SCiDEV Organizes Multi Stakeholder Discussion on Journalistic Safety

SCiDEV Organizes Multi Stakeholder Discussion on Journalistic Safety

SCiDEV Organizes Multi Stakeholder Discussion on Journalistic Safety

To mark the Month of Civic Engagement for EU Integration, SCiDEV hosted a multi stakeholder discussion on “Advancing Safety of Journalists and Media Freedom in Albania: Charting the Course for EU Integration”,  held on the 5th of March 2024, at the premises of Hotel Rogner, Tirana.

The measures anticipated by the Government of Albania on the  “Roadmap for the Rule of Law” and the “Roadmap for the Functioning of Democratic Institutions”, both addressing the protection of journalists and the freedom of the media, were in focus of the discussions.

The opening remarks were delivered by HE Reinout Vos, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Albania, highlighting the vital role of media freedom for a healthy democratic development and the EU Integration process in Albania.

Executive Director of SCiDEV, Ms Blerjana Bino, brought to the attention the increase in cases of intimidation and pressures from political actors, and increase of lawsuits against journalists during 2023, while stressing that the measures anticipated by the Government of Albania in the Roadmaps necessitate a steadfast institutional commitment, alignment with international standards and an all-inclusive and transparent consultation process on legal and regulatory changes.

Along the same lines, Ms Kristina Voko, Executive Director of BIRN Albania stressed that the actions outlined in the Roadmaps are overly broad and lack specificity, missing clear, measurable objectives, designated funding, and set deadlines.

Addressing key challenges present in the digital media, Executive Director of Citizen Channel Mr Lorin Kadiu, pointed out that media outlets are often being subject to cybersecurity threats, a growing and worrying issue in the country.

The event continued with a dedicated panel on “The need for enhanced transparency and inclusiveness of civil society and media”, featuring remarks from Ms Ina K. Zhupa, Member of the Parliamentary Committee on Education and Means of Public Information, who underlined that the lack of interest from state entities in safeguarding journalists makes them more susceptible to threats, and highlighting the need for granting better access to journalists to Parliament premises and proceedings. Furthermore, Mr Robert Gajda, Commissioner for Protection against Discrimination brought to the attention the challenges faced by local journalists and those working in remote areas.

During the panel discussion, journalists Ms Esiona Konomi, Mr Isa Myzyraj, Ms Merita Haklaj, and Ms Olta Blaceri presented challenges encountered in their daily work. Ms Konomi expressed concerns over information censorship, political interference impacting editorial autonomy, and the scarcity of reliable information for evidence-based reporting, while Mr Myzyraj highlighted lack of quality in working conditions as significant obstacles. In addition, Ms Haklaj emphasized the need for greater journalistic independence and safe spaces for investigative reporting, while Ms Blaceri urged for increased transparency from the agendas of the political entities and institutions, and concrete legislative measures to protect media freedom and journalists.

This event was held as part of the project “Strengthening Journalistic Safety through Engaged Stakeholder Collaboration” implemented by SCiDEV in collaboration with Citizens Channel and Free Press Unlimited, with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Albania. It was made possible with the support of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the MATRA program.

To read the full event proceedings click here, and to access the full meeting, please visit the recording on this link.