The International Federation of Journalists today condemned a decision by the Albanian Parliament to block broadcasting by one of the largest networks in the country and accused legislators of attempts to “stifle free expression” in the run-up to national elections.
Last week, the Parliament extended a ban on broadcasting by the ALSAT network, dragging the prohibition period to six days now. This verdict comes in spite of pleas by ALSAT representatives to rescind a highly suspect motion based on supposed “licensing problems”.
ALSAT TV, a satellite news channel, began terrestrial broadcasting in the Albania in June and has a strong foothold in much of Europe. Journalists working with the channel argue that the Parliamentary decision has been taken due to their position as an independent broadcaster, which has aired opposition material in the run up to elections in October.
“Efforts to stifle free expression and the voice of dissent, particularly in the midst of a national election process, destroys the essence of democracy”, said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “The Albanian Parliament must respect journalists’ rights to work without restraint, in order to maintain an open dialogue”.
The IFJ is calling on the Albanian Parliament to reinstate ALSAT’s broadcasting capabilities immediately, so as to avoid any knock-on effects prior to elections in less than two month’s time. “Election time is when people need to have diversity and pluralism of opinions at their disposal. This action by the Parliament strikes at the heart of this democratic right,” said White.
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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries