Albanian journalists barred from attending media commission hearing

Head of the Media Commission giving interview to journalists outside the hearing © AJP

The International and European Federations of Journalists, (IFJ) and (EFJ), together with their affiliate, the Association of Professional Journalists (APJ) in Albania expressed their firm disappointment and concerns over a  failed Commission hearing in the Albanian Parliament. The session was scheduled on 2 November during a hearing organised by the Commission of the Media with the former director of the TV Channel A1News, Alida Tota, who was sacked due to an investigative report made last August. The investigation was about the tragic death of a 17-year-old man Ardi Gjoklaj, who was illegally working at a landfill under supervision of the Municipality of Tirana. The APJ had made a request to the Parliamentary Committee on Education and Means of Public Information on 20 September to examine the case. The Media Commission decided to hold a hearing on 26 October and invited former news director of A1News Alida Tota and a representative of APJ, journalist Aulon Kalaja. When journalists from different media tried to attend the hearing, members of the National guard banned journalists and cameramen from entering the Media Committee, despite repeated invitations of the Chairman of the Commission, Mr. Genc Pollo. Due to the fact that the members of the governing coalition left the Commission, the hearing of journalist Alida Tota failed because a quorum couldn't be reached for the hearing. Mr. Genc Pollo (opposition’s MP) accused Prime Minister Rama of blocking the session, noting that he was seeking to close the case of the murder of minors [by obstructing journalists]. Deputy Chairman of the Commission Alfred Peza (majority’s MP) considered the hearing as a cause to amplify the opposition’s anti-government stance. The APJ considers the failure of hearing as a clear illustration of censorship against journalists in Albania. It is important to note that even when invited officially to have their say in the institution that represents the will of the people, such as the Parliament of Albania, journalists are denied that right.

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