Albania passes anti-slander law despite media protest calling it censorship

By Benet Koleka TIRANA (Reuters) - Albania's parliament on Wednesday passed an anti-defamation package criticised by journalists and the Council of Europe as an attempt to muzzle the media while the government countered it was merely regulating 'a jungle of misinformation and hate.' Parliament adjusted two laws to empower the Albanian Media Authority (AMA) and the Authority of Electronic and Postal Communications to hear complaints about news websites, demand retractions, impose fines of up to 1 million leke ($9,013.88), and suspend their activity. The journalists, who protested by wearing black scarves outside parliament, said that the measures were tantamount to censure. More than a dozen media organizations condemned the law and said they would start an information campaign that would also aim to kill those bills or nullify them with litigation

Reuters December 19, 2019 04:11:19 IST
Albania passes anti-slander law despite media protest calling it censorship

Albania passes antislander law despite media protest calling it censorship

By Benet Koleka

TIRANA (Reuters) - Albania's parliament on Wednesday passed an anti-defamation package criticised by journalists and the Council of Europe as an attempt to muzzle the media while the government countered it was merely regulating "a jungle of misinformation and hate."

Parliament adjusted two laws to empower the Albanian Media Authority (AMA) and the Authority of Electronic and Postal Communications to hear complaints about news websites, demand retractions, impose fines of up to 1 million leke ($9,013.88), and suspend their activity.

The journalists, who protested by wearing black scarves outside parliament, said that the measures were tantamount to censure.

More than a dozen media organizations condemned the law and said they would start an information campaign that would also aim to kill those bills or nullify them with litigation.

"We call on journalists to keep working by reporting truthfully and correctly and fear not the existence of these regressive laws," the media organisations said in a statement.

The package was initially meant to cover some 700 to 800 online news sites that have sprung up over the last decade, but may also apply to TV stations, according to last-minute changes.

"This law says 'if we do not like your news story, we can remove it and fine you'", said editor Enton Abilekaj.

Prime Minister Edi Rama told parliament the move intended to stop fake news or slander from causing loss of life or pressing businesses for bribes by shaming the quality of their products.

The law did not violate at all the right to free speech and opinion, but restored dignity to the slandered, Rama added.

"This is a jungle that takes money right and left ... A jungle that produces hate, misinformation and despair," he told the chamber.

Dunja Mijatovic, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, said the laws were in urgent need of improvement.

The powers given to AMA, the possibility of excessive fines and the blocking of media websites without a court order "may deal a strong blow to freedom of expression and media".

"Several provisions are indeed not compatible with international and European human rights standards which protect freedom of expression and freedom of the media," she said.

(Reporting by Benet Koleka; editing by Grant McCool)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

Podcast app Breaker to be acquired by Twitter (Jan. 4)
Business

Podcast app Breaker to be acquired by Twitter (Jan. 4)

(In Jan 4 story, corrects typographical error in CEO name in final paragraph) (Reuters) - Breaker, a popular podcast app, said on Monday it would be acquired by social media company Twitter Inc and shut down its app and website next week. Breaker said on its blog https://blog.breaker.audio/the-breaker-team-is-joining-twitter-f8c1721d66c6 that people can now transfer their subscriptions to other podcast listening apps like those offered by Apple Inc and Spotify. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Latest global lockdowns delay fuel demand recovery
Business

Latest global lockdowns delay fuel demand recovery

By Bozorgmehr Sharafedin LONDON (Reuters) - Severe coronavirus restrictions around the world to‮ ‬contain surging infection rates weighed on fuel sales, weakening the prospect of energy demand recovery in the first half of 2021. Most of Europe is now under the strictest restrictions, according to the Oxford stringency index, which assesses indicators such as travel bans and the closure of schools and workplaces

Gold hastens retreat, slumps 3% as U.S. Treasury yields soar
Business

Gold hastens retreat, slumps 3% as U.S. Treasury yields soar

By Shreyansi Singh (Reuters) - Gold accelerated its slide below the $1,900 mark on Friday, slumping around 3% and dragging down other precious metals as a jump in U.S. Treasury yields hammered bullion's safe-haven appeal.