Albania falls another two places in Reporters Without Borders World Press Index 2020.
In 2019, it ranked at 82 but over the last 12 months, a deterioration in press freedom and an increase in attacks on journalists has led to it ranking at number 84.
Albania has dropped a total of seven places since 2018 marking a serious decrease in media freedom and the rights of journalists in the EU hopefully country.
The country was beaten by Haiti, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Northern Cyprus (part of Turkey) and Timor-Leste. Malta also got a better score during a year when the Prime Minister resigned over links to the assassination of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Albania did manage to surpass Sierra Leone, Hungary, North Macedonia, and Serbia
According to the country report, 2019 was a year that the government stepped up attempts to take control of the media with the excuse of preventing fake news. The so-called “anti-defamation” package was voted in during December, “limiting freedoms of expression, information and press and running against international best practice.”
These laws increase censorship and make journalists more vulnerable to government pressure. The full implementation of these laws would “further deteriorate the situation of press freedom in a country where the government regularly restricts access of journalists to official information and controls the TV market via the attribution of broadcast licences.”
RSF also called out the government for using the November earthquake as an excuse to arrest and detain journalists and to curb press freedom. It noted that two journalists and activists were arrested for spreading “fake news” and online media critical of the government was closed.
This continued with the outbreak of Coronavirus in March 2020 when Prime Minister Edi Rama called on members of the public to protect themselves against the media.
An increase in physical attacks and defamation suits filed against journalists continues to maintain a climate of insecurity and intimidation. This, combined with “denigrating language of politicians” turns journalists into targets of aggression.
RSF also noted that Albania, which aspires to enter the European Union, fail to resolve and sanction various cases of physical attacks and serious threats against journalists.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of insults used by Rama against journalists and the media since 2018, and attacks on journalists in 2019.