'Slander' takes Albanian politics by storm

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times October 19, 2018 09:40

'Slander' takes Albanian politics by storm

Story Highlights

  • This week, Rama went as far as to say the government would come up with an actual “anti-slander package,” the first step of which is to legalize all online news portals. Rama called Albania’s online news portals which are not registered in the National Businesses Centre “ghosts with no name and address.”

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TIRANA, Oct. 18 - Over the last two three weeks, as the country’s opposition Democratic Party has been making allegations of the ties between the governing Socialists and organized crime public through video publication and live witness’ confessions, calling everything “slander” has become the Socialist government’s most used defense tactic.

According to Prime Minister Edi Rama, political slanderes in Albania will pay fines, although in other EU countries the fine is imprisonment.

“Slander is punished with prison in 25 EU countries! Our half-roosters with fattened pockets and brains, who’ve achieved political and media careers by slandering and accusing without evidence, don’t deserve even one plate of prison soup. They will simply pay the pollution fine for every filth coming out of their mouth,” Rama wrote on his Facebook.

This week, Rama went as far as to say the government would come up with an actual “anti-slander package,” the first step of which is to legalize all online news portals. Rama called Albania’s online news portals which are not registered in the National Businesses Centre “ghosts with no name and address.”

“The legalization can be done within a few minutes through the online NBC registration. Considering they are ghosts with no name and address, i hope they see this message before Monday,” Rama wrote on his official twitter account.

On Monday, the Authority of Electronic-Post Communication (AKEP) published a list of all unregistered portals in the country and gave a 72 hour deadline to publish their Tax ID number online or otherwise their activity will be terminated.

AKEP asked online media to register at the NBC on the grounds they represent business models with normal income and have a duty to pay taxes of the journalists they hire.

The first to go against Rama’s “anti-slander package” was head of DP Lulzim Basha, who said Rama is simply looking to sabotage and then “kill the truth.”

“AKEP is the Thought Police in Rama’s hands to threaten the freedom of speech and kill the truth. Rama wants online media portals to register as businesses so that he can send them tax inspectors to sabotage and violate them. He will miserably fail, along with blind AKEP tools,” Basha wrote.

Another reaction came from DP MP and Head of the Media Parliamentary Committee Albana Vokshi, who accused AKEP of illegal violations in its call for portals to register before they are shut down.

According to Vokshi, this decision is in violation of the dispositions lawfully recognized on electronic communication and is a flagrant violation of the freedom of expression and freedom of the media, guaranteed by Article 22 of the Albanian Constitution and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In this context, Vokshi requested the AKEP chairman to immediately suspend what she called an “unconstitutional and illegal order.”

A negative reaction also came from the OSCE representative for Media Freedom Harlem Desir, who said this measure could seriously limit people’s access to various sources of information.

“States should not impose the mandatory registration for online media as a precondition for their work, as this might have negative effects on media freedom,” Desir said.

Rama first spoke of an anti-slander package on Oct. 2, when Xhisiela Maloku’s case became the epicentre of the political debate.

Through the DP, former police-officer Emiljano Nuhu made a video-testimony saying SP lawmakers - Taulant Balla and Rrahman Rraja specifically - had held him at gunpoint in order not to proceed with investigations on persecution charges pressed by Xhisiela Maloku on Rrahman’s son and her former boyfriend, Rexhep.

Another hot topic that has overtaken the Albanian political scene the last two weeks has been the ‘Babale case,’ in which the brother of the country’s interior minister is being accused of marijuana trafficking in Italy.

Although the prosecution is still investigating the case and has even arrested one person accused of impersonating Agron Xhafaj, the minister’s brother, the DP continues to publish evidence to back up its side of the story and prove further ties of the government with organized crime and criminals.

So far, a number of people have been involved in the returning ‘Babale case,’ among which high-rank officials like SP MP Taulant Balla, who has denounced Basha for slander, and the Head of the General Police Directorate Ardi Veliu.

The truth according to the law and justice system still seem like a distant goal.

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times October 19, 2018 09:40