12 Feb 2021 Lvl. 1
State replied
Alert created on: 15 Dec 2020 n° 202/2020 Albania

Police Uses Force and Detains Two Journalists Covering Street Clashes in Albania

Source of threatState
CategoryAttacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists
Partner AEJ IPI
Partner AEJ IPI
On 11 and 12 December 2020, police assaulted and detained Ora News RTV journalist Xhoi Malësia and Kohan Jone newspaper’s editor in chief Qamil Xhani, while they were covering protests in Tirana against police violence. Street clashes erupted in the capital following the death of a 25-year-old man shot by police while enforcing a COVID-linked curfew on 8 December.

On 11 December 2020, Xhoi Malësia was arrested by the police after filming and reporting on the protests, according to news reports. Despite Malësia identifying himself as a journalist, he was taken to the police station, where he was assaulted and insulted by police officers. The police officers did not allow him to make a phone call and forced him to sign a statement he did not write in order to be released. He was freed three hours later. He reported violence and abuse of his human rights by the police officers and filed a criminal complaint against the police with the support of the Helsinki Committee.

On 12 December the editor-in-chief of the Albanian newspaper Kohan Jone, Qamil Xhani, was arrested while covering the protests in Tirana. He was detained by the police as he was photographing an instance of violence against a minor, according to news reports. Xhani was handcuffed and detained by police along with around 50 protestors in a small room. The journalist said he was hit on the head and the back, and his mobile was seized and all footage deleted. He was also forced to sign a statement saying he had participated in an illegal gathering. He was released after Kohan Jone’s publisher contacted the General Director of Police directly and the issue was reported live on the evening TV programme.

The Board of the Association of European Journalists, SafeJournalists Network and the Albania’s Professional Journalists Association (APJ) condemned the events and expressed their support to the two journalists. They underline that this is not the first episode in Albania of police abuse over media, and they strongly back the demand for a prompt investigation into police actions and on the reported abuses of the journalists’ human rights through violence, seizure of equipment, blackmailing and other pressures. Although the police have not yet commented on the detention of journalists , the preliminary report by the Ombudsman states that in the case of Malësia, the police representatives verbally asserted that he was not kept in a detention room at the police station and was not treated as a detainee.
State replies
Follow-ups
16 Dec 2020
CoE Human Rights Commissioner: "Albanian authorities must prevent further police violence and uphold the right to freedom of peaceful assembly".
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