Vienna, 26 October 2016 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) criticized the actions of the Albanian Parliament and Media Commission after a failed hearing which was originally planned for today, 26 October.
The Association of Professional Journalists (APJ) made a request to the Parliamentary Committee on Education and Means of Public Information, in order to further examine the case of Alida Tota, former director of A1News TV channel.
The APJ asked for the revision of her case after she was dismissed as the head of A1News, due to an investigative story that was published on the channel in late August. The subject of the piece was the death of Ardi Gjoklaj, a 17 year-old-boy who was working illegally at a landfill, which was under the supervision of the Tirana municipality.
The meeting was set for 10:00 this morning, but when representatives of media outlets began arriving to the hearing, members of the National Guard prohibited them from entering. This was a surprise, given that Genc Pollo, chairman of the Media Commission repeatedly invited journalists to attend. Following this, members of the governing coalition left the hearing of Alida Tota, leading to a lack of quorum and cancellation of the meeting.
“All forms of silencing journalists are a despicable, non-democratic way of functioning” SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic stated. “We call on the Parliamentary Committe on Education and Means of Public Information, the Media Commission and all rulling coalition members to immediately set up a new hearing date for the case of Alida Tota. Those that should be defending media freedom but in fact violate it, should not stop media workers from seeking legislative and state help” Vujovic added.
SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.