The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its European group the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) and WAZ Media Group today jointly condemned the attack on Albanian journalist Mero Baze yesterday evening in Tirana.
“This is a brutal and vicious attack on a professional journalist that demands a thorough and independent investigation to punish the perpetrators”, declared IFJ President Jim Boumelha. “The evidence strongly suggests he has been assaulted for his work. Those who committed and ordered this crime need to be brought to justice. Failure would sustain the culture of impunity that forces journalists to live and work in fear and destroys democratic fabric of the country”.
According to our information, Mero Baze was attacked by the bodyguards of businessman Bezart Taci as he was leaving a pub in downtown Tirana yesterday evening. The bodyguards beat up Baze for several minutes before leaving. Baze had to be helped to be transferred to the hospital. The police arrested two men after the attack and are still looking for Mr Taci. Today the Albanian authorities also condemned the attacks.
Baze is the editor of the daily Tema and currently contributes to the Factor Plus programme broadcast by Vizion Plus TV channel of which the WAZ Media Group owns a share. It is not the first time that Baze has been targeted.
His paper Tema was expelled from its office last January and he has been
threatened several times in the past.
This attack comes on the eve of the third South East Europe Media Forum (SEEMF) to take place in Tirana from the 4 – 6 of November 2009, where high-ranking media representatives from the South East European region
will debate the challenges facing the media industry and present for the first “WAZ-IFJ Prize for Courage in Journalism”.
Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General, condemned also these attacks “Physical attacks on journalists are both unacceptable and alarming, and indeed we welcome the condemnation of this act by Albanian autorities.
Journalists must be able to report without fear of harassment and intimidation. This case is very worrying because this is not the first time that a journalist in Albania was physically attacked, and also not the first time, that this was done by bodyguards. This act of violence is obviously aimed at intimidating the work of journalists and investigative reporters in Albania”.
The WAZ Media Group stands in full solidarity with the condemnations of the two professional groups and calls on the media for comprehensive reporting on this case.