Journalists from various media outlets were prevented from reporting and verbally attacked and threatened early this morning at the Democratic Party (DP) meeting. This action, reportedly perpetrated by supporters of the former Chairman of the Democratic Party, impedes not only the course of free journalism but also the safety and welfare of those serving on the frontlines of news reporting.
The journalists Osman Stafa from News 24, Ardit Hoxha from EuroNews, Andon Kello from MCN, Ermal Rizai from Syri Tv and Isa Myzyraj from Ora News were not allowed to perform their duty. Individuals, allegedly supporters of Mr Lulzim Basha, former Chairman of the Democratic Party, tried to take their cameras and mics away, pushed the reporters, shouted at them, insulted them and threatened them with physical violence and other slurs if they continued to film and report.
Journalist Isa Myzyraj reported on Facebook that supporters of Lulzim Basha cursed and insulted members of the opposition of the DP. The threats have continued against the journalists present in the premises of the meeting. Myzyraj said that a group of people have asked them to turn off the cameras and not to record. Journalist Osman Stafa also stated that some supportive individuals of Basha exercised verbal violence, threats, insults and attempts at physical violence against journalists near the headquarters of the Democratic Party.
“Verbal violence, threats, insults and attempts at physical violence against journalists in the early hours of the morning near the headquarters of the Democratic Party are an alarm bell not only for the freedom of the media, but also for the physical safety of the journalists” stated Myzyraj in his Facebook post.
Blerjana Bino, SafeJournalists researcher in Albania, said: “The recent assault on journalists at the Democratic Party meeting is a distressing indication of the risks reporters in Albania face, underlining the continued precariousness of press freedom. It underscores the crucial need for political parties, their members, backers, and the wider public to respect the role and space of journalists. This is also a start reminder of how anti-media sentiment by politicians and employing inflammatory language against journalists can incite physical threats, eroding the essential foundation of independent and professional journalism”.
The SafeJournalists network, which represents more than 8,200 media professionals in the Western Balkans, urges the Democratic Party to publicly distance itself from this incident and condemn the actions of its supporters. An official statement is expected, acknowledging the severity of the situation and outlining actions to ensure that such an incident does not recur. The Network further urges that comprehensive measures be implemented to prevent such incidents in the future, ensuring the safety and freedom of journalists.
The SafeJournalists network will inform relevant national and international stakeholders about this case.
Each attack on journalists is an attack on public interest, democracy and the rights of all citizens.
Pristina – Skopje – Sarajevo – Zagreb – Belgrade – Podgorica, 07.06.2023
Association of Journalists of Kosovo
Association of Journalists of Macedonia
BH Journalists Association
Croatian Journalists’ Association
Independent Journalists Association of Serbia
Trade Union of Media of Montenegro