Concerns Over Proposed Restoration of Prison Sentencing for Defamation

Civil Rights Defenders expresses deep concern over the legislative changes in Albania, proposed by the Government on the 11th of November. If adopted, they will restore prison sentences for defamation and could lead to self-censorship in the media.

On Wednesday, the Albanian Parliamentary Commission on Laws proposed amendments that would restore prison sentences for cases of defamation claims. At the moment, defamation is a criminal offense but the law only foresees a financial penalty for defamation suits.

“The law, if amended, will lead to more self-censorship which is one of the most serious problems that journalists in Albania face. Albania must promote and protect freedom of expression, as stated in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights,” said Vasilika Laci, Programme Officer for Albania at Civil Rights Defenders.

Civil Rights Defenders demands the Albanian Government to withdraw the draft law and show commitment to freedom of expression. Albania must uphold international standards regarding freedom of speech. Punishing defamation by prison sentence is in contrast to standards of the Council of Europe and the practices of the European Court of Human Rights.