AEJ sends support message to Albanian newspaper editor arrested for filming police violence
The Board of the Association of European Journalists has sent a message of solidarity and support to Qamil Xhani, the editor of the Albanian newspaper Koha Jone, following his arbitrary arrest last Friday. The message strongly backs the demand for a thorough and prompt investigation into the actions of police who used excessive violence during a public protest and also deleted pictures of those events which Mr Xhani had recorded while in the grounds of his own office. The AEJ’s message was written and sent by members of the AEJ’s Polish section. It has been whole-heartedly endorsed by the members of the association’s internatioanl Board.
AEJ Letter of support to Qamil Xhani, editor in chief of the Koha Jone newspaper
As sent on 13.12 2020
Dear Qamil Xhani, we are writing to you to express our solidarity after your detention by the Albanian police on Friday December 11 2020.
It is absolutely unacceptable that the police should have detained you in your own newspaper office after you had taken photographs of protesters being arrested outside your building. It is also unacceptable that the police destroyed the pictures of their action which you had taken.
We fully support your demand for a thorough investigation into the behaviour of the police at the public demonstration and their action against you, including any arbitrary use of violent force.
Journalists have the right and duty to provide accurately and impartial reports. This is especially true of demonstrations about which your readers have a right to be informed. It is also necessary for the public image of the police, as fair media reporting is the only way they can get an impartial report of their actions during demonstrations.
This right to provide information on demonstrations has been confirmed in successive documents acknowledging the commitment of European institutions to which Albania belongs, including the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Council of Europe; and the European Union, which Albania is aspiring to join.
Guidelines on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly published by the authoritative Venice Commission of the Council of Europe and the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Insitutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) on 8 July 2019 (CDL-AD (2019) 017 Study no 581/2010) clearly state: ”Media reports, including audio and video recording, provide an important element of public information sharing. For this reason , the media must be given full access by the authorities to all forms of public assembly and to the policing operations mounted to facilitate them” (Page 76). The guidelines go on to say that media representatives must clearly identify themselves as members of the press. In your case you have made clear that you took the photographs on the premises of your office and clearly identified yourself.
We stand with you in the predicament in which you have found yourself and support your insistence on obtaining redress from the police for their actions,
Signed by: Andrzej Krajewski , AEJ Poland and board member of the Society of Journalists, Poland
Krzysztof Bobinski, AEJ Poland and board member of the Society of Journalists, Poland
And the Board members of the international Association of European Journalists