Albanian lawmakers face heat from press freedom watchdogs

A group of leading press freedom advocates issued an open letter to Albania’s Parliament this month urging lawmakers to vote down a group of government-proposed anti-defamation laws that, critics say, would grant the country’s top media regulator too much power.

The letter was issued less than two days before Albanian lawmakers are set to hold final hearings on the draft laws, which are scheduled for a Dec. 19 vote.

The letter also warns Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama that the so-called “defamation package” signals “a turn to the worst for Albania’s press freedom climate,” and that its ratification would violate the European Convention on Human Rights and other democratic guidelines endorsed by the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe).

Albania is set to assume the presidency of the OSCE in January.