Pursuant to its mission for respect for and protection of citizens’ rights and freedoms, the Albanian Helsinki Committee (AHC) follows, verifies, and monitors their implementation, in accordance with the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), the Constitution, domestic legislation, and other international documents that we adhere to or that represent good guiding practices for democratic countries.
According to these documents, free speech and media freedom are seen as one of the essential fundamental rights in a democratic society.
AHC has always devoted special attention to the implementation of this right in practice, because as is known, its exercise is a powerful tool for consolidating the rule of law and for sensitizing broad public opinion. That is why it is said that the function of free media is to obtain information and convey it to the public.
Although the above matters are clear, AHC finds with regret that there are individuals, including even journalists who, going beyond and violating that freedom, in their language with lack of ethics, use hate speech instead of arguments, comments, or analyses that would serve to clarify issues that are being debated, especially for the broad public that is interested and has so much need for it. AHC brings to the attention of the Audiovisual Media Authority the need to effectively oversee the implementation of the new Code on Television Broadcasts, which prohibits and sanctions discrimination, gender-based violence, and hate speech.
AHC views criticism toward the government and public functionaries as essential in a democratic society. However, violation of human dignity, hate that encourages violence, the violation of the constitutional principles of privacy and presumption of innocence, are incompatible with freedom of speech and of the media.
It is not a tabu that, when needed, even justice bodies of all levels are criticized, but insults, denigration, or pressure on them, even linked with issues under investigation or on which there are criminal proceedings, has nothing in common with freedom of speech or the media. In closing, we deem it necessary to refer to paragraph two of article 10 of the ECHR, which talks about restrictions on the exercise of freedom of speech. The paragraph, among other restrictions, mentions: public safety for protecting order, prevention of crime, protecting the dignity and rights of others, guaranteeing the authority and impartiality of the judicial power.