Police have promised to investigate the conduct of officers who allegedly prevented a journalist in Shkodra from filming a police action, even though he had a press card.
Albanian special police and a helicopter secure the area around the Elbasan Arena prior to the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying soccer match between Albania and Serbia in Elbasan, Albania, 08 October 2015. Photo: EPA/ARMANDO BABANI
Albanian police have promised to check officers’ conduct after a journalist in the northern town of Shkodra on Thursday claimed he was prevented was filming a police operation.
“The General Director of the State Police has immediately ordered the Directorate of Professional Standards in the State Police to begin verifying the [police’s] actions,” the police said on Thursday.
The journalist, Simon Shkreli, based in Shkodra, claims he was not allowed to film in a public place while the special forces were conducting an operation.
He wrote on Facebook that, “while I was going home with my two children I saw the operation and started filming, but RENEA [Department of Neutralization of Armed Elements] intervened and said not to film”.
“I took out my journalist’s badge and told them I was a journalist. Shkodra Police Director Hamdi Fjora and Chief of Police Paulin Çupi were also present. Director Fjora called me near his car and … told me: ‘They do not know you.’ I told them they do not need to know me because I have a badge,” he wrote.
He added that the officers then said: “You are with your family” and another officer removed his press card.
“My expectation that the case will go to the end is very small, given other cases, where many similar events with journalists are covered up … and everything passes in silence. But I am personally determined to not give up,” Shkreli told BIRN on Friday.
The Professional Journalists of Albania union reacted saying that it “expresses its deep indignation at the verbal violence exercised against journalist Simon Shkreli by members of the RENEA forces”.
“This behaviour becomes even more scandalous as it comes from the elite forces of the state police such as RENEA and not from simple police officers.
“The Association of Professional Journalists of Albania expresses solidarity with colleague Simon Shkreli and calls on the SHCBA [Service for Internal Affairs and Complaints at the Ministry of Interior] to investigate this case and bring the perpetrator or perpetrators to justice,” it wrote.
A police officer was dismissed in November after he was filmed pushing a journalist, Anila Hoxha and a cameraman, while they were reporting from a crime scene.
Another incident between journalists and the police happened in July 2021 when police were seen manhandling TV journalists Ergys Gjencaj and Klodiana Lala after they witnessed a failed attempt to detain a suspect.
Police faced further criticism last December when two journalists, Xhoi Malesia and Qamil Chani, were stopped with force in two separate incidents while reporting during clashes between police and protesters.
Repeated calls by Albanian rights groups to Prime Minister Edi Rama and State Police director Veliu to condemn violence used against media workers received no response.
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