Deficiencies with the independence and integrity of the judiciary, the lack of independent media and ongoing corruption in government, law enforcement and local institutions were the main problems in Albania during the past year, according to the latest report of the US Department of State, published today.
Although the constitution provides for an independent judiciary, “political pressure, intimidation, corruption and limited resources prevented the judiciary from functioning fully, independently and efficiently,” the report said.
The report notes that there has also been progress, mentioning the Special Anti-Corruption Structure, which during the past year has investigated, prosecuted and punished senior officials and members of organized crime, involved in corruption.
Corruption, the report states, was present in all branches and levels of government, including public procurement and public-private partnerships.
One of the main problems mentioned in the report is the state of the media and the pressure on it. According to the report, observers claim that “the government, political parties, businesses and criminal groups tried to influence the media in inappropriate and non-transparent ways.”
“There is a free media and a proliferation of media outlets, especially online, that represent a wide spectrum of views without accountability, often without attributing the information to sources.”
“However, independent media are few and far between, as most media are owned by powerful businessmen with vested interests who use them to advance their own interests, including profiteering and promoting interests they have with political parties.”
, the report says.
The State Department also says there have been credible reports that senior members of the media used their companies to blackmail businesses, threatening them with negative coverage.
“Political pressure, corruption, and lack of funding to independent media is observed, as journalists reportedly practiced self-censorship,” the report added.
According to the State Department, the report of the International Election Observation Mission after the April 2021 parliamentary elections estimated that journalists remain vulnerable to pressure and corruption.
Referring to the elections, the report states that according to the International Mission of Observers, although the elections were generally well organized, the ruling party secured significant advantages from the fact of being in power, from control over local administrations and from the misuse of administrative resources.
The report also mentions the benefit that the socialist majority secured from positive media coverage of state institutions, as well as credible allegations of numerous vote-buying by political parties and illegal extraction and use of sensitive personal data.