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Political Process Monitoring
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The Journalegal Advisor

The JournaLegal Advisor: Legal assistance for journalists in Albania 


The Problem
Media literacy is a pressing issue in Albania. Often, media publications aren't accurate, especially related to legal disciplines such as court reporting and public contracts.  Meanwhile, journalists lack necessary knowledge of their right to information and freedom of speech. Journalists face two main obstacles: they don't have full access to official information, and even when they do access it, do not correctly interpret it. In this way, journalists become vulnerable to legal proceedings targeting them, while their publications contain inaccuracies that misinform the public. 

The Approach
The project, initiated in August 2023, focuses on enhancing media literacy and journalistic integrity in Albania, primarily in Tirana, the capital. It targets experienced journalists, young professionals, and journalism students. Key activities include: assisting journalists in submitting information requests on sensitive topics; producing modules for a week-long "law school" for journalists on topics such as procedural law, freedom of information, and journalistic ethics; and offering legal advice through direct meetings and a secure hotline. Since 2013, Res Publica has advocated for the establishment of a self-regulatory media body in Albania. The organization also provides legal representation for journalists throughout the region facing charges for defamation, protection of sources, and other violations of journalistic rights. Additionally, Res Publica engages in monitoring and advocating for legal amendments to improve access to information laws. For the past eight years, they have prepared an annual monitoring report on the operations of the Commissioner for Information Rights and Personal Data Protection and other public authorities, for compliance with right to information laws.  

The Impact

  • Assisted journalists in filing over 60 government requests for information. 

  • Feedback from journalists highlighted improved ease of access and quality of obtained information. 

  • Around 50 cases related to information requests from prominent Albanian journalists are being tried in Administrative Court. 

  • Replies to information requests are archived in the "Publeaks" platform database for journalists and researchers. 

  • Reduced the threat of SLAPP lawsuits on journalists by increasing their legal knowledge and confidence. 

  • Improved the quality of journalism, enabling coverage of complex legal topics such as public procurement, environmental impact investments, and organized crime. 

  • Advocated for an amendment to the Law on the Right to Information, which has strengthened the execution decisions by the Commissioner for the Right to Information and the provision of sanctions for authorities that hinder the implementation of the law. 

The Future
Next steps for the project include finalizing the "law school" activities for journalism students, and delivering training on media literacy, legal frameworks for freedom of speech, and journalistic legal considerations. Res Publica will also continue supporting all journalists through the JournaLegal Advisor hotline, Further, "Publeaks" platform, and ongoing legal cases.