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IPI welcomes defamation reform, presses for full decriminalisation

(IPI/IFEX) - VIENNA, Mar 5, 2012 - The Vienna-based South East Europe media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), welcomes amendments to the defamation law in Albania. Two sets of reforms, both to the civil and penal code, were voted in on Feb. 17 and Mar. 1, 2012.

The penal code amendments included the full repeal of four offenses that granted special protection to national and foreign government officials. Imprisonment as well as the involvement of the public prosecutor in defamation cases was abolished. However, insult and deliberate publication of defamatory information was maintained as a misdemeanour to be prosecuted privately and subject to a fine.

As for civil code reforms, they provide guidance to judges, and include changes seeking to limit financial fines to proportionate levels that do not jeopardise the financial survival of media outlets.

SEEMO applauds the efforts of the Tirana-based Albanian Media Institute and the Open Society Justice Initiative - which have been advocating for these reforms.

"I welcome the legal reforms approved by the Albanian parliament," said SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic. "With these changes, Albania is constructing the legal framework for creating a truly democratic society. However, I also urge the lawmakers to consider repealing criminal libel altogether."

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