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Freedom House: Albania stuck at being “partly free”

Democracy watchdog Freedom House published on Monday its annual report, where it was declared that global democracy is declining, while Albania is considered, this year too, as only partly free.

Albania’s results were in line with Transparency International’s results on the perceived corruption in each country, published last week, where Albania had dropped eight places.

The government, now tied with more than one cases of alleged corruption and ties to organized crime, has increasingly failed to protect freedom of expression by attacking independent media organizations, placing Albania’s “partly free” below countries which have lately been heavily criticized for their own democratic downfalls such as Hungary, Romania and Tunisia.

In the “Freedom in the World” 2018 report, it was also noted that only 44 percent of the world’s countries can be considered real democracies.

In its annual reports, Freedom House lists among the problems that prevent Albania from being classified as a completely free country political polarization, crime and corruption, and business ties between politics and the media.

In Europe, countries such as Serbia and Hungary saw a reclassification from Free to Partly Free due to deterioration in the conduction of elections, decreased freedom of the press, the harassment of journalists, and the consolidation of power by Prime Ministers and Presidents.

In this context, the entire Balkan region was criticized for its anti democratic leaders and their consolidation of power beyond what the law allows, as well as the undermining of institutions which protect the freedom of expression.

Freedom of expression is one particular pillar of democracy that has come under sustained attack across free, partly free, and not free countries.

Globally, freedom of expression has decreased over the last 13 years with sharper drops registered since 2012. A number of countries have been observed to be stepping up online censorship either through monitoring citizens or imposing harsh laws on media portals and independent news sources.

Edi Rama’s Socialist government has been criticized over online media censorship repeatedly over the last months by a number of international watchdog organizations, for trying to pass a bill that will restrict and censor online media in what has been called “autocratic.”