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Faktoje.al victory, triumph of the media and the courts
A court decision, following a complaint by the media platform Faktoje.al, marks an important step in establishing a new relationship between the media, the government, the judicial system, and the public in Albania. Installs the need for transparency and its importance, as well as the inevitability of the public right to be informed about government activities.
Following a simple request sent to all ministries, the Presidency, Parliament, and the Prime Minister, Faktoje.al, a platform that monitors the veracity of the news and government transparency, only two ministries, Culture and Justice, have agreed to cooperate. Faktoje journalists, based on Albanian legislation, have asked the institutions given for overseas trips of ministers and other senior officials to build an overview of spending.
They have encountered silence, in addition to the two aforementioned ministries, and disregard when approached by an intermediary link overseeing state institutions in enforcing the right to information. During this siege, Faktoje sued in court, which granted him the right and asked the institutions to release the required data.
This decision, which speaks well of the court, encourages the media not to stop demanding materials that hold accountable the officials who are paid with Albanian taxes but also puts in the corner of shame the Commissioner of the Right to Information, who apparently only occupies the office, salary, and car, but does not do the job.
This challenge that the court poses to both the Commissioner and senior state officials is important especially in light of recent developments, or rather in their obscurity, where a lack of government transparency is key.
Two events of the last week prove this. A dinner in Dubai, in an expensive restaurant between a potpourri of high-ranking officials of all powers and a businessman, for which many options were given by many wings, and a package of anti-Covid vaccines which was also anonymous, making it made unclear the purpose, the donor, and the reasons for the secrecy. There is a principle in governance, that only for reasons of national security can information be saved, while in other cases transparency for the public always comes first.
In Tirana, the opposite often happens. The national cause is ready to be sacrificed in every bargain before the fortifications attributed to government cases, those that would embarrass or diminish the government's reputation in public.
The Court of the Republic, in a decision that may serve as a precedent in the future, has declared disagreement with this approach. It is good news that needs to be talked about more and more strongly. It is a matter of public interest that affects us all.