BIRN Albania Screens Documentary on Sexual Harassment

Premiere of Body of Shame, which challenges the societal norms that blame victims of sexual abuse, kicks off week of Women’s Rights Activism.

On March 4 in Tirana, Balkan Investigative Reporting Network Albania held a screening of its documentary Body of Shame, to launch Women’s Rights Activism Week.

The screening was attended by the British, EU and German ambassadors to Albania as well as women’s rights activists and civil society representatives.

The documentary was produced in collaboration with Barraka Productions and director Elton Baxhaku. In the first two weeks of March it will be screened across Albania, including in Saranda, Shkodra, Peshkopia, Kukes, Vlore, Berat, Durres and Elbasan.

Body of Shame explores sexual abuse and harassment of women in Albania in light of the #metoo movement, exposing the fact that few woman remain unscathed by this phenomenon.

The documentary showcases the stories of brave women who challenge stigmas and share their stories with a determination to shatter society’s wall of silence.

Body of Shame challenges the societal norms that blame victims and turn a blind eye on them, seeking collective change.

Through the powerful narratives of sexual violence survivors, the documentary seeks to promote culture change, sharing the ugly truth of sexual harassment and violence against women.

‘New Wave’, BIRN Albania’s Documentary on Migration, Screened in Tirana

New film explores push factors behind latest migration wave from Albania toward the European Union and Britain.

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania on February 13 staged the premiere of its documentary New Wave in Tirana. More than 100 people – some of the standing – gathered at the Agimi Art Center for the screening, including members of the diplomatic corps, activists, journalists and filmmakers.

The documentary, produced in cooperation with Barraka Production and directed by award-winning director, Elton Baxhaku, explores the push factors behind Albania’s latest migration wave toward the European Union and the United Kingdom.

It includes interviews with people from different walks of life and different regions of the country, as well as experts and academics that study migration and its impact on individuals, families and society, in an attempt to explain what is pushing so many to migrate and what this means for the Albania and its future.

Elton Baxhaku is an Albanian filmmaker best known for his 2014
documentary Skandal, the 2016 documentary Selita, which was co-directed by Eriona Çami, and Free Flow in 2018.

The documentary was produced as part of the project “Using Big Data and Multimedia to Boost Quality and Independent Journalism in Albania”, which is supported by the European Union and the Swedish government and implemented by BIRN Albania.

The project worked to create an enabling environment for Albanian journalists to produce independent content through training, mentoring, technical and financial support, in close cooperation with civil society, so improving freedom of expression and strengthening media pluralism in Albania.

In the next few months BIRN Albania will take the documentary on the road and hold screenings in several Albanian cities and towns, which are considered as ground zero for the latest migration wave.

BIRN Albania Wins Landmark FOI Case

Verdict forces Qualification Commission to reveal name of private sponsor who paid for vetting institutions staff’s weekend retreat in luxury resort.

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania has won a landmark lawsuit against the Independent Qualification Commission, IQC, over the right to public information.

The IQC is one of three institutions charged with vetting judges and prosecutors in Albania.

The verdict, which was adjudicated by the Appeals Administrative Court in Tirana, forces the IQC to reveal the name of a private sponsor who paid the bill for a weekend retreat in a luxurious resort for the vetting institutions staff.

BIRN sought the records from the IQC in 2022. After the IQC refused, a complaint was filed with the Commissioner on the Right to Information. The Commissioner ruled in BIRN’s favour but the IQC filed a lawsuit against his decision.

In the First Instance Administrative Court in Tirana, BIRN Albania journalist Edmond Hoxhaj joined the case as a third party. When the judge ruled in favour of the IQC, Hoxhaj appealed, and on January 23, the Administrative Court reversed the verdict, upholding the earlier decision of the Commissioner for the Right to Information.

BIRN Albania Publishes Manual on Environmental Advocacy in Albania

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania has published a manual on environmental advocacy for activists in the country.

The manual was written by Mihallaq Qirjo, a professor of ecology at Tirana University and environmentalist. It aims to empower civil society actors to raise their voices and to take on important environmental causes on behalf of communities across the country.

The manual’s contents are intended to raise awareness of the need for active participation, better governance and improvements in the management of natural resources in Albania. It is also intended to boost collaboration between civil society organisations, public authorities, local communities and the media over the long term in order to create partnerships that secure sustainable development.

The publication of the manual was financially supported by Sweden and the Democracy Commission Small Grants Program of the US Embassy in Tirana as part of the project ‘Building Resilience through Environmental Journalism’.

To download a copy of the report in Albanian, click here.

BIRN Albania Publishes Handbook for Journalists Reporting on the Environment

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania has published a new handbook for journalists in the country on how to report on environment and climate change.

The manual was written by Lawrence Marzouk, a journalist, editor and trainer with almost 20 years’ experience in investigative reporting, and Mihallaq Qirjo, a professor of ecology at Tirana University and environmental activist. The publication was edited by Alken Myftiu, an expert on climate change, renewable and clean energy policies and environmental Issues.

The manual aims to provide journalists with a better understanding of climate change and looming environmental crises, as well as explaining the legal and financial situation in Albania as regards environmental issues and the country’s path towards harmonisation with EU standards.

It also provides Albanian journalists with the latest practical, cutting-edge tools to investigate and report on the subject, while suggesting useful open sources of information.

The publication of the manual was supported financially by Sweden and the Democracy Commission Small Grants Program of the US Embassy in Tirana as part of the project ‘Building Resilience Through Environmental Journalism’.

To download a copy of the report in English, click here.

To download a copy of the report in Albanian, click here.

BIRN Albania Opens Call for Investigations on Human Rights Abuses

BIRN Albania launched a call for investigative stories on November 10, offering grants for three journalists to produce articles on human rights abuses in Albania.

BIRN is offering grants for three journalists to cover stories on human rights abuses, as well as mentoring by experienced editors.

The call is part of the project ‘Promoting Accountability through Investigative Journalism’, supported by the National Endowment for Democracy, NED.

This project aims to build bridges between journalists, experts and civil society activists so they can strengthen the fight against corruption and impunity through investigative journalism.

Three journalists will be awarded grants to cover their expenses while conducting investigations and writing stories on topics related to human rights abuses in Albania.

The journalists will have around three months to dig deeper and research their ideas, and will also have the opportunity to work with experienced editors as mentors to guide them through the process of writing in accordance with BIRN standards.

The call only applies to journalists from Albania and closes on November 25, 2023.

Click here for more information (in Albanian) about the application procedure.

Click here to download the application form (in Albanian).

BIRN Albania Holds Roundtable on Human Rights

On November 7, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania held a roundtable on the state of human rights in the country.

The roundtable was moderated by human rights activist Xheni Karaj, who presented a review of the uphill battle human rights defenders and journalists often face in Albania to advance causes and report abuses.

Two dozen journalists, civil society activists and experts in the field of human rights attended the roundtable in Tirana as part of the project: “Promoting Accountability through Investigative Journalism,” financed by the National Endowment for Democracy, NED.

This project aims to build bridges between journalists, experts and civil society activists, so that they can strengthen the fight against corruption and impunity through investigative journalism.

The aim of the roundtable was to identify important issues or problems that civil society believes should be investigated in the respect of human rights and freedoms in Albania.

The findings of the roundtable will guide the main areas of BIRN Albania’s upcoming open call for three journalists to produce investigative articles focused on human rights.

During the roundtable, the participants discussed the following themes and topics: sexual violence and off-line bullying of children in school; digital rights violations; smear campaigns against journalists and media disinformation against human rights activists; labour rights; marginalized communities’ and migrants’ access to healthcare; reintegration of victims from conflict areas; lack of institutional capacity; migrants’ access to social services; human rights in prison and other closed institutions; access to vaccines for children’ access to information and digital services; sexual harassment, etc.

BIRN Albania Holds Trainings on Environmental Advocacy

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania on September 27 and 29 held two trainings for civil society organisations and activists in Shkodra and Kukes.

The training sessions on environmental advocacy were held as part of the project: “Building Resilience through Environmental Journalism”, which is co-financed by the Democracy Commission Small Grants Program of the US embassy in Tirana and is implemented by BIRN in cooperation with local journalists.

The trainings in Shkodra and Kukes attracted 41 civil society representatives and activists from the northern regions of Albania.

The project aims to strengthen cooperation between NGOs, activists and local journalists in Albania to research, monitor and publish articles on environmental violations, with the aim of increasing awareness, public pressure and advocacy for the most efficient use of natural resources and sustainable development in the country

The training in the town of Kukes, bordering Kosovo, was led by environmental experts Bukurosh Onuzi, Besart Halilaj and Anxhela Vincani. It attracted 22 participants. The training in Shkodra was held by journalist Emi Kalaja and Alminda Mema, executive director of the Ahrus Centre in Shkodra and had 19 participants.

During the training sessions, the experts discussed environmental issues and cooperation between journalists and civil society to tackle them, the work of local environmental organisations to raise awareness and advocate for their causes, as well as intra-institutional cooperation on the local level on environmental issues.




EU Awards for Best Investigative Journalism in Albania Announced

On September 21 in Europe House in Tirana, the winners of the EU Awards for Investigative Awards for Investigative Journalism in Albania were announced.

Aurora Velaj, Osman Stafa, Anila Hoxha and Artan Rama were selected from many colleagues as this year’s winners for their stories published in 2022 exposing wrongdoings related to discrimination, healthcare and spendings of public funds.

The jury consisted of Jeton Mehmeti, media professional, consultant, researcher, Chairman of the Independent Media Commission and lecturer at the University of Prishtina; Ornela Liperi, editor-in-chief of Monitor magazine, and Valbona Sulçe, journalist and media researcher with a background in diversity, gender equality, media literacy, and ethical journalism, championing the cause of Albanian women in audiovisual.

The first prize went to Velaj for her documentary Po na shujn!. This story reveals the silent ethnic cleansing of Albanians in Serbia’s Presheva Valley through postal address removal, shedding light on discrimination against the country’s ethnic Albanian population.

The second prize went to Stafa for his story Mungesa e ilaçeve në QSUNT rrezikon jetën e fëmijëve, që vuajnë nga tumori, which spotlighted the challenges of supplying essential drugs to children with cancer in Albania, driving change in healthcare.

The third prize was given to the stories produced by Anila Hoxha’s “Sekret shtetëror”, which explores the human and financial costs of helicopter contracts in Albania, and Artan Rama’s “Kush e kontrollon Butrintin/Who manages Butrint?”, which exposes management and transparency issues at Albania’s significant heritage site, urging preservation and accountability.

The awards were given by the Deputy Head of the European Delegation in Albania, Jean-Baptiste Le Bras, who emphasized the pivotal role of investigative journalism in democracy, governance, and accountability.

Blerjana Bino from Thomson Media introduced the project and the importance of the EU award for supporting investigative journalism in the Western Balkans and Türkiye. Ornela Liperi, representing the jury, provided a detailed explanation of the award selection process and announced the recipients of each awarded position.

More information can be found here.

The EU Award for Investigative Journalism 2023 is part of the project “Strengthening Quality Journalism in Western Balkans and Türkiye II”. This aims to recognise and promote outstanding achievements in investigative journalism as well as improve the visibility of quality journalism in the Western Balkans and Türkiye.

The project is funded by the European Union and it is implemented by a consortium composed of Balkan Investigative Reporting Network – BIRN Hub, Central European University (CEU) – Hungary, the Association of Journalists (AJ) – Türkiye, Thomson Media (TM) – Germany, University Goce Delcev Stip (UGD) – North Macedonia, The Independent Union of Journalists and Media Workers (SSNM) – North Macedonia, Media Association of South-East Europe (MASE) – Montenegro, and Balkan Investigative Reporting Network Kosovo (BIRN Kosovo).


BIRN Albania and SCiDEV Present Studies on Disinformation, Propaganda and Fake News

Reports on Russian, Chinese and Iranian propaganda welcomed by EU ambassador in Tirana who calls for a renewed emphasis on ethical journalism

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania, together with Science and Innovation for Development Center, SCiDEV, on July 14 presented the findings of four reports on information manipulation in Albania and the launch of a new website against disinformation.

The study reports were financed by the European Union and analyze the circulation in Albanian-speaking media in Albania, Kosovo and North Macedonia of fake news on Russia’s war against Ukraine, Russian disinformation narratives, as well as Chinese and Iranian propaganda through state-sponsored media in Albanian language.

The presentation of the reports was greeted by the EU Ambassador in Albania, Christiane Hohmann, who emphasized the need for media owners to put quality journalism at the top of their agenda.

“We have to look into how we can actually improve the situation, fight misinformation and disinformation, while promoting ethical journalism,” said Hohmann.

The reports were presented at Europe House in Tirana by BIRN Albania Editor Besar Likmeta and SCiDEV’s Executive Director Blerjana Bino in the presence of media, journalists, civil society activists and media experts.

The reports are published in the newly launched website:, which also contains a database on fake news on the war in Ukraine, as well as educational resources against disinformation, fact-checking links, video tutorials, etc.

Download the reports in English and Albanian:

  1. For the report: “False News on Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine in the Albanian-Language Media” click here.
  2. For the report: “Russian State-Sponsored Narratives in Albania” click here.
  3. For the report: “Media Analysis: China’s Public Diplomacy in Albania” click here.
  4. For the report: “Media Analysis: Iran’s Propaganda in Albanian Language” click here.