BIRN Albania Holds Two-Day Training on Organized Crime

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania held a two-day training on June 20-21 in Tirana on money laundering and organized crime reporting.

More than 20 crime beat and investigative journalists participated in the training session, which was led by British journalist and editor Lawrence Marzouk, the author of new guide published by BIRN: Investigating Organized Crime and Money Laundering in Albania.

During the training, BIRN Albania editor Besar Likmeta also presented the network’s latest database, which includes a complete catalogue of asset sequestration and confiscation orders issued by local courts in Albania over the past decade.

Meanwhile, legal expert Ardit Hysa gave journalists an overview of the legal framework on organized crime and money laundering in the country, discussing the provisions of the criminal code and the anti-mafia law.

The training was welcomed by the Ambassador of the Netherlands in Albania, Reinout Vos, who underlined the important role of the media in the fight against organized crime and money laundering.

“You have an important role in telling the difficult human stories that are behind the machinery of the criminal world, but also putting authorities up against their responsibility to take action,” Vos told the journalists.

The training is part of the project, Raising Awareness and Accountability on Money-Laundering in Albani’, which is supported by the Netherlands.

The goal of this project is to strengthen the fight against organised crime and money-laundering by raising awareness and strengthening the accountability of the system for the seizure and confiscation of the illegal proceeds of crime.

 

BIRN Albania Call for Investigations on Environmental Issues

Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania launched a call for investigative stories on June 15, offering grants for four journalists to produce articles on topics related to environment.

The call is part of the project “Using Big Data and Multimedia to Boost Quality and Independent Journalism in Albania”, supported by the European Union.

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

The call is based on topics suggested by civil society activists and journalists during a joint workshop held on June 10 in Tirana.

The workshop was attended by two dozen civil society activists and journalists, who debated on important topics that should be investigated in the field of the environment as well as on the need to build stronger communication and cooperation between civil society organisations and journalists.

The journalists awarded through this call 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 July 5.

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

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

 

BIRN Albania Holds Discussion on the Environment

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania held a roundtable discussion in Tirana about the environment on Friday June 10.

The event, which was attended by 31 journalists and representatives of civil society organisations working in the field of environmental protection.

This activity was part of the project ‘Using Big Data and Multimedia to Boost Quality and Independent Journalism in Albania’ co-funded by the European Union and Swedish government and implemented by BIRN.

The discussion was moderated by Ola Mitre, TV reporter with Albania’s SCAN television station.

The event produced lively debate about important topics that should be investigated in the field of the environment as well as the need to build stronger communication and cooperation between civil society organisations and journalists.

The main topics discussed included the impacts of hydro power plants and the protection of the Vjosa River, the impact on the health of the population from industrial pollution – particularly extractive industries, waste management, recycling and differentiation waste collection, the lack of capacities to monitor pollution, bans on single-use plastic bags, environmental impact assessments and environment crime.

The discussion will inform BIRN Albania’s upcoming call for an investigation on the topic of the environment.

 

 

Fjori Sinoruka

Fjori joined Balkan Insight in February 2021 as a correspondent in Albania. She is based in Tirana and responsible for daily news as well as in-depth stories and analysis.

Previously, she worked for a local media outlet in Albania focusing on investigations and human rights. She was part of Resonant Voice Fellowship in 2020 by BIRN.

Fjori studied journalism at the University of Tirana.

BIRN Albania Calls for Investigations on Organised Crime and Money-Laundering

BIRN Albania launched an open call for investigative stories on February 15, offering grants for three journalists to produce articles on the themes of organised crime and money laundering.

BIRN is offering grants for three journalists to work on organised crime and money-laundering stories, with mentoring by experienced editors.

The call is part of the project ‘Raising Awareness and Accountability on Money-Laundering in Albania’, which is supported by the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The goal of this project is to strengthen the fight against organised crime and money-laundering by raising awareness and strengthening the accountability of the system for the seizure and confiscation of the illegal proceeds of crime.

Three journalists will be awarded grants to cover their expenses while conducting investigations and writing their stories.

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’s standards.

The call only applies to journalists from Albania and closes on February 28.

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

Click here to download the application (in Albanian).

BIRN Albania Holds Roundtable on the Fight Against Organized Crime

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania held on Wednesday February 9th a roundtable in Tirana on the topic of organized crime and money laundering.

The event, which was attended by 23 journalists and representatives of civil society organisations and international institutions working in the field of organised crime, money-laundering and illicit asset recovery, is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands-supported project ‘Raising Awareness and Accountability on Money Laundering in Albania’.

The goal of the project is to strengthen the fight against organised crime and money-laundering by raising awareness and strengthening accountability on the system for the seizure and confiscation of the illegal proceeds of crime.

The discussion was moderated by Fabian Zhilla, an Associate Professor at the Canadian Institute of Technology and expert with the Global Initiative Against Transnational and Organized Crime.

The roundtable produced lively debate about important topics that should be investigated in the field of organised crime and money-laundering as well as the need to build stronger bridges of communication and cooperation between civil society and journalists.

The main topics discussed included the sectors of Albania’s economy more affected by money laundering, access to documents and sources and methodologies used by investigative journalist to uncover wrongdoing and hold institutions to account for their fight against the illicit proceeds of crime.

The roundtable will inform BIRN Albania’s upcoming call for an investigation on the topic of organised crime and money laundering.

Journalist for BIRN Albania Wins Reporting Award

Journalist Jerola Ziaj has been awarded the best reporting award by the Albanian Union of Journalists for 2021.

Ziaj was recognised for her hard-hitting investigative stories about property issues non Albania’s southern coast.

“Her reporting about the property issues on Albania’s southern coast caused numerous reactions from the public and institutions and exposed the problem of corruption related to property issues in Albania, which has led to a criminal investigation,” said the Albanian Union of Journalists.

Ziaj is a reporter for A2 CNN TV in the city of Vlora and a frequent contributor to BIRN Albania’s site Reporter.al, on which she has published a number of investigations into property fraud on Albania’s southern coast.

She has worked as a correspondent for various national TV stations and online media since 2009.

 

 

Albanian Investigative Journalist Wins Award

Albanian journalist Anila Hoxha has been named as the winner of an investigative journalism competition organised by the OSCE Presence in Albania for the article ‘PPP Sterilisation Contract Costs Healthcare System Dearly’.

The investigation shed light on how doctors in Albania struggle to save patients’ lives while keeping costs under control due to a problematic public-private partnership contract for the supply of surgical instruments that was signed with a health consortium that has political ties.

The article was November in December 2020 by BIRN Albania’s online publication Reporter.al, as part of BIRN Albania’s mentorship scheme for local journalists, which aims to nurture quality investigative reporting.

Hoxha is an experienced court and crime journalists with Albania’s Top Channel TV. The award was presented during the 7th annual Media Development Forum organised by the OSCE Presence in Albania.

 

 

 

BIRN Albania Opens Call for Investigations on Public Finances

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania launched a call for investigative stories on November 30, offering grants for three journalists to produce articles on topics related to public finances.

The call is part of the project “Exposing Corruption Through Investigative Journalism,” which is financially supported by the National Endowment for Democracy, NED.

The call is based on topics suggested by two dozen civil society activists and journalists during a joint roundtable held on November 25 in which they concluded that topics related to public finances should be investigated.

Those suggested in the roundtable included:

  • Arrears from public contracting for works and services
  • Lack of competition and corruption in public procurement
  • The use of secret contracts in the security sector to hide corruption,
  • Corruption and mismanagement of public companies
  • Nepotism and undue influence in selection of members of regulatory bodies and boards,
  • Use of public resources for political propaganda
  • Mismanagement in Albania’s oil sector, and state capture.
  • The problems with the delivery of services by local government entities
  • The lack of transparency of political party finances

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 December 25.

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

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

 

 

 

 

BIRN Albania Holds Workshop on Media Monitoring in Elections

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania held a workshop for experts and civil society on November 9 in Tirana on media and social media monitoring during the elections.

The workshop was greeted by the British Ambassador in Tirana, Alastair King-Smith and the State Commissioner for Elections, Ilirjan Celibashi.

During the last election campaign in April, BIRN Albania piloted new social listening technologies and sound quantitative and qualitative methodologies to monitor for the first time the political discourse in the online and social media.

The findings of the monitoring were shared with experts from Central Electoral Commission, the Audiovisual Media Authority and civil society experts.

The objective of the workshop was to discuss methodologies used and findings of mainstream and alternative media monitoring, but, most importantly, to focus on lessons learned from these pilot studies and recommendations drafted for future legislative and procedural improvements related to the monitoring of media and political party finances.