“Public bodies and officials should not enjoy additional protection from critical speech, on the contrary they should tolerate a larger degree of criticism than ordinary citizens. Criminal sanctions for libel or defamation are excessive and disproportionate. They should be replaced by effective and appropriate civil or administrative law remedies," Mijatovic said.
If adopted, the proposal by the Council of Ministers would introduce prison terms of up to three years for “libel against a high state official or elected person," the OSCE said on its website, adding that the bill will come up for a vote in parliament on November 13.
“I call on members of parliament to reject the new proposal and instead consider fully repealing criminal defamation,” Mijatovic said.
In 2012, the authorities in Albania decided to abolish prison sentences for defamation offences, a decision that was welcomed by the representative, the OSCE noted.