We ask the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina to take responsibility for the impunity of attacks on journalists

Sarajevo,Banja Luka, 2.11.2018. – The BH Journalists’ Steering Committee  and Free Media Help Line request more responsible, more professional and more effective resolution of attacks on journalists, and sanctioning the ones who endanger security, lives and basic human rights of journalists and media professionals from the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, at the state level and in the entities – Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska.

November 2, is known as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists. Bosnia and Herzegovina still does not have legally released dozens of physical attacks on journalists and media teams, attempted murder and other brutal violations of the right to freedom of expression.

In the last two years, Free Media Help Line registered 118  cases of endangering the security, life and rights of journalists in BiH, among which was an attempted murder, 11 physical attacks, 13 explicit threats to death and dozens of other forms of violation freedom of expression. None of the perpetrators of these criminal offenses has been sanctioned or prosecuted in an adequate and expeditious manner that would show that BiH institutions act in accordance with international standards of protection of life and security of journalists in an efficient and responsible manner.

We recall, that the other assailant of the journalist Vladimir Kovacevic has not yet been completed, nor has his extradition been requested since he is a fugitive since August 2018 when the murder attempt happened in the center of Banja Luka.

Death threats and physical attacks on journalists and media teams BHRT, FTV, BNTV, Žurnal, Klix and Bljesak portal, then journalists Dragan Bursač, Stefan Galić, Slobodan Vasković, Amir Zukic, Nedžad Latić and many others not only are not professionally investigated by the police and the prosecutor’s office, but have never been adequately prosecuted through the existing judicial system and the perpetrators are not sanctioned. Our demands and appeals to sanction the assailants of journalists live in one day in a smaller number of media and never come to the ones they are referring to. The state does not hear us, journalists and media are living and surviving in an increasingly radical and uncertain environment, fearing daily from new attacks or other forms of preventing decent and safe work.

That is why we are once again loudly demand and expect from the competent state institutions, before all the state-level justice ministries and entities, to urgently initiate changes to criminal legislation that will ensure more effective protection of journalists – victims of criminal offenses and enforce police and judicial institutions in accordance with international standards of protection freedom of expression and the availability of justice to journalists.

Today, it should be said loudly that no case of murder, death or disappearance of journalists in the previous war has been researched or legally terminated! The BH journalists’ association has just completed the research and evoked the names of journalists and media workers killed and missing in 1992-1996 on the battlefields across BiH. On that list are 80 names, including 12 foreign journalists and cameramen. The list will be submitted to the BiH Prosecutor’s Office with a resolution requesting the opening of an investigation into the killings and suffering of journalists in the Bosnian Serb war, and sanctioning of the perpetrators.

The BH Journalists’ Steering Committee  and Free Media Help Line emphasize that journalist attacks are not just an attack on their physical and mental integrity – they are, at the same time, an attack on freedom of expression, freedom of media and democratic value of every society. Naturally, those who are responsible are the ones attacking the journalistic profession, but responsibilities are also on the state bodies and institutions that are expected to fully respect domestic laws and their international obligations including sanctioning of perpetrators and instigators of crime and violence against journalists . Therefore, we call on the BH authorities to urgently bring to justice all attackers and to support the proposal of the International Federation of Journalists to bring the UN to the Convention on the Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals. We also recall that BiH must also urgently implement in practice the UN Action Plan on Journalists Safety and Prevention of Impunity, as well as Council of Europe Recommendations for the Protection and Security of Journalists and Other Media Workers.

The BH Journalists’ Steering Committee , Sarajevo, Banja Luka, 02/11/2018

BHJA Steering Committee , Sarajevo, Banja Luka, 02/11/2018