Journalists from BiH seek a Media Ombudsman

BHN

SARAJEVO,  21.12.2018. –  Journalists are doing their job in bad conditions, and journalism is one of the most underestimated professions in BiH. Black work or work with inadequate contracts represents a significant problem, but neither the signing of a labor contract provides security in the sense of full enjoyment of the rights arising from the employment, as stated in the presentation of the report “Indicators on the level of media freedom and journalists’ safety” held yesterday in Sarajevo.

The author of the research and lawyer in the BH Journalists Association Rea Adilagić emphasized that this reports presents results of the third report conducted within the project Western Balkans Regional Platform for advocating Media Freedom and Journalists Safety, that is implemented by the national associations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia and the Trade Union of Media in Monte Negro.

„The report is a follow up of the start-up research from 2016, which presented in more detail the legislation, socio-economic position and security of journalists on media freedom and journalists ‘safety, and identified key challenges and recommendations for journalists’ associations and other interested actors.“-emphasized Adilagić.

Secretary General of BH Journalists Association Borka Rudić presented shorty the work of the Platform,  saying it is an example that the regional approach and networking of journalistic associations can achieve more effective protection of media freedom and the rights of journalists, given the similar socio-political context in the regions of this region.

„Our task for the coming period is to develop a common regional strategy for improving the position of journalists and legislators in all Western Balkan countries, with a focus on stronger inter-professional solidarity, which is lacking among media professionals.“-said Rudić.

Head of Communication and Spokesperson in EU Delegation in BiH, Jamila Milović Halilović pointed out that this project is one in the series of those that are aiming to improve the position of journalists and to protect freedom of expression, but at the same time to help BiH to fulfill the conditions for joining the European Union in a better and faster way.

„Indicators on the level of media freedom and journalists’ safety present an excellent and very precise cross-section of the situation and I hope that it will be an indicator for some other activities, but also for the progress in BiH membership.“- emphasized Milović Halilović adding that without free media the citizens lack the right on balanced reporting and then they are exposed to biased informing and propaganda.

Journalists Štefica Galić from the Tacno.net portal from Mostar and journalist Melita Mujadžić from RTV Una-Sana Canton from Bihać shared their experiences regarding the regional protection mechanism.

Until now, Štefica Galić has so far faced countless verbal and physical attacks  for promoting democratic values, freedom of speech, critical thinking, and the idea of justice, equality and the protection of human rights. For her social engagement she recieved the Johann Philipp Palm Price for Freedom of Speach 2018.

“Sometimes it seems in vain, but I will not give up and will continue to fight for the truth and write the truth because journalists and journalistic feathers can ignite much more than matches.”- said Galić, emphasizing that she received big help from BHJA and Free Media Help Line.

RTV Una – Sana Canton has been exposed to threats and pressure in the past few months by representatives of the Una-Sana Canton Government and Parliament, who in various ways tried to bring the journalists and editors of this media house into an unsafe and degrading position.

Journalist Melita Mujadžić says politicians on highest positions in the Una – Sana Canton threatened to her, called her on phone and requested she changes her reports or she should give up from her professional integrity, exactly because she was braver and louder than other colleges. They were even sending her messages through her editor to „calm down“!?

“Pressures are not only from the outside, but also from politics, but also from the inside, colleagues and editors who are buffs of various political interests.”-emphasizes Mujadžić and adds that she is sorry there is no more louder colleges who would suppress when in situation like this one.

During the two-hour debate, the present participants from the media community and the international community especially emphasized the importance of publicly announcing every attack on journalists and the media, and thus urging citizens to support media freedoms. It is important that the journalists themselves express their support and solidarity to their colleagues – victims of attacks through writing about these cases and publicly publishing the names of the attackers. They concluded that mutual solidarity, support and public condemnation of any attack on journalists was the best allies to media professionals in the fight against frequent pressures and threats. From the gathering in Sarajevo the juridical and state institutions are called upon to work more dedicated and more efficiently in protecting media freedom and rights of journalists, and the request for having an special media ombudsman, as an independent mechanism for protecting media freedom in repeated.

 The presentation of the report was held within the project Western Balkans Regional Platform for Advocating Media Freedom and Journalists Safety, supported by the EU.

BHN, Sarajevo, 21/12/2018