BELGRADE, 22.01.2018. – Officials from the Reporters Without Borders organization met with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to discuss the worsening atmosphere in the country and the safety of journalists, the head of that organization’s Balkans and EU desk Pauline Ades-Mevel told N1 after the meeting.
She said they were there to discuss safety after the recent attacks on Zig Info portal journalist Milan Jovanovic who reported on alleged corruption in the local authorities. “We are not convinced that he is fully taking this case into consideration,” she said.
She recalled that Serbia has fallen 10 places on the World Press Freedom Index for 2018, which, she added, is one of the worst results in the region. Ades-Mevel said the cause of the drop in ranking was, most probably, the number of verbal assaults and hate speech directed at journalists. “We condemn the fact that there were son many verbal assaults and threats on social networks and tabloids,” she said adding that the Serbian president insisted that the situation was no worse than in other countries in the region.
“Reporters Without Borders came to Belgrade to meet the president and raise certain questions about the atmosphere which we believe is deteriorating. One of the issues we discussed was the safety of journalists and the fact that some journalists, especially after the attack on Milan Jovanovic, are saying that the situation is not good and that they are scared,” she said.
Ades-Mevel said they told the Serbian president that it is important to end the practice of impunity and hold masterminds to account so that journalists can feel safe.
“We welcome the president’s willingness to admit that the situation in Serbia is not ideal but we do not share that view,” she said and expressed the hope that their discussion with Vucic would be followed by concrete action.
N1, Belgrade, 22/01/2019