AJM: Dramatic increase in attacks on journalists – we are looking for urgent solutions

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Skopje, 02.11.2020 –

On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, AJM today held press conference at which the President and members of the Board of Directors of the Association sent several important messages.

The first message is addressed to the public and political parties that professional journalists should not and must not be attacked for practicing their profession.

The second message was sent to the Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office requesting that all attacks and threats against journalists and media workers should be prosecuted immediately. In this manner, it will contribute to the protection of democracy in the country.

“We ask the Ministry of Justice to make changes in the Criminal Code in the next period. The amendments should expand the competence of the prosecution to act ex officio in crimes related to attacks and threats against journalists and increase the penalties for attackers. At the same time, we ask the Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office to establish special unit that will prosecute the attackers of journalists,” said Mladen Chadikovski, President of AJM.

Journalists and media workers play key role in our country as guardians of the public interest, and the journalistic profession is important part of any democratic society. This year, compared to previous years, journalists often face verbal and physical attacks only because they perform their professional duties, while the perpetrators remain unpunished. It is important to note that impunity inevitably leads to self-censorship, restricts free media space, and deprives the public from the right to be informed.

According to AJM statistics, from the beginning of this year until now, we have recorded 14 attacks and harsh threats against journalists, out of which more than half are against women journalists. In comparison, last year there were four such incidents, which means that this year the attacks and threats are three times more. Although physical attacks have decreased, it is worrying the fact that more and more threats to the lives of journalists are being reported on social networks. In this regard, the Ministry of Interior should make additional efforts for sanctioning the perpetrators, and to request from the Public Prosecutor’s Office to initiate criminal proceedings for more serious cases.

The creation of safe working conditions for journalists and media workers is regularly noted in the reports on the Republic of Northern Macedonia in the reports of the European Commission. Therefore, the Government should take this issue more seriously and encourage the affected institutions not only to resolve the cases of attacked journalists but also to prevent new ones in the future.

AJM remains available to be constructive partner in improving the regulation of these issues but also in improving the case law in accordance with the practices of the European Court of Human Rights. AJM also calls on all journalists who have been subject to threats and attacks to report to the association in order to receive free legal aid and to follow how they will be processed by law enforcement agencies.