BH JOURNALISTS: Police in Mostar must not censor the media and social networks

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Source/Author: BHJA
Source/Photo: BHJA

Sarajevo/Mostar, June 27, 2024. – The Steering Committee of  BH Journalists Association directs a public protest to the Minister of the Interior of the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton, Marija Marić, as well as other leading people of the Ministry of the Interior of the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton (MUP HNK) due to the intention to change the Law on Public Order and Peace and enable police control media content and posts on social networks. Minister Marić and his colleagues from the Ministry of Internal Affairs announced this possibility at a press conference in Mostar, accusing the media of spreading false news and endangering the safety of citizens in the HNK through reports on the event from two months ago.

For the Steering Committee of BH Journalists, it is completely unacceptable that the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the HNK decided to create legal possibilities to censor the media and limit the right of journalists to freely and objectively create media content, without first submitting complaints to the competent (self) regulator or taking legal measures against those who, as it was said at the press conference, “created a climate of insecurity” for the citizens of Mostar with their media announcements. In democratic and free societies, police structures and security agencies should use legitimate means of responding to journalistic reports, and not resort to new legal provisions that lead to censorship and restriction of freedom of expression in the media and on social networks.

Statements that the media in Mostar will not be allowed to publish information before and beyond the official announcements of the Ministry of Internal Affairs are particularly problematic for the Steering Committee of BH Journalists, since they suggest the potential closure of this institution to the media and the public, as well as limiting the free flow of public information of importance to citizens. On the same level of inadmissibility is Minister Marić’s announcement that the media and social networks will be declared “external media space” through the announced changes to the Law on Public Order and Peace, and that the police will “ex officio” initiate investigations against journalists, the media and people on social networks .

BH journalists remind Minister Mario Marić and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton that the creation of legal provisions for police supervision of publications in the media and on social networks is not a European standard for legitimate freedom of expression, nor can it be a solution to the publication of security-problematic content or fake news. Bosnia and Herzegovina, including Herzegovina-Neretva Canton, have adequate criminal sanctions for all acts of endangering security, and the Regulatory Agency for Communications and the Press Council as bodies responsible for reacting to unprofessional media writing. This should be the legal and institutional framework for everyone, including the Mostar police, to respond to publications in the media and on social networks, not censorship or police surveillance of freedom of expression.

 

Steering Committee of BH journalists