BH Journalists: Stop targeting female journalists on a personal basis!

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Sarajevo / Banja Luka, May 6, 2022 – The Steering Committee of the BH Journalists Association and the Free Media Help Line (FMHL) strongly condemn yesterday’s verbal attack by the president of the Democratic People’s Alliance (DNS) Nenad Nešić on Snežana Mitrović, a journalist of N1 television from Banja Luka.

When asked by the journalist whether he owns real estate in Belgrade like Mirko Šarović, or like some BiH citizens in Dubai, the DNS president verbally attacked N1 journalist and started mentioning her family, stating that the journalist’s brother is a spokesman for a party whose members own real estate in Dubai. After journalists from other media reacted and stood up for their colleague, Nešić apologized, but continued to attack journalist Mitrović, her privacy and personal integrity.

This is another one in a series of verbal attacks in Bosnia and Herzegovina on journalists in the last few months by politicians, in which they seek to discredit media representatives and humiliate them on a personal basis. It is worrying that political leaders and representatives of government institutions respond to journalistic questions with verbal violence, insults and humiliation, and it’s especially alarming that they are increasingly targeting female journalists.

The Steering Committee of BH Journalists once again reminds politicians and all other public officials that it is their right not to answer journalists’ questions if they do not want to, for whatever reason. However, attempts to discredit and violate the personal and professional dignity of journalists can in no way be a political “argument” or a substitute for answers to journalistic questions of importance to the public!

We also draw attention to the recent public reaction of the Steering Committee of BHJA for the inappropriate behavior of Sarajevo government officials, who in a rude and misogynistic manner treated female journalists who, in addition to professional violence, are most often exposed to verbal violence because they are women. According to the Free Media Help Line, close to 70 attacks and threats against female journalists in BiH have been registered in the last three years. That number speaks of a rapid increase in gender-based violence against female journalists, and it is alarming that politicians and other public officials are among the attackers in almost half of the cases.