BHJA: Urgently suspend the ivestigation of journalists and reject the criminal charge by the Minister Adnan Delić

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Source/Author: BHJA

The Board of Directors of the BH Journalists Association (BHJA)  and the Helpline for Journalists send a public protest to Adnan Delic, Minister of Labor and Social Policy of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH), for attempting to criminalize journalists and the media who wrote about his intentions to illegally distribute public money to citizens’ associations. in this entity.

Minister Delić filed a criminal charges with the Cantonal Prosecutor’s Office in Sarajevo and asked the judicial and police institutions to investigate who provided the journalists of Hayat TV and the portal Slobodna Bosna and Istraga.ba with documents on the basis of which they wrote about an attempt to illegally and non-transparently divide 728,000 KM of budget funds. . Acting on the basis of Minister Delic’s report, the Prosecutor’s Office of Sarajevo Canton issued several orders to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Sarajevo Canton, whose officials asked Hayat TV to provide them with information about the journalists who wrote the aforementioned text, so that they could “be heard as witnesses”.

Filing criminal charges against journalists and the media represents a serious attack on freedom of expression and freedom of the media, as well as an attempt to deprive journalists of their right to critically question the decisions of public officials and use information obtained from unnamed sources. The BHJA Steering Committee reminds Minister Delic that, assuming public office, he voluntarily agreed to public criticism of the way he performs his duties and makes decisions, which is why it is completely unbelievable that he reacts to media content that he does not like with a criminal report!? BHJA, therefore, remind him that in democratic societies and free political debate, ministers mostly “defend themselves” with arguments and evidence, and not by persecuting journalists or by criminalizing them with the aim of deceiving the public about real facts and ways of disposing of budget funds.

The decision of the KS Prosecutor’s Office to uncritically accept the criminal complaint of Minister Delic and resort to legal actions contrary to the standards of the Council of Europe on the protection of freedom of expression and the application of Article 10 of the European Convention on the Protection of Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms is particularly surprising. The order on the collection of data on Hayat TV journalists and their eventual questioning as witnesses also contradicts the provisions of Article 96 of the Law on Criminal Procedure of the FBiH, which prohibits the questioning of journalists on the circumstance of revealing the source of information.

The Management Board of BHJA calls on the KS Prosecutor’s Office to immediately suspend all investigative actions against Hayat TV journalists as well as the Slobodna Bosna and Istraga.ba portals, to withdraw the order on the questioning of journalists as witnesses and to dismiss Delić’s criminal complaint in its entirety as unfounded. At the same time, the Board of BH Journalists gives full support to the journalists of Slobodna Bosna, Hayat TV and the Istraga.ba portal in order to protect their sources, and encourages them to refuse to provide the police with any data or documents that may violate the confidentiality and integrity of information sources, as well as trust. between information sources and these three media.

Board of Directors of BH Journalists

PHOTO: Harun Muminović