BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA – Ranked: 58 (+ 5 places)
We talked to Borka Rudic, Secretary general of BH Journalists Association
The report largely reflects the real situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and addresses some of the most important issues in the media and the position of journalists. Although moving up five positions on the ladder is encouraging, it should be emphasized that the number of physical, verbal and cyber attacks and various forms of pressures on journalists in BiH continues to increase.
At the same time, we believe that this report shows that the efforts of BH Journalists, legitimate pressures on local authorities, legal actions instituted to protect freedom of expression, as well as advocates of the action, have made it possible to pursue media freedom and more responsible government behaviour in preventing attacks and crimes against journalists.
We are still concerned that journalists are being attacked for their ethnic background, especially on social media through hate speech and death threats. For this reason, we fully agree with the RSF’s view that “a polarized political climate, characterized by constant verbal attacks and nationalist rhetoric, has created a hostile environment for press freedom” in BiH.
We also welcome very clear criticisms of the BiH prosecutors’ offices, which are currently the weakest link in the chain of investigations into violence against journalists and judicial proceedings against assailants. The report stated that investigative journalists were targeted by prosecutors and their officials because they were dealing with scams that were not properly prosecuted by the Justice Department. BH journalists have repeatedly responded to these cases, especially in the context that it is endemic that the judiciary with legal authority and protection of the security and rights of journalists now appears as violators of media freedoms and rights of journalists.
Particularly important is the assessment regarding public service broadcasters, which are said to be “instrumented for political purposes”, which is also the assessment of BH Journalists. Such an assessment enables us in BiH to continue to fight for the de-politicization of public services and their work in the interest of the public rather than particular political and national interests.
Finally, we are pleased that the report itself focuses more on the physical security of journalists, and recalls that general insecurity, including “vague conditions of employment for journalists” and “short-term employment contracts” are the biggest obstacles to media freedom in BiH. This area is part of the ongoing activities of BH Journalists at the national level and the SafeJournalists network at the regional level, so that through the RSF report they received additional arguments to continue to work in this direction and be even more effective in protecting their members – journalists and all other media professionals.