Coalition for Media Freedom: Public Officials to Stop Dangerous Media Targeting

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Source/Author: IJAS

The Coalition for Media Freedom strongly condemns the targeting and calling for attacks on journalists from N1, Nova S and the Nova newspaper by the member of the main board of the Serbian Progressive Party and the director of the transport company “Lasta” Vladan Sekulic. At the same time, we call for his responsibility, considering that he cannot perform the function of director of a public company with such rhetoric.

On Sekulic’s Instagram account, a video titled “Stop Foreign Propaganda” was published, in which journalists from these media companies are targeted with the message “we must oppose this evil” along with footage of grasshoppers and other insect pests. It points out that there is a “path to liberation” and shows a clip from the animated film in which a character holds a flamethrower.

Lately, the leaders of the ruling coalition have often targeted the journalists of these media, as well as that a group of people have been continuously protesting in front of their premises, and entered their private space.

The coalition believes that such announcements in the most direct way endanger the safety of journalists of these media and that additionally create very dangerous situations in which there could be direct attacks on journalists, especially because such words come from public officials who represent a model of behavior for citizens. In this difficult moment for our society, the Coalition believes that the representatives of the government should do everything to calm the tensions in society, and not to further inflame them.

We have already warned several times that such actions are very dangerous and that the consequences can be far-reaching. This kind of atmosphere and negative attitude towards journalists and the media is transmitted to citizens, who, most often, on social networks, also send threats, harass and insult journalists and further incite hatred.

We remind that hate speech is punishable in Serbia, which is defined in several legal acts – Article 11 of the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination, Article 75 of the Law on Public Information and Media, Article 51 of the Law on Electronic Media, and hate speech is also included in Articles 317 and 387 Criminal Code.

According to the NUNS (IJAS) database of attacks and pressures on journalists in 2023, by mid-June, out of a total of 69 recorded pressures, 39 were made by public officials, and especially dominated by those by the highest officials, primarily the Prime Minister and MPs.

The coalition especially points out the danger of such messages because we live in a society where we had the murders of journalists Slavko Curuvija, Milan Pantic and Dada Vujasinovic, which still did not receive a final judicial epilogue.

 

Belgrade,

11.07.2023.

 

The Coalition for Media Freedom consists of the Association of Media, the Association of Online Media (AOM), the Independent Association of Journalists of Vojvodina (NDNV), the Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia (NUNS), the Business Association of Local and Independent Media “Local Press” and the Slavko Curuvija Foundation.