Coalition for Media Freedom: The Commissioner Should Learn Role of Media in Democratic Society

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Source/Author: IJAS

The Coalition for Media Freedom is concerned about the fact that, during the inspection, regarding the actions of Belgrade Police Chief Veselin Milic at the press conference on May 3, 2023, the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Data Protection determined that there was no omission by the Belgrade Police Chief, but that the media that reported on the conference were to blame for the disclosure of information about minors. In this way, the institution of the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Data Protection showed a deep misunderstanding of the journalistic profession as well as the role of the media in a democratic society.

We remind the public that journalists did not come in an illegal way to the list of children who are underage K.K. wanted to kill, but the list was made available to the public precisely by the chief of the Belgrade police, who showed the list at a press conference. The position of the Commissioner, according to which the law was violated by journalists and the media reporting from the press conference, is not only contrary to the basic postulates of freedom of expression, but also contrary to the basic rules of logic.

We ask the Commissioner how it is possible that the one who made the information available to the public is not responsible, but that the one responsible is the one who conveyed the information, and that information was made available to the public by the Belgrade police chief personally at a press conference? Why did information and lists appear at the press conference that journalists should not convey?

We invite the Commissioner, if he has not already done so to the journalists of BIRN, to answer the public what he has learned so far during the inspection, whether it can really be concluded from the minutes of the inspection carried out so far that the law was violated by the media that reported on it from the press conference, and not the one who showed the list and thus made it available to the public and to use his own powers to end the inspection, regardless of the internal control procedure, because we believe that the Commissioner has enough information to make a decision whether in the specific case, the law was broken or not.

The Coalition for Media Freedom: 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”, the Slavko Curuvija Foundation and Branch Trade Union of Culture, Arts and Media ‘Nezavisnost’