IJAS: President Vucic and Other Political Actors to Stop Targeting Journalists

Source/Author: IJAS

Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia (IJAS) condemns the behavior of high-ranking government officials and calls on the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, and all political actors to stop targeting journalists, because the way they do it is a direct threat to security. With their performances, representatives of the authorities create targets for further attacks on journalists, given that the hostile atmosphere towards journalists and the media is also transmitted to citizens who threaten them, especially on social networks.

After the worsening of the situation in Kosovo, in the past three days, in his address to the nation, President Vucic targeted the daily newspaper “Danas”, accusing them of wanting “Serbia to be destroyed”, and the day before, in another address to the nation, N1 journalist Sanja Sovrlic was accused of insinuating that Serbia gave weapons to the attackers in Kosovo. Two nights before, after the show on TV “Happy”, which spoke negatively about the show TV Insider from 2012, in connection with the embezzlement of money from Kosovo, during the night a message addressed to the editor-in-chief Brankica Stankovic was published on the social network X (Twitter): “Brankica, pack your bags yourself so we don’t pack them for you”, from a profile that was later deleted.

Yesterday, the editorial office of “Danas” received a message that “After the burning, there will be no mention of them.” N1 journalist Maja Đuric was first verbally and then physically attacked by security workers of the Mitros factory in Sremska Mitrovica. The N1 TV crew was in the public area from where they intended to record a feature related to the previously published information about the suspension of production at this factory.

It has become a regular practice that in such turbulent situations journalists and the media become targets for threats and disqualifications because they are doing their job – reporting on events that are of public interest and the essence of their job is to provide the public with timely and accurate information.

We remind that politicians are obliged to help protect journalism and freedom of expression through their responsible behavior.

IJAS emphasizes that it is no longer just media freedom and media pluralism that is at stake, but also a serious threat to the safety of journalists with potentially serious consequences.

It is the last moment for the holders of power to accept us as equal partners in the process of democratization of society and enable full freedom of expression.

According to the records of the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic, in 2023, by the end of July, 50 criminal reports were submitted to the public prosecutor’s office for threats and pressure on journalists. In seven cases, a decision was made to dismiss the criminal complaint or an official note was issued that there are no grounds for initiating criminal proceedings. In four cases, a guilty verdict was pronounced. Also, two cases are pending before the court. In three cases, the perpetrators are unknown, and 34 cases are at some stage of the procedure before the prosecution.

In 2023, until mid-September, 131 cases of attacks and pressures (33 verbal attacks, 7 physical attacks and 91 pressures) were recorded in the IJAS database (bazenuns.rs).