Journalists’ at risk for prosecution in draft law on protection of classified information

Source/Author: Association of Journalists of Kosovo

PRISTINA, 24.10.2018 – The Association of Journalists of Kosovo (AJK) requested from the government’s commission to exempt journalists and their sources and whistleblowers from the draft law on protection of classified documents which foresees prison sentences if state secrets are published.

The draft law on protection of classified documents, sponsored by PM’s office, envisaged to classify country’s documents in four categories, with the highest ones as ‘top secret’ and if such document is revealed for public, the person that publishes the information shall be punished by imprisonment from five to 12 years.

Top secret documents, according to draft law, is categorised as “unauthorized dissemination and publication of which, under reasonable assessment, could result in exceptionally grave damage to the security interests of the Republic of Kosovo”.

On Tuesday’s public debate organised by PM’s office, the representative of the AJK, Ardian Nikolla reiterated the organisation’s stance that such legal basis would violate the right to freedom of expression and the media too.

Also, the draft law will have a deterrent effect on journalists’ sources and whistleblowers who would hesitate to share information to journalists that are of interest of public.

This way the actual draft law will prevent the media from carrying out their tasks of informing the public with accurate and reliable information.

Moreover, AJK considered that this legal basis is in opposition and should be harmonized with the draft law on the protection of whistleblowers that are protected from any criminal or civil prosecution for reporting or disclosing information that is of general interest.