The defamation lawsuit brought by North Macedonia’s former deputy PM Kocho Angjushev must be conducted with the utmost transparency. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joins its affiliate the Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM-ZNM) in condemning the decision by Judge Jovanka Spirovska Paneva on 13 October to close a hearing in the libel case. Journalists and members of the public had to leave the courtroom. The EFJ supports the legal action brought by AJM-ZNM to denounce this decision.
АЈM-ZNM has submitted an application to the Judicial Council to challenge the decision of Judge Jovanka Spirovska Paneva. The case is part of the legal proceedings for insult and defamation brought by Kocho Angjushev, the former deputy prime minister, against the Investigative Reporting Lab (IRL) and editor-in-chief Sashka Cvetkovska for the article published under the title “Conspiracy against the air” on 16 May 2021.
EFJ and AJM-ZNM believe that there is no legitimate legal basis for the judge’s decision. The exclusion of journalists and other witnesses shows a desire for censorship in a case that concerns freedom of expression and the right of Macedonian citizens to be informed about a serious threat to public health.
In December 2021, AJM-ZNM in cooperation with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) awarded the prize for best journalistic investigation to IRL for its report on air pollution in North Macedonia.