The Western Balkan’s Regional Platform for Advocating Media Freedom and Journalists’ Safety, representing more than 7800 members, strongly condemns the latest threats against media and journalists in Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
After the article „Here is who we need to live with: The abominable reaction of the Bosnia’s public to the death of General Praljak“, was published on the internet portal Dnevnik.ba, numerous direct threats were addressed to journalists and media experts from Bosnia and Herzegovina via Facebook or email: Sanjal Kajan, journalist in Al Jazeera Balkans, Štefica Galić, editor of the portal Tačno.net, Arijani Sarajević Helać, editor of Federal Television and Lejla Turčilo, professor of the Faculty of Political Sciences in Sarajevo, and others. These journalists reported and expressed their opinion about the final verdict of Praljak and suicide he committed in ICTY. Their opinions were quoted in the article, followed by hate speech and insults.
In Croatia, there were numerous threats, including even death threats, against journalists and media on account of reporting on verdicts for six BH Croats and suicide of general Slobodan Praljak in the courtroom of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY. The main target of those threats were journalists and media that pointed out in their articles the fact that the accused, general Praljak included, were convicted for war crimes.
Earlier this week, Marija Antic, journalist of N1 TV hosted Arnaud Gouillon, who worked extensively with Serbs in Kosovo, to discuss his humanitarian engagement and the upcoming public discussion at the Faculty of Political Science. She asked Gouillon about his previous engagement in the Les Identitaires, an extreme right organization in France, which he joined after an organization called Unité radicale, where he was active, had been banned in 2002. This line of questioning caused a salve of death threats to Antic and N1 in general, reminding us that there are “death lists” and that time will come when these ‘foreign mercenary scumbags calling themselves journalists’ will be dealt with.
Three different verbal attacks occurred in three different countries, and the Platform finds this very worrying. This says a lot for the safety of journalists in Western Balkans countries and for the freedom of speech in general.
The Platform will send letters of concern to all relevant authorities in Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina requesting of them to prevent any form of violence against journalists, to urgently and thoroughly investigate all facts about these and other cases of violations and finally to start acting upon those cases. By doing so they will send a strong message to the public that such behavior is not acceptable. Also, The Platform will report the case to the Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists.
Attacking and threatening journalists is a direct attack on freedom of expression and the right of citizens to be informed. Each attack on journalists is attack on public interest, democracy and rights of all citizens.
Skopje – Belgrade – Podgorica – Prishtina – Sarajevo – Zagreb, 08.12.2017.
BH Journalists Association
Trade Union of Media of Montenegro
Croatian Journalists’ Association
Association of Journalists of Kosovo
Association of Journalists of Macedonia
Independent Journalists Association Serbia