The Western Balkan’s Regional Platform for Advocating Media Freedom and Journalists’ Safety, which represents more than 8000 members, strongly condemns death threats to Jelena Stojkovic, journalists of the Serbian Vecernje novosti daily and pressure exerted by the police against Ajdin Kamber, freelancer and Deutsche Welle correspondent and his removal of from the Government of Una-Sana Canton (USK) headquarters by the Prime Minister Ruznic.
After reporting about events in a local elementary school, on November 5th, Jelena Stojkovic received horrific threats from a woman claiming to be the mother of a child involved in the incident. “She called me more than twenty times” – Stojkovic told the Independent Journalists Association of Serbia – “When I answered she threatened to kill me, saying that she’ll get me when I take my child to the kindergarten, that I don’t know who am I dealing with, followed by horrific swearing”. Stojkovic reported the case to the police which, together with the prosecutor, acted promptly and secured protection for Stojkovic.
On November, 6th Ajdin Kamber, freelancer and Deutsche Welle correspondent tried to gain access to Una-Sana Canton Prime Minister Mustafa Ruznic at the Government building. Kamber wanted to arrange an interview about the migrant crisis in USK with Ruznic directly, since he had not received e-mail response days earlier. A plain clothes police officer requested identification documents from Kamber disputing his journalistic accreditation and eventually informed him that the PM Ruznic “had no time for an interview.” The journalist has duly showed his ID and accreditation as requested. After ten minutes of persuasion and an attempt to force Kamber out of the Government building, the Prime Minister Ruznic personally took the journalist out, without explanation regarding his refusal for interview.
The Regional Platform warns that violence and pressures against journalists is increasing daily, especially in the Western Balkan countries. Only this year, safejournalists.net database recorded 57 incidents in Serbia and 33 in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Majority of pressures come from the public officials and are too often followed by horrific threats and attacks by citizens.
We call upon all authorized institutions in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to act and start dealing with the safety of journalists more seriously and international actors to keep the governments accountable and contribute to environment where journalists can work unhindered.
Every attack on journalist is an attack on public interest, democracy and rights of all citizens.
Sarajevo – Podgorica – Zagreb – Prishtina – Skopje – Belgrade, 08.11.2019
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