SafeJournalist: Threats to journalists of the Center for Investigative Journalism in Bosnia and Herzegovina

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    photo: canva

    Zoran Cegar, head of the Uniformed Police Sector of the Federal Police Administration (FPA) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, threatened and attacked journalists from the Center for Investigative Journalism (CIN) on Wednesday.

    Namely, the CIN journalist asked Zoran Cegar for a comment in front of the Court in Dubrovnik, after the end of the hearing. Cegar reacted violently, threatening: “Don’t let me rip your throat out!”, and pounced on the journalist. The aforementioned chief is being tried for the criminal offense of fraud. According to CIN, he is on trial on the charge of defrauding Darko Markovic, the owner of “Prozura”, a yacht and car rental agency, for 20,000 euros.

    This is not the first time that Cegar threatens CIN journalists. Working on a story about how he acquired multimillion-dollar property in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, CIN contacted Cegar and asked him for an interview, which he refused, with threats and curses. On that occasion, Cegar told the journalists: “Don’t even think of calling me again, so that I don’t come to you from where you are calling me”.

    BH Journalists’ Association (BHJA) says that they are very worried about the safety of their colleagues from CIN, because these are direct and open threats of violence, from a person who already has a history of violent behavior, which the media has reported on before. “We expect the competent institutions to take all necessary measures to protect the safety of journalists, as well as for Cegar to be sanctioned according to an urgent procedure.” According to the information we received from our colleagues from CIN, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Sarajevo Canton approved police protection and constant surveillance for their journalists, and the newsroom is under patrol surveillance. That speaks volumes about the seriousness of the mentioned threats,” said Maja Radevic, a researcher from the BHJA.

    In addition to the Association, the Minister of Internal Affairs of the Federation of BH, Aljosa Campara, reacted today. He submitted a request for the suspension of Zoran Cegar. The Ministry of International Affairs of FBH condemned Cegar’s violent behavior against journalists, stating that “this ministry needs brave and honest policemen, not cowards who threaten and attack women.” The Minister invited the FPA Professional Standards Unit and competent judicial authorities to investigate the case of attacks and threats against CIN journalists as a matter of priority.

    SafeJournalists Network, representing more than 8,200 media professionals in the Western Balkans, joins its member BHJA in condemning this behavior of the head of the police sector towards journalists, and calls on the competent authorities to conduct an effective investigation and adequately punish the perpetrator.

     

    SafeJournalists Network will inform relevant national and international stakeholders about this case.

     

    Each attack on journalists is an attack on public interest, democracy and rights of all citizens.

     

    Skopje – Belgrade – Podgorica – Pristina – Sarajevo – Zagreb – Tirana, 28.10.2022.

     

    Association of Journalists of Kosovo

    Association of Journalists of Macedonia

    BH Journalists Association

    Croatian Journalists’ Association

    Independent Journalists Association of Serbia

    Trade Union of Media of Montenegro