Crisis Headquarters to inform the public about the epidemic, unbiased cooperation with media outlets is of utmost importance

Mediji novinari novinar snimanje, kamera
FOTO: KoSSev

Representatives of Serbian civil society and independent media in Kosovo call on the Crisis Headquarters in Gracanica and officials at the Clinical-Hospital Centre in Pristina situated in Gracanica to inform the public of the epidemiological situation in Serb communities in central Kosovo, and for the Crisis Centre in the north of Kosovo to end their practice of selectivity when informing media outlets.

The Kosovo Serb CSOs and certain media outlets, including the KoSSev portal, pointed out that it is worrying that officials say nothing or are selective in their choice of media with whom they share information as the number of infections in Gracanica municipality and the number of citizens with high temperatures who present themselves on a daily basis to doctors at the infectious diseases department at the Clinic in Laplje Selo rises.

“The Administration of the KBC and its doctors are completely closed to speaking with certain media outlets,” the statement reads.

They also warned about the Crisis Centres’ behaviour towards journalists from the north of Kosovo:

“Likewise, the Crisis Centres in the north of Kosovo are highly selective in terms of the media that they chose to provide information to related to the pandemic. When they organise press conferences, they do not invite all media news teams and likewise do not send them information related to the pandemic. Government officials who are members of these Crisis Centres do not respond to calls and questions from media outlets when journalists attempt to seek out answers.”

In a situation of great risk to public health, the obligation of the Crisis Centres is to inform the public on a daily basis on the current epidemiological situation, including proposed measures to protect the citizenry from the coronavirus.

Aside from providing healthcare services, officials at the KBC in Pristina situated in Gracanica and their colleagues in North Mitrovica, Strpce, Kosovsko Pomoravlje and in the Pec/Peja region are obligated to inform citizens on the epidemiological situation and therefore unbiased cooperation with media outlets is of utmost importance – the statement also reads.

Therefore, Serbian civil society and the media demand from the authorities in the Clinical Hospital Centre Pristina based in Gracanica and the local Crisis Centres to regularly, via press conferences, inform the public about the number of patients infected with COVID-19, testing of citizens who exhibit symptoms of the virus, capacity for the treatment and admission of patients. They also emphasized that these Crisis Headquarters should stop selectively informing the media.

“In regards to the above-mentioned issues, we demand from relevant institutions, particularly the Crisis Centre in the Gracanica Municipality, to begin, without further delay, holding daily press conferences or the issuing of press releases in order to inform the wider public of  the course of the epidemiological situation as well as on measures undertaken in the goal of ending speculation as to the number and status of those infected in Serb-majority areas.”

“Furthermore, we demand that the Crisis Centre in the north of Kosovo adapt an unbiased approach towards all news teams,” CSOs and the media underlined.

At time point in time, the top priority of institutions must be the health of all citizens as well as the stability of the healthcare system, which is a basic pre-condition for preventing the further spread of the COVID-19 virus – the signatories of this statement concluded.

The statement was signed by the following CSOs and media outlets:

Aktiv, Alternative Association, Advocacy Center for Democratic Culture (ACDC), Center for the Rights of Minority Communities, Communication for Social Development (CSD), Centre for Communities Development, Center for Social Initiatives, Crno-beli svet, Forum for Development and Multiethnic Cooperation (FDMC), Gracanica Online, Humani centar Mitrovica, InTER, Kossev, New Press, New Social Initiative, Radio Gorazdevac, Radio Kontakt Plus, RTV Kim.

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