Journalists protest in Gracanica and Pristina: Threats, attacks and impunity must stop

Media Freedom Day in Kosovo was marked with protests in Gracanica and Pristina.

„This May 3rd, too, we mark similarly as in the past years. Our media freedom is jeopardized, our right to work is jeopardized. This is nothing new, as well as this May 3rd those responsible for kidnapping and killing of our colleagues live free. Also, those who demolished, six times so far, the plaque that we set up at the place where our colleagues Djuro Slavuj and Ranko Perenic were kidnapped in 1998 remain unidentified and free from trial“ – these were the words which the Journalist Association of Serbia Kosovo branch Head, Budimir Nicic addressed the public and colleagues with, from Gracanica.

The Journalists Association of Serbia Kosovo branch organized the gathering. Representatives of the Association of Professional Journalists of Kosovo, including Albanian journalists, also attended.

Requests that journalists in Gracanica put out included – for the Specialist Chambers for War Crimes to consider killed and kidnapped journalists as special cases; for Kosovo institutions to respect the Law on Official Use of Languages in Kosovo and provide translation for all events organized, especially in the Kosovo’s Parliament in the course of entire sessions, and not only when Serb representatives are attending, which has been the case so far.

"We demand from the Prosecution Office in Pristina and from EULEX to launch investigations into kidnapping and killings that are not part of the Specialist Chambers mission, as well as to provide timely information to the public, but also from Kosovo Police, Prosecution and Court in Pristina to investigate and bring to justice all those responsible for attacks against journalists and their properties in past years”, Nicic added.

Petrit Colaku, Head of APJK spoke in Gracanica on behalf of the organization. He joined the protest so that – as he said – there would be one voice to convey that the lack of punishment, threats and attacks against colleagues had to stop.

Our association, he further explained, advocated for “launching an investigation into cases of kidnapped and killed colleagues since 1999 till the last case in 2005.”

The JAS Kosovo branch Head, Budimir Nicic reiterated the demands from Gracanica before his Serbian and Albanian colleagues in Pristina, and announced holding of a protest rally in front of the Kosovo Assembly building if the Law on Official Use of Languages was to remain unimplemented in Kosovo’s institutions, at the same time asking his Albanian colleagues to support him in this.

"We call on the judiciary to take into more serious consideration cases involving journalists, in cases of physical assault or threats against journalists, to deal with these issues and bring judgments, and not to stall as was the case so far. To date, only in past five months, we at the APJK have received reports of 8 cases of threats, physical assaults and damages to property belonging to journalists. We have, of course, informed the authorities in charge of these cases, but at the higher levels, such as the courts, there is no efficiency in reaching concrete decisions for the protection of rights of journalists”, conveyed Majlinda Aliu from APJK, Pristina-based media reported.

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