World Press Freedom Day: Anti-campaigns, threats, attacks, impunity

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Foto: Radio Kontakt plus

According to the report on the status of media freedom in Serbia by Reporters Without Borders, the country has turned into a place where dealing with journalism is neither safe nor supported by the state, as attacks on the integrity and physical security of journalists became increasingly frequent – especially those coming from government officials. Defamation and anti-campaigns lead by pro-government media against investigative journalists are also common. Additionally, the Kosovo Serb media welcome the World Press Freedom Day with accusations by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic of “receiving millions to destroy the reputation of Srpska Lista and criminalize the north of Kosovo.”

After dropping 10 places on the World Press Freedom Index in 2018, Serbia has dropped 14 places this year and now ranks 90th on the list of 180 countries – Reporters Without Borders stated. European countries which have a lower ranking than Serbia include Moldova, Northern Macedonia, Montenegro, Ukraine and Bulgaria.

Kosovo takes 75th place on the list

The RSF’s report on Kosovo reads that journalists who criticize the nationalist policies of Kosovo President Hashim Thaci are labeled as „Serbian sympathizers“ or „traitors.“ On the other hand, Serbian media in Kosovo are victims of verbal and cyber attacks, while pro-government media are conducting campaigns against them. Kosovo occupies 75th place on the World Press Freedom Index.

Association of Journalists of Serbia in Kosovo warns of impunity

The Association of Journalists of Serbia in Kosovo and Metohija will mark this day by gathering in front of the art installation ‘MISSING’ in Gracanica in an effort to draw attention to the unsolved murders and abductions, attacks and pressures on journalists and the media. This association recalled that, in addition to the names of abducted and missing persons, the names of journalists and media workers who were killed since September 21st, 1998 are inscribed on this art installation.

„Attacks and pressure on journalists in Kosovo and Metohija continued over the past year. The police did not investigate the shutdown of the site of the Slobodanski Srpski portal, as well as threats to the UNS president in Kosovo, Budimir Nicic. Threats and pressure on the KoSSev portal from Kosovska Mitrovica and RTV KIM from Caglavica also continue. The plaque dedicated to abducted journalists Djura Slavuj and Ranko Perenic was torn down for the seventh time,“ the Association of Journalists of Serbia in Kosovo and Metohija listed some of the negative events that marked the past year.

Accusations: Destroyers of Srpska Lista’s reputation and unity of the Serbian people

The Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic accused the Serbian media in Kosovo of being paid millions of dollars from the outside in order to „destroy the unity of the Serb people in the north of Kosovo and Metohija and other parts of Kosovo and Metohija“ on three different occasions within the past week. According to the Serbian President, in addition to destroying the unity, the Serbian media in Kosovo are also destroying the reputation of Srpska Lista, as well as Srpska Lista itself.

Following an intense reaction of certain Kosovo Serb journalists, journalist associations, and the National Convention on the European Union, President Vucic „apologized“ for his statements a few days later, claiming that he criticized foreigners „who want the destruction of the north“ and that he did not „mention any media by name.“

Vucic, however, did not deny that there are certain media that have those intentions, adding that the reason he apologized was to prevent security incidents directed against „such media.“

„I accept that I am guilty of this, and I will tell you why: Because someone can understand that he is therefore allowed to attack someone who works in such media,“ the President said after several journalists from Kosovo warned that his statements, which drew a target on Serb journalists, may be interpreted as a call for violence by those who share his political views or even abused by his political opponents.

The President drew a target on all Serbian journalists from Kosovo and Metohija, the President of the Kosovo branch of the Association of Journalists of Serbia, Budimir Nicic warned.

„What political struggle?! There are no drawing targets on anyone, it is a dangerous business and what will we do if, God forbid it, a Serbian media owner or a journalist from the north of Kosovo, or from Gracanica is killed?! Will the president say that it was a political struggle?! What political struggle with the media?!“ said Nicic.

Read what the editor of the KoSSev portal had to say about the accusations of the Serbian President in special news: A postcard from Beijing: President’s Kosovo Safari.

Read more:

Djuric: Instrumentalized heralds support the independence of Kosovo

NUNS: President of Serbia to apologize to journalists from the north of Kosovo

NCEU concerned over Vucic’s accusations against Kosovo Serb media: The attack on journalists has damaged Serbia’s reputation in the world

Vucic: „The espionage media networks in Kosovo are the main providers of information in central Serbia and they are breaking the Serbian unity“

Vucic: Foreigners created a large number of media in the north of Kosovo just to destroy Srpska Lista

Serbian President on Kosovo Serb media again – What did he really say?

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