SERBIA: Events in the city of Pozarevac in Serbia

SERBIA, 05/03/2003

Mr. Slavoljub Matic
President, Municipal Assembly of Pozarevac
Fax: + 381 12 222 521

Cc: Ms. Natasa Micic
Acting President of Serbia and
President of the Parliament of Serbia
Fax: + 381 11 682 850

Republic of Serbia
Dear Mr. President,

The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South East Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), is deeply concerned about two events that recently took place in the city of Pozarevac in Serbia: the physical attack on Mile Veljkovic, local correspondent for Beta news agency and the daily newspapers Danas and Blic, and the pressures applied on journalists at Radio Boom 93.

According to SEEMO sources, Mile Veljkovic, when attending the constituent session of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) Pozarevac Branch on 8 February 2003, was reportedly assaulted by Bojan Stamatovic of the DSS, who pulled Veljkovic by his ear, removed his glasses and mobile phone and slapped him in the face in plain view of 200 DSS members. Veljkovic said the media were prevented from attending the session by the chief DSS representative Srba Stojanovic. When Veljkovic objected, he was physically assaulted.

SEEMO also condemns the pressures applied on journalists, editors and the director of the Pozarevac-based Radio Boom 93 by Slavoljub Matic, President of the Municipal Assembly of Pozarevac and Member of the Parliament of Serbia for the DSS. According to information before SEEMO, Matic has been putting pressure on Radio Boom 93, demanding that the radio station changes its editorial policy. He has told editors and journalists at Radio Boom 93 not to broadcast statements of members and officials of certain parties and NGOs. Recently, Matic also made telephone calls to the director of Radio Boom 93 and verbally attacked him for reporting about the pressure applied on the station.

SEEMO would like to remind you that in every democratic society it is vital that journalists are allowed to work without obstruction. We therefore urge you to ensure that journalists and media outlets in Pozarevac are not harassed and that freedom of expression and press freedom are upheld. 

Sincerely,

Oliver Vujovic,

SEEMO Secretary General

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