SERBIA: Press freedom violations in Yugoslavia and Serbia

SERBIA, 24/07/2001

Vojislav Kostunica 

President

Belgrade 

Federal Republic of Yugoslavia   

Your Excellency,  

The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), is writing to express its concern over a number of press freedom violations in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Serbia.

On 12 July, Predrag Radojevic, a regional correspondent of the Belgrade daily Blic, was invited by the police in the town of Valjevo to engage in an "informative talk" about his work as a journalist. Prior to his meeting with the police, Radojevic had written a number of articles on local political affairs.

On 17 July, Dusanka Novkovic,  a regional correspondent of the Belgrade daily Blic, was also invited by the police to discuss her work as a journalist. In previous articles, Novkovic had reported on the financial problems of a local company.

SEEMO urges Your Excellency to guarantee that the actions of the police force will not be repeated and to ensure that all journalists working in FR Yugoslavia have the right to practise their profession without fear of harassment or intimidation.

SEEMO is also concerned for the security of Milica Ivanovic, a reporter for the Belgrade news agency Beta and a contributor to the Belgrade daily Blic in the town of Leskovac. On 19 July,  Ivanovic received a death threat in response to articles she had written concerning the expulsion  by local authorities of an Albanian craftsman from his shop in Leskovac.

In the same period, SEEMO has been informed that several threats were made against Petar Milinov, correspondent for the Greek Ionian TV in Belgrade. Such threats are deeply worrying as they appear to originate from a neighbour of Milinov´s, who is working for the police force. Since the threats started in August 2000, Milinov has made five complaints to the local police in Belgrade.

SEEMO has also received information, from its partners in the region and the SEEMO HELP LINE for South East Europe, that there are a number of other cases involving threats made to journalists in FR Yugoslavia.

SEEMO urges the Belgrade authorities to do everything possible to ensure the safety of journalists in the FR Yugoslavia and Serbia.

SEEMO further urges the Yugoslav and Serbian authorities to bring to justice the killers of Serbian journalist Milan Pantic, shot dead on 11 June in the town of Jagodina. In addition, the Belgrade authorities must carry out full and proper investigations into the murder of Slavko Curuvija, director and owner of daily Dnevni telegraf and the magazine Evropljanin, shot dead in April 1999, and the unexplained death of journalist Dada Vujasinovic in 1994, a freelancer and contributor to the Belgrade magazine Duga.

SEEMO would remind Your Excellency that journalists play an essential role in any democratic society and that the murderers of journalists should not be allowed to escape with impunity.

We thank you for your attention.  

Yours sincerely,  

Oliver Vujovic

Secretary General  

South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)

International Press Institute (IPI)

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