SERBIA: SEEMO Condemns Renewed Pressure on Journalists in Serbia

SERBIA, 18/10/2011

The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Oragnisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute, condemns renewed threats and pressures against journalists in Serbia.

 On 14 October 2011, Anel Grbovic, a journalist with the local Television Novi Pazar (southwest Serbia), received death threats, apparently because he failed to cover a voluntary blood donation event. The organiser allegedly called the journalist and threatened to beat him.

 On 6 October 2011, a local politician allegedly threatened Vojkan Ristic, an editor of the Web portal Vranjepres, in Vranje (southern Serbia), because he published a story linking the political party with which the politician was affiliated to a major corruption scandal allegedly involving the mine complex Kulubara.

 On 5 October 2011, Hanibal Kovac, a reporter with the local paper Podrinske, in Sabac, south of Belgrade, was hit by an unknown individual who claimed to represent a local businessman. 

 In a separate development, the public prosecutor in Novi Sad, a town 80 kilometers north of Belgrade, filed charges against Milorad Bojovic, the editor of Nacionalni Gradjanski List, and Jelena Spasic, a journalist working for the publication, because they published an article about the Serbian army. The prosecutor claimed that the article was based on a confidential document of the Ministry of Justice and described the information as dangerous for national security.

 “I am concerned at all these press freedom violation cases,“ said Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General. “I urge the authorities to find the perpetrators of all the attacks agaisnt journalists and take appropriate legal action. In the case of legal action agaist journalists, it is not acceptable that the prosecutor presses charges against journalists who publish information of public interest. Silencing journalists is a violation of press freedom and the right of the public to know.

 “During the V South East Europe Media Forum, which will take place in Belgrade on 2 and 3 November 2011,  we will be discussing all the cases of press freedom violations. With the presence of Serbia’s prime minister, Mirko Cvetkovic, who will inaugurate the conference, it will be an occasion to analyse the overall media situation in Serbia and south east Europe.”

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