CROATIA: Verbal threats directed against editors and journalists working at Hrvatske rijeci - Serbia

CROATIA, 15/01/2004

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 the verbal threats directed against editors and journalists working at Hrvatska riječ, a magazine for the Croatian minority, which is published in Subotica, Serbia.

On 13 January 2004, Hrvatske rijeci received three threatening telephone calls. According to SEEMO's sources, the threats were clearly anti-Croatian in content. In the first call, the voice said that if the magazine continued to publish, he would kill the staff. In the second call, the same voice said, "You are all dead." In the third call, he used swearwords. On 14 January, the magazine received two further anonymous threatening phone calls.

As SEEMO has been informed, these threats against Hrvatske rijeci are part of a campaign of intimidation carried out against the Croatian minority in Vojvodina, Serbia, over the past two weeks. Until now, no one has been arrested by police. SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic expressed alarm "that all of these cases happened in a multi-ethnic region, such as Vojvodina, and after the December elections in Serbia."

SEEMO calls upon the authorities in Serbia, as well as the local authorities in Vojvodina, to carry out an immediate and thorough investigation and to bring to justice those responsible. We further urge the authorities to do everything possible to ensure that journalists and other media workers in Serbia are able to safely carry out their profession.

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