SEEMO Mission Serbia

Following concerns about the state of media freedom in Serbia expressed by both Serbian journalists and media organisations as well as international organisations and institutions, an international joint fact-finding mission comprised of representatives from the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the International Press Institute (IPI) and the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) visited Serbia from 18th-19th January 2018.

“It was encouraging to follow the big interest in Serbia on our fact finding mission. Without any doubt our mission shows that there are a huge need of creating an environment where all journalist by decent working conditions can do their job freely without threats or fear” Mogens Blicher Bjerregård

The joint mission met and interviewed a large number of stakeholders, including journalists and editors from a wide spectrum of print, broadcast and electronic media outlets; academics and civil society actors; and Serbian government officials, most notably President Aleksandar Vučić.

The mission, which attracted significant media and official interest, revealed a number of substantial challenges for the promotion of a free, independent and pluralist media environment in Serbia.

Pending a more comprehensive mission report, mission representatives submit the following initial recommendations:

1. Safety
All authorities should take cases of violence and harassment reported by journalists seriously by providing immediate reactions underscoring the need for a quick resolution of the case based on an efficient, impartial investigation. The Serbian government must undertake efforts to resolve past cases of violence against journalists, which is important not only for the journalists targeted in those cases and their families, but also for the fight against impunity. In general, we strongly recommend that officials at all levels of government in Serbia send a clear signal – without any conditions – condemning all attacks on journalists.

2. State engagement with media
Numerous journalists and editors interviewed by the mission expressed concern over what they described as an increasingly difficult environment for critical journalism, driven in part by hostile official reactions to criticism and investigative journalism in particular. Serbian government officials at all levels must refrain from actions, including verbal harassment, that have the effect of delegitimising critical journalists and their work. Officials must send clear signals that journalists have a right to investigate the activities of those in power.

Serbian officials at all levels must also demonstrate respect for media pluralism and media independence. Officials should adopt a non-discriminatory approach to media interaction, engaging with all media outlets on a fair basis. Public funding schemes for media – especially at the local level – must be carried out in a transparent and independent manner and in line with established criteria.

3. Media strategy
We urge the Ministry of Culture to ensure that the public consultation of a new media strategy takes place in a transparent and visible way both offline and online as well as across the country. There must be sufficient time for ensuring debate on the proposal and there must be a proper call for interventions and amendments as well as serious considerations of any such interventions and amendments. The views of those who left the working group must be acknowledged.

4. Social dialogue
In the view of the EFJ, decent working conditions through collective agreements are a prerequisite for journalists to do their job. In this vein, the EFJ urges an improvement in the field of social dialogue, or its introduction where it is missing. The EFJ states that there is a great need for the building of an infrastructure with functioning organisations and institutions, which should be supported by capacity building programmes.

5. Access to information
State bodies must respect journalists’ right to access public information and must respond to such requests in a timely manner. Extensive waiting times for documents have a serious negative impact on journalistic work in practice.

6. Ombudsman
We recommend classifying journalism and media as a special issue for the institution of the national ombudsman – an independent government body tasked with promoting and protecting citizens’ rights – so as better to allow her or him to deal with complaints and issues regarding journalism and media.

7. Definition of a journalist
So as not to limit press freedom and so as to uphold the protecting of sources, the joint mission warns both media stakeholders and the authorities against the introduction of a special definition on who is a journalist by narrowing the present understanding.

8. Working group on safety
The international mission views the formation of the working group on journalist safety as an important signal of Serbia’s intention to seriously tackle the problem of safety. In this light, we urge the group’s members – representatives of the media, police and the public prosecutor’s office – to enter into a dialogue intended to revitalise this important effort, if needed with support of an independent moderator. Mutual understanding is critical to achieving concrete progress.

9. Press council
We encourage all media outlets and journalists to join Serbia’s Journalism Ethics Code and to respect the self-regulatory body, the Press Council including the Council’s Complaints Commission, and to publish the Council’s decisions in accordance with its regulations. We view the Press Council as a critical instrument to raising ethical and professional standards of journalism in Serbia. National and international institutions should offer their full support to this body.

We urge all media, media associations and journalists in Serbia to respect at all times the professional and ethical standards in their work and daily communication.

It is our view that fulfilling these recommendations, which are joint unless indicated otherwise, will contribute to a better environment for journalism in Serbia, one in which journalists can do their jobs – including investigations into the activities of those in power – without harassment, attack, threats or smear campaigns.

We also emphasize that when free and independent journalism thrives, democracy thrives.

Co-signatories:

Scott Griffen (IPI)
Mogens Blicher Bjerregård (EFJ)
Oliver Vujovic (SEEMO)

PRITISCI I NAPADI (translation by UNS)

Misija za utvrđivanje činjenica u Srbiji o medijskoj slobodi i bezbednosti novinara

PRITISCI I NAPADI

Misija za utvrđivanje činjenica u Srbiji o medijskoj slobodi i bezbednosti novinara

Nakon zabrinutosti o stanju medijskih sloboda u Srbiji koje su iskazale i sprske novinarske i medijske organizacije kao i međunarodne organizacije i institucije, Srbiju je 18. i 19. januara 2018. posetila zajednička međunarodna misija za utvrđivanje činjenica, sastavljena od predstavnika Evropske federacije novinara (EFJ), Međunarodnog instituta za štampu (IPI) i Medijske organizacije za jugoistočnu Evropu (SEEMO).

Zajednička misija se sastala i razgovarala s velikim brojem zainteresovanih strana, uključujući novinare i urednike iz širokog spektra štampanih, radiodifuznih i elektronskih medija, akademicima i akterima civilnog društva, i zvaničnicima srpske vlade, pre svega Predsednikom Aleksandrom Vučićem.

Misija, koja je privukla značajnu pažnju medija i zvaničnika, otkrila je niz suštinskih izazova za promovisanje slobodnog, nezavisnog i pluralističkog medijskog okruženja u Srbiji.

U očekivanju sveobuhvatnijeg izveštaja misije, predstavnici misije daju sledeće početne preporuke:

1. Bezbednost
Svi organi treba ozbiljno da uzmu slučajeve nasilja i uznemiravanja, prijavljenih od strane novinara, i odmah reaguju naglašavajući potrebu za brzim rešavanjem ovakvih slučajeva na osnovu efikasne i nezavisne istrage. Vlada Srbije mora da preduzme napore za rešavanje ranijih slučajeva nasilja nad novinarima, što je važno ne samo za novinare, koji su bili meta u tim slučajevima, i njihove porodice nego i za borbu protiv nekažnjivosti. U principu, snažno preporučujemo zvaničnicima na svim nivoima vlade Srbije da pošalju jasan signal – bez ikakvih uslova – kojim osuđuju sve napade na novinare.

2. Državni angažman sa medijima
Brojni novinari i urednici, s kojima je misija razgovarala, izrazili su zabrinutost za ono što su opisali kao sve teže okruženje za kritičko novinarstvo, koje delom podstiču posebno neprijateljske zvanične reakcije na kritičko i istraživačko novinarstvo. Zvaničnici srpske vlade na svim nivoima moraju da se uzdrže od akcija, uključujući i verbalno uznemiravanje, koje imaju efekat delegitimacije kritičkih novinara i njihovog rada. Zvaničnici moraju da pošalju jasne signale da novinari imaju pravo da istražuju aktivnosti onih koji su na vlasti.

Srpski zvaničnici na svim nivoima moraju da pokažu poštovanje za medijski pluralizam i medijsku nezavisnost. Zvaničnici treba da usvoje nediskriminatorni pristup interakciji s medijima, angažujući se sa svim medijima na jednakim osnovama. Programi za javno finansiranje medija – posebno na lokalnom nivou – moraju da se obavljaju transparentno i nezavisno i u skladu sa utvrđenim kriterijumima.

3. Medijska strategija
Pozivamo Ministarstvo kulture da osigura da se javna rasprava o novoj Medijskoj strategiji odvija na transparentan i vidljiv način i van mreže i na njoj, kao i širom zemlje. Mora se ostaviti dovoljno vremena kako bi se obezbedila rasprava o predlogu i mora postojati odgovarajući poziv za intervencije i amandmane, kao i za ozbiljno razmatranje takvih intervencija i amandmana. Stavovi onih koji su napustili Radnu grupu moraju da se priznaju.

4. Društveni dijalog
Po mišljenju EFJ, pristojni uslovi rada, ostvareni kroz kolektivne ugovore, preduslov su obavljanja novinarskog rada. U tom smislu, EFJ poziva na poboljšanja u oblasti društvenog dijaloga ili na njegovo uvođenje tamo gde on nedostaje. EFJ navodi da postoji ogromna potreba za izgradnju infrastrukture sa fulkcionalnim organizacijama i institucijama, koju treba da podržava program izgradnje kapaciteta.

5. Pristup informacijama
Državni organi moraju da poštuju pravo novianara na pristup javnim informacijama i moraju blagovremeno da reaguju na takve zahteve. Dugo čekanje na dokumente ima ozbiljan negativan uticaj na novinarski rad u praksi.

6. Ombudsman
Preporučujemo klasifikovanje novinarstva i medija kao posebnog pitanja za insitituciju nacionalnog Ombusmana – nezavisnog državnog tela čiji je zadatak promovisanje i zaštita prava građana – kako bi mu se omogućilo da se uspešnije bavi žalbama i problemima u vezi s novinarstvom i medijima.

7. Definicija novinara
Kako se ne bi ograničavala sloboda štampe i kako bi se podržala zaštita izvora, zajednička misija upozorava i medijske zainteresovane strane i vlasti protiv uvođenja posebne definicije ko je novinar sužavanjem sadašnjeg razumevanja.

8. Radna grupa o bezbednosti
Međunarodna misija smatra da je formiranje radne grupe o bezbednosti novinara važan signal namera Srbije da se ozbiljno bavi problemom bezbednosti. U svetlu ovog, pozivamo članove grupe – predstavnike medija, policije i javnog tužilaštva – da započnu dijalog s ciljem revitalizacije ovog važnog napora, ako je potrebno uz podršku nezavisnog moderatora. Uzajamno razumevanje je od ključnog značaja za ostvarivanje konkretnog napretka.

9. Savet za štampu
Pozivamo sve medije i novinare da se pridruže Etičkom kodeksu novinarstva Srbije i da poštuju samoregulatorno telo Savet za štampu, uključujući i Žalbenu komisiju Saveta i da objavljuju odluke Saveta u skladu sa svojim propisima. Smatramo da je Savet za štampu instrument od ključne važnosti za uzdizanje etičkih i profesionalnih standrada novinasrtva u Srbiji. Nacionalne i međunarodne institucije treba da pruže punu podršku ovom telu.

Apelujemo na sve medije, medijska udruženja i novinare u Srbiji da poštuju u svakom trenutku profesionalne i etičke standarde u svom radu i svakodnevnoj komunikaciji.

Naš je stav da će ispunjavanje ovih preporuka, koje su zajedničke ukoliko nije drugačije naznačeno, doprineti boljem okruženju za novinarstvo u Srbiji, u kojem novinari mogu da obavljaju svoj posao – uključujući i istrage o aktivnostima onih koji su na vlasti – bez uznemiravanja, napada, pretnji i kampanja ocrnjivanja.

Naglašavamo, takođe, da demokratija cveta onda kada i slobodno i nezavsino novinarstvo napreduje.

Skot Grifen IPI
Mogens Bliher Bjeregord EFJ
Oliver Vujović SEEMO

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