July 3, 2024

03.07.2024 – Journalist Lepa Dzhundeva Faces Online Harassment and Threats For Weeks

North Macedonian authorities must promptly and thoroughly investigate the online harassment and violent threats directed at journalist Lepa Dzhundeva (Лепа Џундева) and ensure her safety.

Dzhundeva, a reporter for the TV channel TV 24 (https://24.mk/), has faced a barrage of social media threats in the past weeks. These messages contain hate speech, nationalistic slurs, sexist and misogynistic comments, and threats of violence. The harassment began on 3 June 2024 after a columnist for one website in North Macedonia, posted on his Facebook page a clip of Dzhundeva’s interview with a Greek Member of Parliament (MP). The clip, in which Dzhundeva refers to the country as North Macedonia, led to a flood of hostile comments. The threats are connected to the fact that Dzhundeva was using the country’s internationally recognized name, North Macedonia.

The Association of Journalists of Macedonia (Здружение на новинари на Македонија AJM / ЗНМ – https://znm.org.mk/) and the Independent Union of Journalists and Media Workers (SSNM – Самостоен синдикат на новинари и медиумски работници) asked on 12 June 2024 the local columnist to publicly apologize. The Association of Journalists of Macedonia submitted on behalf of Dzhundeva on 5 June 2024 an official request for criminal proceedings to the Department for Computer Crime and Digital Forensics at the Central Police Services, Ministry of Internal Affairs (Секторот за компјутерски криминал и дигитална форензика при Централни Полициски Служби Министерството за внатрешни работи).

This case underscores the urgent need for authorities to protect journalists and uphold the principles of free expression and safety in North Macedonia.

The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) condemns the online harassment and violent threats directed at journalist Lepa Dzhundeva. Such attacks are an unacceptable infringement on press freedom and an affront to democratic values. SEEMO calls on North Macedonian authorities to conduct a swift and thorough investigation, ensuring that those responsible are brought to justice. SEEMO will be closely monitoring this situation to ensure the safety and rights of journalists are upheld.

The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is a regional non-governmental, non profit network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in Southeast, South, East and Central Europe. SEEMO members are in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova (with the territory of Transdnestria), Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Türkiye / Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Austria, Italy, Vatican and San Marino have a special status in SEEMO. SEEMO has over 3000 individual members, and additional media as corporate members.

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