The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) called on institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to immediately react to the harassment of journalist Lejla Colak.
On 26 August, Colak wrote a Facebook post expressing her personal opinion about women wearing burkas, hijabs and similar religious garments. After her statement was interpreted as offensive by a member of the BiH Armed Forces, he wrote a caption asking if ‘anyone would volunteer’ to assault the journalist, adding that he would ‘compensate’ any person for that action himself. Several other comments followed, with individuals suggesting that Colak should be ‘burned alive’ and run over by a car.
After the case became public, the member of the BIH Armed Forces deleted his Facebook post and apologized. According to sources, he will be dismissed from his position after an investigation establishes whether the threats were factual.
“SEEMO is disturbed by the harassment of journalist Lejla Colak by a member of the armed forces for freely expressing her opinion,’ said SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic. ‘We sincerely hope that this matter will be investigated and the responsible individual held accountable under the law’.
SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.