President of Serb Entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina Orders Reporter to Leave Press Conference, Calls Her a ‘Liar’
The Vienna- based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), today called on Milorad Dodik, president of Republika Srpska, the Serbian entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to respect press freedom as an essential democratic right.
On June 2, 2012, Dodik asked Ljiljana Kovacevic, the local correspondent of the Belgrade-based Beta News Agency, to leave a press conference and to not return. Using disrespectful language to address the journalist, Dodik also called her a liar.
Friday’s incident was not the first time that authorities in Republika Srpska have targeted Kovacevic, who has been a target since 2009 when she published a report on allegedly misspent public funds. As SEEMO reported in February 2009, Rajko Vasic, secretary general of the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (Savez Nezavisnih Socijaldemokrata – SNSD), accused Beta of accepting money from foreign sources in order to publish false and tendentious reports aimed at creating public discontent.
SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said: “I call on President Dodik to respect press freedom. Without press freedom, there is no democracy. I would like to remind the political authorities in Republika Srpska, Bosnia-Herzegovina, that journalists have the right to access information of public interest and to attend public press conferences, and to provide information. Further, they have the right, as do all citizens, to be treated with respect.”