The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is appalled by a law proposal in the Republic of Macedonia/ FYROM, which not only limits the rights of media workers, but prohibits free speech as well.
Parliamentary groups of leading parties DUI and VMRO-DPMNE presented a law for adoption that states media outlets should clear their web pages of all content related to a wiretapping scandal that was revealed earlier this year by opposition leader Zoran Zaev. Materials were published throughout the year (called “bombs” by the media), causing controversy over alleged wiretapping of politicians, public figures and journalists that was secretly conducted for years by the current ruling party.
The new law demands that outlets not only remove transcripts of wiretapped conversations published on their websites, but also prohibits the future publication of any related topic. Audio recordings must not be issued or re-issued in any form, and no new unpublished tapes or transcripts may be revealed by the media. The new law calls for criminal responsibility for individuals, parties and media outlets, with penalties ranging from four to 10 years of imprisonment for owning, processing or revealing material that contains details of the published “bombs”. Publishing or transcribing parts of the wiretapped conversations of a specific individual is punishable by up to four years in prison, while if there are any economic, legal or other consequences for that individual, penalties may be up to five years of imprisonment.
SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South East and Central Europe. SEEMO’s 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.