Vienna, 15 September 2016 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed their condemnation of the recent events throughout several countries in South East Europe, which indicate a growing number of media freedom violations and censorship in journalism.
On 8 September, two TV crews in Republic of Macedonia / FYROM were threatened, intimidated and then blocked from filming material near a construction site in Skopje. Media workers from A1on and TV21 were reporting from a flooded construction site, when an unknown individual allegedly told the crews to get out, because they were “trespassing” on private property and even attempted to violently grab one of the cameras. According to reports, a police officer was located nearby during the incident, but made no effort to help the journalists.
On 14 September, journalist and editor at local broadcaster RTV Visoko in Bosnia and Herzegovina was attacked after leaving the premises of the station. Ismar Imamovic was assaulted by an unknown and masked perpetrator, after leaving the offices around midnight. Seconds after exiting the building, Imamovic was attacked and brutally beaten, after which he received medical treatment. At the time or this report there are no indications as to what the reasons behind this attack were, even though the assault happened after a TV debate related to the upcoming elections.
Another incident occurred on 14 September, when members of the Golden Dawn party in Greece attacked journalists on the island of Chios. Journalists were covering protests against a possible refugee detention center on the island, when clashes began between police members and marchers. A Golden Dawn supporter assaulted Ioannis Stevis, editor-in-chief of Astrapari.gr who was covering the events, hitting him and throwing his camera on the ground in order to break it. Several riot police members were present during this incident, but refused to arrest the attacker.
“A rising number of violent and abusive acts that endanger human rights and freedom of speech indicate that journalists still are not protected. We call on authorities in these countries to react immediately, and preserve the rights of journalists to do their work freely, without fear of attacks or threats. This is currently our utmost priority” SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic, said
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.