The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South East and Central Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), is alarmed to hear that on 9 August 2010 the mayor of the Serbian city of Zajecar, Bosko Nicic decided to prevent all directors of companies and public institutions in the city from making statements to the media without his prior consent.
Directors of companies and public institutions now feel that they must fear for their jobs if they do not comply with the directive, and journalists are limited in their reporting on current affairs.
The directive is a restriction on freedom of information and free expression. It contradicts Serbia’s Law on Public Information, which notes that no one is allowed directly or indirectly – to limit or abuse the free flow of information.
“Putting the media under pressure will only encourage censorship,” said SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic.
He added: “Journalists should be able to express themselves freely and to carry out their jobs without any interference by the local authorities. An open media environment allowing for the free flow of information is a fundamental principle of any democratic society. It is vital for journalists and media executives to be able to report freely on current affairs.”
“Serbia showed some positive media developments recently, so the limitation of the free flow of information by the mayor of Zajecar is alarming.”
Finally, SEEMO supports the Journalists’ Association of Serbia (UNS) and the Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia (NUNS) in their statements given in connection with this case.