The targeting of journalists in Serbia must stop, and past incidents must be fully investigated with the perpetrators, according to a statement released by the OSCE in early March.
“I am concerned by acts of violence and threats against journalists in Serbia,” said OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Teresa Ribeiro, “No journalist should face attacks or intimidation over their work, or be compelled to leave their home country for that matter.
“Acts that threaten the personal safety and integrity of journalists represent a serious obstacle to media freedom and hamper the free flow of information and citizens’ right to access information of public interest,” Ribeiro added. “I urge the authorities to do their utmost to thoroughly investigate all the incidents and swiftly bring all perpetrators to justice, and ensure journalist’s safety, online and offline.”
According to recent reports, three journalists have recently been subjected to violence and intimidation, offline and online, while another journalist felt compelled to leave the country over safety concerns.
On March 7, Marko Dragoslavić, a journalist with FoNet news agency, was assaulted by an unknown individual shortly after covering the Students for Kosovo rally in Belgrade. Meanwhile, on the same day, Stevan Dojcinović, journalist and editor of the award-winning investigative media outlet Crime and Corruption Reporting Network (KRIK) also reportedly received online threats calling for his murder.
Previously, on March 3, Milan Nikić, a local journalist working for N1 TV in the city of Kragujevac, reported to the authorities that an unknown individual had conducted surveillance on his apartment for 40 minutes. Prior to this, an unknown person had confronted Nikić while he was covering a protest of dismissed workers of the Kragujevac waterworks and sewerage public utility company.
Moreover, journalist and writer Marko Vidojković and his wife were recently relocated to an unknown location outside of Serbia with the support of PEN International. The relocation followed a series of anonymous death threats on social media during the recent years. Vidojković, with his colleague Nenad Kulacin, regularly hosts the podcast Dobar, Loš, Zao (The Good, the Bad and the Evil).
The Head of the OSCE Mission to Serbia Jan Braathu made it clear that the recent targeting of several journalists in Serbia is well beyond the norm.
“The safety of journalists is a fundamental principle among the OSCE participating states,” he said. “Each case of attack on journalists and other media professionals should be efficiently and effectively investigated and condemned publicly by the authorities, as foreseen by the 2018 OSCE Decision on Safety of Journalists.
“The Mission will continue cooperating with the Permanent Working Group for Safety of Journalists, government institutions and media organisations in line with OSCE consensus commitments,” Braathu added.
Many journalists have been reportedly placed under surveillance or harassed during protests. Photo by СРБИН.инфо, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.