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news 22 Dec 15

More Journalists Being Attacked in Serbia, Report

A report by the Independent Association of Journalists of Serbia, NUNS, on Tuesday says more attacks on journalists in Serbia were reported in 2015 - and too many cases go unsolved.

Filip Avramovic
BIRN
Belgrade
Vukasin Obradovic, Kruna Savovic, Svetozar Rakovic, Miroslav Jankovic | Photo: Filip Avramovic/BIRN

The report by NUNS, issued on Tuesday, says that a total of 34 attacks on journalists were reported in 2015, which is far more than in 2014, when around 20 attacks were reported.

Miroslav Jankovic, legal advisor to the OSCE mission in Serbia, says institutions in Serbia are “still not ready to tackle this problem.

“In the past 20 years, three journalists have been killed. We still don’t know who did that, and it shows that our institutions are not ready to face the past and solve the murders of journalists,” Jankovic told a press conference where the NUNS report was presented.

Jankovic said journalists do not trust the police and other institutions that should be fighting the problem of violence against journalists.

“Journalists come to OSCE to seek help. They rarely file criminal charges, which means that journalists don’t trust the institutions that should protect them,” Jankovic added.

Svetozar Rakovic, general secretary of NUNS, said one of the biggest concerns facing journalists was “the arbitrariness of those in power, withholding information of public importance, as well as humiliation.

“We get an impression that freedom of speech is in danger, to say the least. We are losing critical content in the media and instead of that, we 'enjoy' reality programs,” he told the press conference.

“Breaking the code [on journalism] is becoming more frequent. Some of the media violate human rights and start witch hunts against people,” Rakovic said.

As an example of the way the media violate human rights, Kruna Savovic,  an attorney, mentioned the way the editor of the tabloid Informer had showed a man's medical records on television.

“They wave around the private medical records of people live on television and nobody asks how those documents got into the media,” Savovic complained.

Vukasin Obradovic, director of NUNS, said that an “electric atmosphere” was being created in Serbia.

“A Pandora’s box is being opened in Serbia and an atmosphere is being created where journalists are being divided into patriots and foreign mercenaries. In that kind of atmosphere people lose lives,” Obradovic said. “We need better mechanisms for protecting journalists,” Obradovic added.

One of the attacks reported in 2015 was in April when the Novi Pazar journalist Senad Zupljanin was beaten up at his workplace at the department of information of the city administration. Zupljanin reported the attack to the police, but nothing happened.

Another attack happened in July when journalist Milan Djokic was stabbed at a press conference in Uzice. The culprit was apprehended, however. Djokic is still recovering.  

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