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news 30 Apr 12

Kosovo Justice Minister Backs Media Protest

If media concerns about the new criminal code are not met, Kosovo's Justice Minister says he will resign, though journalist's association says the offer is too late.

Fatmir Aliu

Kosovo’s Minister of Justice, Hajredin Kuci, said he is ready to resign if two controversial provisions in the new law code, penalizing journalists if they don’t reveal their sources, are signed into law by the President.

Kuci, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, urged President Atifete Jahjaga not to sign the law adopted by parliament a week ago but to send it back for amendments.

“I will lobby in parliament against adoption of the two articles, and if I fail, and the articles enter into force on January, I will resign the same day,” Kuci said.

President Jahjaga pledged earlier to help solve the row between media outlets and the government over the new criminal code.

Hundreds of Kosovo journalists protested on Monday, standing for 15 minutes in silence, urging the President not to sign the draft criminal code.

The Association of Professional Journalists, AGPK, argues that two articles in the new code directly endanger the work of journalists, and hopes the President will refuse to sign it and seek further amendments, since the government and parliament ignored the conclusions of the working group on the law of which AGPK was a part.

AGPK’s chairman Arben Ahmeti said that the Justice Minister’s promise had come too late, since he had the chance to make the sought earlier.

“We continue to hope that the President will solve this issue by sending the law back to parliament, so that we the journalists continue with our work,” Ahmeti told BIRN.

A number of international media rights organizations including Reporteurs sans Frontieres and the regional South-Eastern Europe Media Organization, SEEMO, have supported AGPK and expressed worries about the criminal code.

Kosovo reporters say the law doesn’t clarify which criminal offences journalists could potentially commit, leaving it open to judges and prosecutors to interpret the code differently. Journalists have announced a boycott of state institutions, on the International Day of Press Freedom, on May 3.

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