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News 20 Oct 17

Bosnia's Rights Ministry Spotlights Challenges Facing Media

A report from Bosnia’s Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees on freedom of speech, which the government has adopted, notes threats, defamation lawsuits and self-censorship as some of the key problems in the media.

Mladen Lakic
East Sarajevo
Photo illustration. Photo: Pixabay

A report on freedom of speech and the state of media, which Bosnia’s government, the Council of Ministers, adopted on Thursday, and which BIRN has obtained, highlights the problems facing the media in the country.

According to data from the Association of Bosnia and Herzegovina Journalists, 60 cases of violations of media freedom and the rights of journalist were reported during 2016.

The report reveals that court cases dealing with threats and attacks on journalists often last between two and two-and-a-half years, while some cases – such as the case of 45 journalists killed during the 1992-5 war in Bosnia – have never been prosecuted.

The fear of being accused of defamation and self-censorship is influencing media freedom, the report said; around 300 lawsuits for defamation are filed against journalists annually.

The report also noted that journalists are often denied the right to access public information, especially when it comes to information concerning public officials, while the lack of transparency of the work of public institutions is an emerging issue.

The report says the fact that Bosnia lacks a journalists union operating on a state level hinders the media's efficient fight for its rights.

The report also highlights the lack of laws on online media, as well as the lack of regulation of hate speech in the media.

The UN Human Rights Committee in March 2017 expressed concern about harassment and intimadion of journalists as well as political influence over the media which – as stated - leads to lack of quality reporting.

Bosnia was ranked in 65th place in the list of 180 countries by the watchdog organisation Reporters without Borders in its last World Press Freedom Index.

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