Home Page
News 26 Jul 13

OSCE Slates Macedonian Journalist's Extra Detention

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatovic, on Thursday condemned the contined detention of the Macedonian journalist, Tomislav Kezarovski.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

Dunja Mijatovic [left] | Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic

In a press release, Mijatovic said it was “unacceptable” for a journalist t0 be detained for his or her reporting, urging the Macedonian authorities to release Kezarovski at once.

“I already intervened in this case twice over the last month. Today I am particularly alarmed that the court extended his detention by another 30 days,” Mijatovic said.

The Skopje Criminal Court on Wednesday extended the pre-trial  detention of the journalist for another 30 days, saying it feared he might flee.

This was the second extension to his detention. Kezarovski already spent two months behind bars since his arrest in May 28.

He was detained in relation to an article he wrote back in 2008 for Reporter 92 magazine in which he allegedly revealed the identity of a witness in a murder case. The witness later admitted to the court that he gave false testimony, saying the police forced him to do so.

On Monday, Kezarovski started a hunger strike in protest at his detention. He is reportedly in a poor mental and physical condition.  

Civil society groups and many colleagues of Kezarovski have voiced increasing concern about his health.

On Thursday, Macedonia’s main journalist’s associations staged a protest in front of the court in Skopje, while several human rights groups protested in front of the Shutka detention prison, where Kezarovski is being held.

Court Accuses Journalists  
In a press release following the protests the court accused the journalists of undermining the court’s independence.

“We react most strongly to the established media practice of applying pressure against the court by individuals and groups who misuse the media space and express their discontent with what was the expected course of [the court’s] procedure through so-called forms of freedom of expression,” the court wrote.

“These ‘initiative boards’ and interest groups put themselves above the law and the constitution”, the court wrote adding that “Macedonia has a longstanding [practice of] democracy and institutions, particularly judicial authority, that guarantees human rights and freedoms”.
 

Mijatovic called on the authorities to heed the chorus of calls for his release and appealed to Kezarovski to end his hunger strike.

“Once again, I emphasise the importance of journalists being allowed to carry out investigative reporting on issues of public interest, free from the threat of imprisonment and without being forced to reveal their sources," she said.

"I  urge the authorities in Skopje to consider this matter as urgent and serious. Kezarovski’s continued detention already had a severe impact on media freedom in the country,” Mijatovic added.

The Association of European Journalists and the international media watchdog Reporters Without Borders have both condemned the arrest, calling for Kezarovski's release.

The Network for Reporting on Eastern Europe, N-OST, the network for supporting investigative journalism, SCOOP, and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN, have also launched a joint campaign for his release.

blog comments powered by Disqus