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news 24 Feb 17

Kosovo Authorities ‘Failing to Punish Journalists’ Attackers’

Representatives of journalists in Kosovo accused the authorities of failing to arrest and prosecute perpetrators of attacks on reporters, even when the victims were killed.

Die Morina
Photo: BIRN.

The head of the Association of Journalists of Kosovo, Shkelqim Hysenaj, warned on Thursday that the authorities were not dealing with cases of violence against reporters properly.

“In 17 years, 11 journalists were killed and the Kosovo Special Prosecution, [the UN mission in Kosovo] UNMIK and [the EU rule-of-law mission] EULEX could not find any witness or evidence. What kind of justice are we talking about?” Hysenaj told the BIRN Kosovo's TV show ‘Jeta ne Kosove’.

Hysenaj accused Kosovo’s Chief Prosecutor of Kosovo Aleksander Lumezi of avoiding conferences at which he is invited to debate with journalists. Lumezi was also invited to appear on the ‘Jeta ne Kosove’ show, but declined.

“The prosecutor is right to hesitate to face journalists when we have 11 murders of journalists and none of them have been investigated,” said Hysenaj.

Milot Hasimja, an editor with the Pristina-based Klan Kosovo television station, who was stabbed in the neck and head several times while at work in 2014, said that he was concerned that the person who attacked him remains free despite having been convicted and sentenced to prison.

“The prosecution has not interviewed any of my colleagues, who were only 50 centimetres away, as witnesses. He [the attacker] was found guilty [and sentenced to] three years and six months in prison but I understood from his father that the person is at home," said Hasimja.

The director of the operations department at Kosovo police, Celaj Rashit, insisted however that police treat seriously and prioritise cases of threats against journalists.

“I believe that we always treat with priority the majority of cases occurring against the community of journalists and journalists as individuals who reported [crimes] to the Kosovo police, always taking into account the importance of the work of journalists," said Calaj.

According to the police, since 1999 there have been 154 cases of attacks on journalists, and 17 of these cases are still being investigated.

Calaj said that in 2016, many of the reported cases were cyber attacks and online threats.

According to Calaj, there were more cases of cyber attacks and online threats in 2016 than in previous years.

Arbana Xharra, the editor in chief of Pristina-based newspaper Zeri, said she was threatened on social media.

“Someone sent me a picture of my son that was spread all over Facebook, saying ‘see this little “Satan”, the son of Arbana’,” Xharra told BIRN.

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