- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- All Balkan Countries
A media watchdog recorded more than 500 press freedom violations over the past year in southeast and central Europe, an increase over 2010 figures.
The survey, which included all the Western Balkans countries as well as central European countries and Ukraine and Turkey, recorded 684 violations ranging from imprisonment to physical assaults, political pressure, and threats.
The South East Europe Media Organization, SEEMO, which conducted the study, recorded 406 violations in 2010.
“Data we collected were either directly reported to us or obtained through other associations and media or through our large network of 1000 members,” said Oliver Vujovic, secretary general of SEEMO.
Vujovic said that press freedom was the weakest in Turkey and Belarus, while in the Balkans the most troubling situation was in Bosnia and Herzegovina, followed by Kosovo and Macedonia. Serbia was ranked fourth in the region.
"Press freedom is also in danger in EU states such as Bulgaria, where we had bomb attacks on media outlets, and in Hungary, where we have a restrictive media law,“ he explained.
The source of threats and pressures varies and may come from politicians, actors, religious organisations and business groups, which are often linked to mafia-style dealings.
“The situation is improving in larger cities, but unfortunately we still have major issues in small areas. Local journalists who cover subjects related to corruption or other irregularities are faced with constant threats, especially from politicians and economic actors,” Vujovic told Balkan Insight.
In addition, economic issues further complicated journalists’ activities: obscure media ownership structures and hidden interests, problems with collective contracts or the lack of any contracts, and poor salaries were all cited as threats to media freedom.