Representatives of parliaments and journalist associations from the four countries of the Western Balkans, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, and North Macedonia, today, at a meeting in the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina, established that it is necessary to improve media legislation in the countries of the region.
“In Bosnia and Herzegovina, an initiative was adopted where the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina was requested to initiate the procedure for amending the Criminal Code regarding the sanctioning of attacks on journalists. We currently expect that the Council of Ministers will send the said law to the parliamentary procedure”, said Lazar Prodanović, Chairman of the Joint Commission for Human Rights, which organized the meeting with the Association of BiH Journalists.
The president of the Association of BiH Journalists, Marko Divković, emphasized that journalists in BiH work under great political, economic and security pressure.
“Security pressures are most often based on hatred as the lowest form of human feeling. What makes me happy is the support of some parliamentarians who finally support the idea of passing a law in Bosnia and Herzegovina that will treat attacks on journalists as a criminal offense”, said Divković.
The president of the Association of Independent Journalists of Serbia, Željko Bodrožić, reminded that today’s meeting is a continuation of the dialogue started last year by parliamentarians and representatives of journalist associations in Skopje, where the Declaration on the Promotion of Dialogue between Parliaments and Journalists’ Associations in the Western Balkans was signed.
With this, parliamentarians and journalists undertook to work together on improving media legislation in order to contribute to media freedom and the safety of journalists in accordance with EU integration processes.
“This should lead to greater freedom of expression in our countries. At this moment, the primary priority is greater safety of journalists in all countries of the Western Balkans. Unfortunately, in many cases, the generators of hatred towards journalists are politicians. In Serbia, we highlight this as a big problem, because after that, the public takes these things for granted, and we see an increase in the number of attacks and pressures on journalists who are doing their job professionally”, said Bodrožić.
The President of the Media Union of Montenegro, Radomir Kračković, stated that one result has already been achieved in Montenegro, namely that the Criminal Code has been changed, increasing the penalties for attacks on journalists.
“Attacks on journalists are a problem in all countries of the region. In the Media Union of Montenegro, we will fight through the amendment of media laws to improve the position of journalists and media workers”, Kračković said.
The representative of the Association of Macedonian Journalists, Milan Spirovski, concluded that BiH, Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia have shown a proactive approach to changing the media regulation, one year after the signing of the Declaration in Skopje.
“I am glad that in this way we are meeting at a regional level and offering constructive solutions in order to improve the entire process of implementing legislation”, said Spirovski.
MP and member of the Committee for Culture and Information of the National Assembly of Serbia Tatjana Manojlović pointed out that there is no free society without free media.
“Awareness of the importance of the sphere of information and media brought us to this meeting. Knowing all that, we are all aware of the importance of the media, and that’s why many rightfully consider it another important pillar of government. Unfortunately, the importance of the media is often misused, and we discussed that at today’s meeting”, said Manojlović.
Aleksandra Micoska Mitevska, head of the Public Relations Department in the Assembly of North Macedonia, states that today’s meeting in Sarajevo contributes to improving the level of transparency towards journalists and citizens.
“I believe that significant progress has been made in the direction of transparency between the media, citizens, and the assembly, that is, between the protection of journalists and media workers”, Micoska Mitevska added.