The Western Balkan’s Regional Platform for Advocating Media Freedom and Journalists’ Safety, which represents more than 8,000 members, asks that the Montenegrin police and prosecutors to stop arresting journalists in that country on the pretext of spreading panic by publishing fake news. At the same time, it condemns physical assault and the behavior towards arbresh.info team in Kosovo from the person who accompanied Simić, as journalist stated his personnel.
During the last weekend, journalists Drazen Zivkovic and Gojko Raicevic were detained because they published the explosion at the official state-owned residential villa Gorica in Podgorica. Police later denied this, stating that there was no explosion, but some failure in the wiring. Montenegrin police and the prosecution claim that Raicevic and Zivkovic, who were released after the hearing, caused panic and disorder with that article. The portals on which they are editors (In4S and Borba) immediately conveyed the police denial of the controversial news.
“After a journalist Andjela Djikanovic was arrested several days ago with the same charges, the police and the prosecution did the same, inadmissible, thing. We strongly condemn this attitude towards journalists and we call the police and the prosecution to stop this practice. Montenegro is not doing enough when it comes to media freedom and the safety of journalists, and this is just a big step backwards”, said Marijana Camovic, President of Trade Union of Media of Montenegro.
At the same time, Arbresh.info team from Pristina was physically attacked during their reporting of the visit of Kosovo Assembly Vice-Chair also Vice President of the Serbian List, Slavko Simic, to the village of Prilluzha Municipality of Vushtrri.
According to reports by arbresh.info, Simic visited a secondary school and later the so-called parallel municipality of Prilluzha. The arbresh.info team were denied entry in the meetings, while Serbian-speaking media were allowed to be present.
According to the statement of the journalist Elmedina Ballazhi, she was attacked by Simic’s personnel, striking her with the elbow in the chest and closing the door for her and the cameraman. After two meetings, Simic again refused to be interviewed by journalist Ballazhi, and denied through a written response for arbresh.info that the person who striked the journalist is part of his personnel.
“The attacks must stop. Moreover, state officials should assist all journalists in fair and impartial reporting.” said Gentiana Begolli Pustina – President of the Association of Journalists of Kosovo.
The Western Balkan’s Regional Platform for Advocating Media Freedom and Journalists’ Safety supports colleagues from the Trade Union of Media of Montenegro and the Association of Journalists of Kosovo in its efforts to cope with unprecedented pressure on the profession which is coming from state bodies or public officials and they join to the requests to stop arresting journalists.
We remind that every attack on a journalist is an attack on the public interest, democracy and human rights. The Platform will inform all European institutions of these incidents and request their intervention in the area of safety of journalists in the Western Balkans region.
Skopje – Belgrade – Podgorica – Prishtina – Sarajevo – Zagreb, 14.01.2020.
BH Journalists Association
Trade Union of Media of Montenegro
Croatian Journalists’ Association
Association of Journalists of Kosovo
Association of Journalists of Macedonia
Independent Journalists Association of Serbia