SafeJournalists Network and Partner Organisations sent the letters to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ombudsperson Institution and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We express concern about the case of journalist Svetlana Vukmirovic working for the public broadcaster Radio Television of Serbia (RTS), who has not been allowed to enter Kosovo and do her work.
Vukmirovic wasn’t allowed to enter the territory of Kosovo on multiple occasions since 2018. The latest case occurred on 1 May 2023 when Vukmirovic was again banned from entering the territory of Kosovo with the explanation that she is considered a threat to public order, internal security, public health or international relations. The decision by the Ministry of Interior in Kosovo states that the Kosovo Police refused to allow Vukmirovic entry into Kosovo because she presented herself as a foreigner, with an identification document issued by the Republic of Serbia.
After Vukmirovic’s attorney filed an appeal against this decision, the Appeals Commission on Foreigners confirmed the decision and emphasizes that, based on Article 35 of the Constitution of Kosovo, freedom of movement is guaranteed to the citizens of Kosovo and that Vukmirovic can cross the border crossing/administrative line with the identification document issued by Kosovo, provided that she meets criteria defined by applicable laws.
SafeJournalists Network and partner organisations require an explanation from the Ministry of Internal Affairs as to why journalist Vukmirovic is not allowed to enter the territory of Kosovo and why she is considered a threat to public order, internal security, public health or international relations, particularly having in mind that she is allowed to enter the territory with Kosovo documents without hindrance. We also require from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ensure that the signed agreements between Belgrade and Prishtina are respected by the institutions in Kosovo, that the regulations are respected without discrimination. We asked the Ombudsperson to take all measures within its competence to establish whether there were omissions in the work of the Ministry of the Interior in this case.
We remind that The European Charter on Freedom of the Press states that freedom of the press is essential to a democratic society and the right of journalists and media to gather and disseminate information and opinions must not be threatened, restricted or made subject to punishment. Media and journalists have a right to unimpeded access to all news and information sources, including those from abroad.
On behalf of:
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
European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
OBC Transeuropa (OBCT)
European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
Free Press Unlimited (FPU)