The Western Balkan’s Regional Platform for Advocating Media Freedom and Journalists’ Safety, which represents more than 8,000 members, strongly condemns the verbal violence and threats against Martina Mlinarevic, a blogger and publicist from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and calls on the police and relevant judicial authorities to investigate this case as a matter of urgency and punish persons who through call for violence and hate speech threaten her safety.
Martina Mlinarevic has been exposed to days of brutal violence and threats through social networks after announcing that the promotion of her novel „Huzur“ was abruptly canceled at the traditional cultural festival in the town of Čitluk in West Herzegovina. Mlinarevic’s participation at this festival was canceled due to pressure from sponsors and persons close to the ruling structures in Herzegovina, who requested the festival organizers to cancel the promotion, although it was announced in the festival program and all materials prepared for this event.
The Western Balkan’s Regional Platform for Advocating Media Freedom and Journalists’ Safety believes that threats to blogger Mlinarevic, as well as a ban on promoting her novel, represent an intolerable attack on freedom of expression, her security and professional integrity, and also a particularly brutal attempt to prevent Mlinarevic from writing critically about public officials, first of all political and religious leaders of Croats in BiH, but also about all other politicians who hold public offices contrary to the democratic values and interests of the citizens of BiH.
“Repeating threats, hate speech and endangering the security of Martina Mlinarevic and her family show that police structures and judicial institutions in this country are not working effectively to counteract online violence. On the contrary! In the absence of effective response, punishment of abusers and those who spread hate speech, these institutions encourage and generate new violence, which is a direct threat and restriction of freedom of expression in Bosnia and Herzegovina“, said Marko Divkovic, president of the BH Journalists Association (BHJA).
He emphasized that “this case is also a matter of political censorship and a successful attempt to stop critical voices against the actions and decisions of public officials in Herzegovina, thereby seriously jeopardizing the political debate and pluralism of opinion throughout BiH.”
The Western Balkan’s Regional Platform for Advocating Media Freedom and Journalists’ Safety supports the requests of the BH Journalists Association addressed to the competent police and judicial institutions in BiH to conduct an urgent and professional investigation into this case and to punish those behind the threats and calls for violence against Martina Mlinarevic.
The Western Balkan’s Regional Platform for Advocating Media Freedom and Journalists’ Safety once again emphasize the importance of freedom of expression and pluralism of information for the development of democratic society and respect for citizens’ right to be informed on issues of public importance. In line with this, the Platform will inform all European institutions about this incident and request their intervention in the field of freedom of speech and opinion in the Western Balkans region.
Skoplje – Beograd – Podgorica – Prishtina – Sarajevo- Zagreb, 23.08.2019.
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