Increased Verbal Abuse Against Independent Serbian Media.

Update: 16 Apr 2018 State replied
Year 21 Feb 2018 Country Serbia Category Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat Non-state Partner RSF , EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 2
21 Feb 2018 Serbia Harassment and intimidation of journalists Non-state RSF , EFJ/IFJ Level 2

Since the beginning of the year, several journalists have been threatened in Serbia, in a context of increasing verbal violence against the media that challenge the actions of a government. Journalist Tamara Skrozza published a report, highlighting that candidates from the SNS, the government’s political party, were four times more visible than candidates of the opposition on the pro-government TV channel Pink TV. In response, the private channel accused her of being an "enemy of the state" and a series of insults were addressed to her on Pink TV's account on social media. In early February, reporter Una Hajdari was attacked on social media. Following a photomontage on Twitter of the president's visit in Kosovo, she was accused of "hating Serbia, Serbs and Vucic". The same week, Dragan Janjic, redactor in chief of the independent agency Beta, also received hundreds of insults and hateful messages on social media. He suggested on 16 January, in a tweet, that the murder of the Kosovo Serb politician, Oliver Ivanović, was motivated by political considerations. Nikola Radisic, journalist for the TV channel N1 (a CNN International partner) was verbally attacked in the street by two men accusing him of being an "American spy and a traitor".

State replies

16 Apr 2018 : Reply from the Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia  

Follow-ups

23 Feb 2018 : Commissioner for Human Rights: ‘Concerted efforts needed to protect media freedoms in Serbia’

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20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Mehmet Altan’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Altan’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Altan’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.

20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Şahin Alpay’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Alpay’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 46 (binding force and execution of judgments) of the Convention, the Court held that it was incumbent on the respondent State to ensure the termination of Mr Alpay’s pre-tria detention at the earliest possible date. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Alpay’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.
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