16 Apr 2020 Lvl. 2
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Alert created on: 16 Apr 2020 n° 42/2020 Serbia

Serbia: Journalists Required to Send Questions in Writing ahead of Press Conferences

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner EFJ/IFJ
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Partner EFJ/IFJ
The Serbian government announced that, as of Saturday 11 April 2020, journalists are required to send their questions about the coronavirus pandemic in writing by email, until 14.30 p.m. at the latest, for the press conference to start at 15 p.m.. Direct transmission of the conferences are organised by Radio-Television of Serbia and Tanjug News Agency, with no interaction and possibility to ask additional questions.

The decision was made due to the "growing concerns among journalists, cameramen and photojournalists for their health, and following complaints about their vulnerability at press conferences of the president and members of the government, as well as experts."

Journalists' associations strongly condemned this press freedom violations, arguing that the government was trying to restrict the right to access information. They also called for a video conferencing system where journalists could ask questions live, as set up in other countries.

This decision was announced on 10 April, on the same day as President Vucic's visit to the southern city of Nis. During a press conference, a N1 TV reporter asked President Vucic whether he had been tested after announcing that his son had tested positive for the coronavirus. This question triggered a storm of criticisms from media outlets close to the government against N1 TV.
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