IN 2018

Latest threats to media freedom

 

Serbian Journalist Predrag Blagojević Assaulted by Police at a Music Festival over Identification

Update: 23 Feb 2018 State replied
Year 25 Aug 2015 Country Serbia Category A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 2
25 Aug 2015 Serbia A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists State EFJ/IFJ Level 2

Predrag Blagojević, editor of the Juzne Vesti website was the victim of police violence at a music festival on the night of Saturday 15 August 2015. Blagojević, who had previously received threats, recounted the incident to media, saying that a police officer at the festival asked for his identity. When the journalist presented his international accreditation card, the officer took him to a police van and hit him twice on the head, warning the reporter “not to act smart”. Blagojević was also prevented from using his phone to contact anyone who could confirm his identity. He was later taken to the local police station where officers finally checked his papers. Following media reports of this attack and the outrage by the journalists’ unions, the chief of police in Nishville, Srdjan Grekulovic, announced the launch of an investigation into the incident.

State replies

24 Nov 2015 : Reply from the Republic of Serbia provided by the Ministry of Interior

Follow-ups

New 23 Feb 2018 : Commissioner for Human Rights: ‘Concerted efforts needed to protect media freedoms in Serbia’
25 Aug 2015 : OSCE media freedom representative calls for full investigation into police attack on journalist in Serbia

Journalists from Magločistač News Portal Receive Death Threats

Update: 23 Feb 2018 No reply yet
Year 21 Sep 2017 Country Serbia Category C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat Non-state Partner EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , Index , RSF Alert level Level 1
21 Sep 2017 Serbia C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Non-state EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , Index , RSF Level 1
No reply yet

On 4 September 2017, journalists and media workers working for the Serbian Subotica Magločistač news portal received explicit death threats following the publication of an article entitled “We are all Gosa workers, and all the rulers are Labans” (Svi smo mi radnici Goše, a vladari Labani). The team of journalists was threatened with harsh words in the comments section. The article referred to the death threats made by Bogdan Laban, the mayor of Subotica, directed against one of his party colleagues, Magločistač news portal reported about that event.

Follow-ups

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

Serbian Weekly ‘Vranjske Novine’ Closed Following Administrative Harassment

Update: 23 Feb 2018 No reply yet
Year 25 Sep 2017 Country Serbia Category C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Alert level Level 2
25 Sep 2017 Serbia C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists State EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Level 2
No reply yet

Serbian weekly Vranjske novine will cease publishing, announced founder and editor-in-chief Vukasin Obradovic on 18 September. The paper claims it has been subject to intense political and economic pressures, including financial inspections allegedly aimed at compromising its finances. According to the Independent Journalists’ Association (NUNS), Vranjske novine has been subjected to political and economic pressure since its creation in 1994, as the weekly is known for revealing abuse of public office, such as corruption and organised crime. Obradovic, his family and his colleagues experienced multiple non-investigated instances of harassment and persecution, ranging from repeated direct threats, car tampering, offices robbed, to inspections and controls leading to the economic suffocation of the newspaper, peaking this year. A recent attempt to inspect Vranjske beginning on 16 August 2017, was followed by an unexpected financial inspection on 4 September. NUNS states that although the inspections are legitimate, the question is whether they were prompted by the publication of an interview with a former Vranje Tax Authority head. Soon after the publication, Obradovic was warned off the record, to expect an inspection with the intention of harassing the newspaper. He wrote in an open letter to the tax administration authority published on 21 September, that Vranjske has been operating in accordance with the law since its creation. Vukasin Obradovic received many awards for his investigative work. In 2009, he was awarded OSCE media personality of the year. He was also President of NUNS, between 2010 and February 2017.

Follow-ups

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

Serbian Reporter Lidija Valtner Attacked During New Serbian President’s Inauguration

Update: 23 Feb 2018 No reply yet
Year 02 Jun 2017 Country Serbia Category A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat Non-state Partner RSF , EFJ/IFJ , Index Alert level Level 2
02 Jun 2017 Serbia A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Non-state RSF , EFJ/IFJ , Index Level 2
No reply yet

Lidija Valtner, a reporter for the Serbian daily Danas, was filming an altercation between supporters of Vučić’s Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) and a protester during the President's inauguration on 31 May 2017, in Belgrade, when she was attacked by two Progressive Party supporters. One tried to grab her phone in order to prevent her from filming and, when she tried to defend herself, the two men seized her and forcibly took her away to a neighbouring park, 50 meters away. In an interview with RSF, Valtner expressed dismay that two plainclothes police officers watched this attack without coming to her help. Force was also used to prevent journalists with Vice, Radio Belgrade and the Cenzovska and Insajder websites from reporting or filming the demonstrations.

Follow-ups

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

Serbian Journalist Stevan Dojčinović Target of a Smear Campaign

Update: 23 Feb 2018 State replied
Year 04 Apr 2016 Country Serbia Category C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat Unknown Partner EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 2
04 Apr 2016 Serbia C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Unknown EFJ/IFJ Level 2

Stevan Dojčinović, an investigative journalist and editor-in-chief of KRIK (Crime and Corruption Reporting Network), working for the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), was the target of several attacks, over the last months, in Serbian pro-governmental media, including the tabloid Informer. Dojčinović has been accused of collaborating with foreign secret services and there have been attempts to smear his reputation by publishing rumours about him cooperating with drug dealers and criminals. Civil Rights Defenders has condemned the attacks. “Particularly disturbing is the fact that the campaign was initiated by the act of current journalistic research and not an actual published story, which indicates that someone monitors the work of KRIK. This is an intolerable situation and must immediately stop”, said Goran Miletic, Programme Director for the Western Balkans at Civil Rights Defenders. The Independent Association of Journalists of Serbia (NUNS) also condemned the "lynch campaign conducted by Informer against the portal Krik.rs", and urged the Ministry of the Interior to investigate whether the information that Informer holds was received from the state authorities.

State replies

21 Nov 2016 : Reply from the Republic of Serbia provided by the Ministry of the Interior

Follow-ups

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

Investigative Journalists Receive Several Death Threats, Broadcaster Claims

Update: 23 Feb 2018 State replied
Year 23 Mar 2016 Country Serbia Category C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat Unknown Partner Index Alert level Level 1
23 Mar 2016 Serbia C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Unknown Index Level 1

Several death threats have been sent to journalists at the investigative journalism portal insajder.net which is owned by broadcaster B92.The threats have been sent via email to several reporters over a week's time, between 14 and 22 March 2016. They have also been received by Insajder’s editor-in-chief Brankica Stankovic and B92’s editor-in-chief Veran Matic. Both have been under police protection for years due to serious threats. Due to a pending police investigation no details of the threats have been revealed, according to Veran Matic. The Independent Association of Journalists of Serbia (NUNS) condemned the threats and is urging the authorities to identify and prosecute the people responsible.

Updates

23 Mar 2016 : Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic announced on 23 March 2016 that a person has been arrested for threatening Brankica Stankovic and Veran Matic.

State replies

21 Nov 2016 : Reply from the Republic of Serbia provided by the Ministry of Interior

Follow-ups

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

Serbian Investigative Journalist Ivan Ninić Suffers Brutal Attack

Update: 23 Feb 2018 State replied
Year 07 Sep 2015 Country Serbia Category A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat Unknown Partner EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 1
07 Sep 2015 Serbia A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Unknown EFJ/IFJ Level 1

27-year-old Investigative journalist Ivan Ninić was attacked on 27 August 2015 in front of his home as he was locking his car in the parking lot. Two young men beat him with metal rods. The journalist suffered a hematoma under his eye, severe bruising to the thigh bone and an injury to the right shoulder. The incident, which has been condemned by all journalists’ organisations in Serbia including the three IFJ/EFJ affiliates, the Association of Journalists of Serbia (UNS), the journalists’ union of Serbia (SINOS) and the Independent Association of Journalists of Serbia (NUNS), has been reported to the police. According to Union of Serbian Journalists (UNS), Ivan Ninić has published approximately 300 articles and investigative stories, a large number of which were published on the anti-corruption website Pistaljka. He also participated in the writing of the Anti-corruption Council’s Annual Report on the ownership structure and control of the media in Serbia. Ninić is also the Executive Director of "Center for the rule of law", a Serbian NGO which is about to launch its online platform.

State replies

12 Nov 2015 : Response of the Serbian Government (Ministry of Interior)

Follow-ups

New 23 Feb 2018 : Commissioner for Human Rights: ‘Concerted efforts needed to protect media freedoms in Serbia’
09 Sep 2015 : Statement of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights

Journalist Philippe Bertinchamps Threatened with Expulsion in Serbia

Update: 23 Feb 2018 Resolved
Year 19 Feb 2018 Country Serbia Category C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 2
19 Feb 2018 Serbia C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists State EFJ/IFJ Level 2

In February 2018, Philippe Bertinchamps, a Belgrade-based Belgian journalist working for various French-speaking media outlets is threatened with expulsion after the Serbian interior minister (MUP) rejected his second request for a temporary residence permit. If deported, the journalist will be separated from his family living in Serbia. The authorities are accusing him of being an "obstacle to public order and national security". Mr. Bertinchamp's application for a temporary residence permit on preservation of familiy unity grounds was rejected by the MUP in April 2017 and again on 8 January 2018 with no explanation. A Serbian administrative court ruled in his favour in November 2017, agreeing the authorities needed to provide grounds for their rejection of his appeal. Mr. Bertinchamps has been covering Serbia and Western Balkans for the last ten years without ever coming into conflict with the law.

Resolved In light of the developments of 19 February 2018, which allowed the journalist to remain in the country, the partner organisations to the Platform declared this case to be ”resolved”, concluding it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.

Updates

New 19 Feb 2018 : On 19 February 2018, Philippe Bertinchamps was delivered a residence visa for a year.

Follow-ups

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

Increased Verbal Abuse Against Independent Serbian Media.

Update: 23 Feb 2018 No reply yet
Year 21 Feb 2018 Country Serbia Category C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat Non-state Partner RSF , EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 2
21 Feb 2018 Serbia C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Non-state RSF , EFJ/IFJ Level 2
No reply yet

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".

Follow-ups

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

Radio Journalist and Presenter Found Dead in Home

Update: 23 Feb 2018 Resolved
Year 20 Jun 2016 Country Serbia Category A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat Unknown Partner Index , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 1
20 Jun 2016 Serbia A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Unknown Index , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ Level 1

Journalist and radio host Luka Popov from northern Serbia was found dead in his home in Srpski Krstur on Friday 17 June 2016. According to Serbian daily Blic, Popov’s body was found with visible injuries and he had been presumably “tortured and murdered”. The police are currently investigating the circumstances behind the death. The Serbian Journalist associations NUNS and UNS, and journalist association of Vojvodina DNV have urged the authorities to thoroughly investigate the circumstances around the journalist’s death. The OSCE has condemned the murder. The OSCE’s representative on freedom of the media, Dunja Mijatović, said that the investigation "must be carried out in a swift and thorough manner." "The authorities must do their utmost to bring the perpetrators of this horrific murder to justice.” Luka Popov was the host of radio programs in the towns of Coka and Novi Knezevac.

Resolved On 21 June 2016, following the arrest of three individuals who confessed to the murder of Popov during an attempted burglary not related to his journalistic activities, the partners of the Platform declared this case to be "resolved”, concluding that it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.

Updates

21 Jun 2016 : Following a swift investigation, three people have been arrested in connection with the crime.

Follow-ups

New 23 Feb 2018 : Commissioner for Human Rights: ‘Concerted efforts needed to protect media freedoms in Serbia’
20 Jun 2016 : OSCE Representative welcomes arrests following murder of journalist in Serbia, praises police swift action.
17 Jun 2016 : OSCE media freedom representative condemns murder of journalist in Serbia, calls on authorities for swift and thorough investigation.
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Factsheet on detention with a view to expel, return, transfer or extradite a person to another country