Last Despatches – Stories about journalists killed in the Balkans since the 1990s

139 journalists and media workers were killed during and after the violent breakup of Yugoslavia. Only one person has been convicted of responsibility for any of these killings.

Around 140 journalists were killed during and after the 1990s wars in the Balkans – some of them foreigners who came to cover the conflicts, but most of them citizens of the warring republics.

Some were killed while reporting from the front lines of the conflicts, while others were gunned down in the streets of their hometowns, or killed in their own offices. Amid the hysteria of nationalist unrest, journalists were seen by some as enemies who reported inconvenient truths.

What is hard to believe is that so far, only one person has been convicted of responsibility for any of these killings – Serb paramilitary boss Dragan Vasiljkovic, alias ‘Captain Dragan’, who was found guilty of an attack in Croatia in which a German journalist died. The lack of any other convictions shows that impunity for violence against reporters and other media workers has persisted for decades after the Balkan wars ended.

BIRN’s Last Despatches series tells the stories of some of these reporters, and highlights how attempts to secure justice for them have not yet succeeded – mainly because of official negligence or disinterest, or sometimes because their deaths still raise questions about people with connections to the highest levels of power in the Balkans today.

The Last Despatches series is part of BIRN’s Transitional Justice Initiative, co-funded by the Kingdom of The Netherlands and the European Commission.

If you know of someone who you believe should be listed among the journalists and media workers killed during and after the 1990s wars in the Balkans, contact BIRN at editor@birn.eu.com.

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* - References to Kosovo are without prejudice to positions on status. They are in line with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244/99 and the opinion by the International Court of Justice on the Kosovo declaration of independence.