OSCE Rep. condemns incidents directed at journalists and independent voices in Bosnia and Herzegovina

VIENNA, 29 July 2016 – Continuing intimidation and violence against journalists and independent voices is unacceptable and could further weaken media freedom and freedom of expression in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Dunja Mijatović, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, said today.

“I am following with great concern the extremely worrying situation in the country which could lead to self-censorship,” Mijatović said. “People engaged in investigative reporting and expressing different opinions, even provocative ones, should play a legitimate part in a healthy debate and their voices should not be restricted.”

Mijatović noted that the latest events open a very worrying chapter on the safety of journalists.

They include:

• Verbal attacks on writer and journalist Nenad Veličković;

• Verbal attacks on Borka Rudić, General Secretary of the Association of BiH Journalists;

• Verbal threats on journalist Mirjana Radanović;

• Threats and insults against journalists of FTV Mreža magazine;

• Threats against Dragiša Sikimić, editor-in-chief and the owner of the web portal MojaHercegovina.info;

• Verbal and physical assaults on BN TV, ATV and HIT TV crews;

• A physical attack on a BN TV camera operator;

• An assault on Nermin Bisa, editor-in-chief of 24sata.info;

• Verbal threats against freelance journalist Vuk Bačanović; and

• Offensive and discriminatory verbal attacks on Selma Učanbarlić, a journalist from the Centre for Investigative Reporting.

“This trend needs to be immediately reversed. Public condemnation at the highest level is needed in order to send a clear message that such threats, including hate speech, against journalists, academics and writers are not tolerated in a democratic society,” Mijatović said. “Investigations into these incidents, which include death threats transmitted by social media, need to be commenced immediately.”

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