BiH: Report “Indicators on the level of media freedom and journalists’ safety”

Economic insecurity is the most frequent form of pressure on journalists in Bosnia and Herzegovina. As stated in the new report “Indicators on the level of media freedom and journalists’ safety”, owners and directors of the media “keep the journalists on a short leash”.

“Journalists in BiH are often faced with various forms of attacks. From 2013 to mid-2017, 88 threats and 22 physical attacks were recorded, of which only a quarter were solved in favor of journalists, “said the general secretary of BH Journalists Association Borka Rudic, while presenting the findings of the study and emphasized the problem of impunity for attacks on journalists in BiH.

Besides, the lack of labor laws and trade union professions at the state level is directly reflected in the level of protection of journalists, through the unequal access of journalists to social and material protection. Therefore, fear and mistrust of the workers in the real power of the trade unions exists.

The president of the BHJA Journalists club Banja Luka, Siniša Vukelić said that the media scene in Republika Srpska has the same problems as the whole region and that these problems are presented for decades, and reminded that last year an attempt was made to criminalize libel, and that the Club of Journalists had previously had the initiative to treat the attack on journalists as an attack on an official but has not received institutional support.

Senior Assistant at the faculty of Political Science, University of Banja Luka, Borislav Vukojević, evaluated that it is necessary to improve and adapt the education system for journalists in BiH.

“There is also a problem of fake news that many media uncritically download and continue to transmit. Nevertheless, it is positive that media dealing with media are being formed recently and they point to the problem of false news, “said Vukojević.

It was pointed out that in order to improve the media freedom and security of journalists in BiH, it is necessary to define the ownership of the media and the transparent criteria and procedures for financing the media from the public budgets. In addition, it is recommended to establish a fund for media pluralism and programs in the languages of national minorities, as well as the need to harmonize court practice in the FBiH and RS in prosecuting defamation cases.

The report “Indicators on the level of media freedom and journalists’ safety”  is the second research on Bosnia and Herzegovina conducted within the regional project Western Balkan’s Regional Platform for advocating media freedom and journalists’ safety,  implemented by the national journalists’ associations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia and the Trade Union of Media of Montenegro.

This report is a follow up of the baseline study on legislation, socio-economic and political situation with respect to freedom of media and security of journalists, which identified the key challenges and recommendations for associations of journalists and other stakeholders.

The article was republished from with permission.