EC Progress Report: Zero tolerance on threats against media in Kosovo

The progress report for Kosovo launched by European Commission on 18 April 2018 repeated the 2016 recommendations and one of them requires swift investigation against threats and physical attacks against journalists and put on trial the perpetrators.

The 2018 progress report for Kosovo stated that local authorities should be more efficient in prosecuting those that threaten and attack journalists.

“A more systematic response, including prompt investigation and a timely judgment, is needed to strengthen the protection of journalists. There must be zero tolerance for threats or attacks against media,” report reads.

According to this report, Association of Journalists of Kosovo (AJK) was active about the cases of incidents and attacks against journalists by treating those cases due to increased cooperation with police and state prosecution. The number of threats and attacks is increased compared to previous years.

“According to the Association of Journalists of Kosovo, in 2017 alone 24 incidents were reported, twice the number compared to the previous reporting period. Among the cases, 2 editors-in-chief have received death threats and a journalist who was physically attacked was on a later occasion threatened by a member of parliament,” it is said in the report.

Effective implementation of legislation remains a challenge, in particular the law on the public broadcaster. Kosovo’s assembly was slow and it is dissatisfying its attempts to find a sustainable financial solution.

The report stated that there is a need for creation of mechanisms that would offer transparent information in relation to media ownership.

With regard to the legal framework in the area of freedom of expression and the media in general, the findings of the report show that there is no development in this area.

Also, the report stressed that a challenge is remaining in online freedom of expression that are monitored neither by the Independent Media Commission nor by the Press Council of Kosovo.

“Although this creates an unhindered environment for online media, it also undermines the privacy of individuals, leading to many cases of alleged hate speech, libel and defamation. Such cases need to be thoroughly followed up.”

The report emphasized the challenges that journalists face like the lack of working contracts. It is stated that Kosovo’s poor economy has affected media too that makes them financially unsustainable.

“The lack of a strong private advertising industry makes private broadcasters dependent on other sources of funding, and few are able to operate without strong links to political and business interest groups.“

The report said that freedom of expression and the media are constitutionally guaranteed, and legislation on libel, hate speech and defamation is in line with the European Court of Human Rights case-law.

“Police, prosecutors and judges need proper training in the standards established by the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights for dealing with journalistic sources and materials.”

Association of Journalists of Kosovo, Pristina. 

The article was republished from with permission.