Serbia’s authorities created an environment in which the attacks on media people were legalised, Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, the President of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) warned on Thursday, the Beta news agency reported.
In an interview with the Danas daily he said such attitude led to severe cases which in the worst scenario ended in murder.
“The state leaders, politicians, all those in power are obliged to protect journalists. Instead, we often see that they attack and criticise them, using the freedom of speech as an excuse,” Bjerregård said.
He suggested to journalists to respect the professional organisations such as the Press Council and to honour the ethical standards.
“My advice is to be sure that all media are self-regulated and that they observe professional and ethical standards. If that is not the case, they leave room to the regime to try to regulate them. We must prove that we are capable of doing it ourselves,” Bjerregård told the daily.
Belgrade has been under increasing pressure to respect the rule of law and media freedom by various international organisations and local journalists’ associations.
However, the authorities often reject criticisms but, addressing the World Economic Forum in Davos this month; President Aleksandar Vucic admitted he was not happy with the situation in the area, adding he hoped that in up to two years he would be able to say he was proud with the improvements.
Local journalists and some opposition leaders described that as the highest level of hypocrisy.
The Independent Association of Serbia’s Journalists (NUNS) has recently said that media people in the country suffered seven physical attacks, in 72 cases they were exposed to pressure and 23 times they were verbally threatened in 2018.
They also warned about still unsolved murders of three journalists that happened years ago.
Last November, the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) head of the Balkan desk, Pauline Ades-Mevel told Danas she met with the representatives of other media freedom organisations who agreed that the media situation in Serbia was bad.