OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Désir publicly denounced threats against journalists of the N1 news channel in Serbia on Friday.
In a letter sent to the Prime Minister of Serbia Ana Brnabić on 27 March, the Representative expressed his concern about the threats and pressure against the N1 news channel.
"On many occasions in recent days, the Serbia Programme Director of N1 Jugoslav Ćosić and other journalists have been threatened, including by being portrayed as foreign mercenaries, “anti-Serb”, “traitors” and a “CIA media outlet," Désir wrote.
"Several political figures in the country have accused N1 of supporting violence following its live coverage of protestors storming the headquarters of the public service broadcaster, RTS, on 16 March. Moreover, N1 was accused by one tabloid for calling for the murder of the President of Serbia. As a result, N1 journalists have received numerous threats.“
"I am seriously concerned by the tone of the accusations against N1. Such allegations could put journalists’ safety at risk,” Désir said.
In his letter to the Prime Minister, the Representative expressed hope that Serbian authorities will ensure that N1 journalists will be able to do their job without any pressure.
The US Embassy in Belgrade re-tweeted an OSCE statement condemning the threats against N1 TV, adding that threats against journalists are unacceptable and that reporting on protests does not mean support but is the job of free media in a democratic society. “We hope the Serbian authorities will continue to prevent and punish the intimidation aimed at silencing the media,” the embassy tweet said.
He also recalled that at the 2018 OSCE Ministerial Council the OSCE participating States adopted a decision on Safety of Journalists in which they “urge political leaders, public officials and/or authorities to refrain from intimidating, threatening or condoning – and to unequivocally condemn – violence against journalists, in order to reduce the risks or threats that journalists may face and avoid undermining trust in the credibility of journalists as well as respect for the importance of independent journalism”.