Freedom House: SNS erodes political rights, civil liberties, media freedom

Freedom House: SNS erodes political rights, civil liberties, media freedom

Freedom House: SNS erodes political rights, civil liberties, media freedom Izvor: freedomhouse.org

Summarising the situation in the country, the Freedom House (FH) 2019 report for Serbia says that “in recent years the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) has steadily eroded political rights and civil liberties, putting pressure on independent media, the political opposition, and civil society organizations. Despite these trends, the country has continued to move toward membership in the European Union.”

Serbia is ranked as "hybrid regime" country “due to deterioration in the conduct of elections, continued attempts by the government and allied media outlets to undermine independent journalists through legal harassment and smear campaigns, and President Aleksandar Vucic’s de facto accumulation of executive powers that conflict with his constitutional role.”

The FH latest Nation in Transit report says that one of the biggest problems in Serbia is the lack of media freedom, the Belgarde Cenzolovka website cited the report.

The report says the majority of print and electronic media, in the country, are under the SNS control.

In terms of the overall quality of democracy and conditions under which electoral contests take place, one of the biggest problems facing Serbia is the deterioration of media freedoms.

The majority of Serbia’s print and electronic media remain under the control of the ruling SNS.

"At their worst, media such as TV Pink and the tabloid Informer serve as SNS propaganda outlets used to praise the ruling party and its leader, while demonizing critics and opponents. In less-extreme cases, such as the public broadcaster RTS or broadsheet Politika, they offer more subtle pro-government coverage coupled with extremely limited space for opposition activities," the report said.

It adds that "while critical voices, such as cable news channel N1 or the daily Danas, do exist, their reach is limited. Media outlets with wide reach offering anything close to balanced political coverage are extremely rare. In 2019, attacks and threats continued against journalists critical of the government."

The report also points out the attacks on journalists which are usually unsanctioned, including the threats to N1 and Slobodan Georgijev from the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN).   

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