ARTICLE 19 concerned over financial probe into Serbian journalists, media and NG

NEWS 31.07.2020 20:44
Source: N1

The ARTICLE 19 free speech advocacy organization expressed concern on Friday over the Serbian authorities’ investigation into the finances of journalists, media and NGOs.

“ARTICLE 19, as part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), is concerned by a financial investigation launched by the Serbian authorities into journalists, media and civil society organisations… Given recent attacks on journalists and media freedom in Serbia, we are concerned that this could be an abuse of legal mechanism in order to exert pressure on the critical voices in Serbia,” a press release said.

It said that most of the organisations which the Finance Ministry’s Money Laundering Prevention Department is investigating are financed by domestic and international donors which have very strict rules and procedures for money spending and are subject to financial audit. “It is not clear what are the grounds for suspicion for initiating this kind of procedure. We are concerned that this type of campaign could lead to the discrediting of the individuals and organizations in public without reasonable grounds,” the press release said.

“Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) partners will closely monitor these investigations and support media and civil society organisations in their demand to Serbian Finance Ministry’s Money Laundering Prevention Department to present the grounds for suspicion due to which they ordered the extraordinary collection of information about organizations and individuals by commercial banks,” it said.