Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner: Politicians attitude towards journalists deteriorating

February 13, 2018

Nils Muižnieks, Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe, stated following his several-day visit to Serbia that there has been a major deterioration in attitudes to journalists in Serbia since 2015.

There are many more campaigns defaming journalists, in which politicians label them traitors, mercenaries and foreign agents,” illustrated Muižnieks.

He said that the number of threats against journalists and the number of attacks on journalists in Serbia have “increased notably”, and that he learned that from journalists themselves, bit also through the platform of the Council of Europe, via which 12 public warnings regarding such behaviour towards journalists have been issued. He added that the government has so far only responded to four such cases.

During his four-day visit to Serbia, Muižnieks held talks with representatives of the Ministry of Culture and Information, journalists’ associations and media unions.

As one of the key conclusions on the situation in the media sphere in Serbia, the CE Human Rights Commissioner highlighted the existence of, as he said, a huge gap in the perception of media freedom among representatives of the government, on the one hand, and representatives of civil society and journalists themselves, on the other.

He said that despite the existence of a commission that works to detect the perpetrators of murders of journalists and the involvement of Interior Ministry units in efforts to resolve these crimes, no significant progress has been made on this issue.