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Ministry of Justice considers additional legal protection for journalists

October 1, 2021

The Ministry of Justice’s working group has begun work on amendments to the sections of the Criminal Code that relate to the protection and safety of journalists.

Work will commence on the basis of analysis provided by Zoran Stojanović Ph.D., in cooperation with the OSCE Mission to Serbia, which has been submitted to the Ministry of Justice by the Working Group for the Security and Protection of Journalists, headed by Prime Minister Ana Brnabić.

Speaking for Cenzolovka, Stojanović said that the working group is considering amendments to three existing criminal acts: coercion, endangering security, and preventing the printing and distribution of printed items and the broadcasting of programmes.

Under the existing law, endangering security only relates to acts that imperil the life or bodily integrity of a journalist, but these amendments to the law should see it extended to include threats of an attack on freedom and higher value property assets.

When it comes to coercion, it has been proposed that the use of force or threats to compel a journalist to publish or not publish any information or opinion should represent a more serious form of that criminal act.

The amendment to the Criminal Code would penalise anyone who prevents or obstructs the publishing of information without authorisation or anyone who endangers the peace of mind of the publisher of information or opinions, which should encompass various forms of threats and harassment (including cyberspace) that do not fall under the endangering of security, and which certainly create an objective sense of endangerment among journalists.