April 2, 2020

The Slavko Ćuruvija Foundation welcomes the release from police custody of Ana Lalić, a journalist of the nova.rs portal.

However, we nonetheless believe that her arrest – due to the publishing of an article, which must in no way happen in a normal democratic society – represents an unacceptable demonstration of force imposed on journalists.

The declared state of emergency must not be an excuse for dealing in a calculated way with journalists and intimidating the media. We know just how such calculations culminated during the state of emergency of 1999.

We demand that the prosecution service and police explain to the public what formed the basis to determine the measure of detaining Ana Lalić, which offence she is charged with committing, and whether a case is still being led against her. If such a case is being led, we demand its immediate suspension.

Informing citizens in the public interest regarding all important issues is an imperative in every orderly country, especially under the conditions of a state of emergency and struggling against a pandemic. Arresting journalists who present facts to the public regarding that struggle threatens not only the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Serbian Constitution and international conventions, but rather also potentially endangers the very lives of citizens themselves. We are shocked and horrified by the fact that, instead of focusing all of its capacities on the healthcare system, the state is turning against those who do their work in the public interest.

We call on the Government of Serbia to cease its abuse of the judiciary and to ensure the unhindered work of all journalists on the territory of the Republic of Serbia. No journalist in Serbia must ever again be detained and criminally prosecuted due to their professional work.