BHJA Steering Committee: Reaction to the Prosecutor’s Office’s of BiH announcement

SARAJEVO, 19.06.2019. – The Association of BH Journalists Steering Committee expresses concern about the announcement by the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH that it will hear “people who through the media report negative messages about the work of the judiciary with the aim of destabilizing the judicial system”.

In today’s statement from the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH they have argued that they have formed a special case and will “examine with due care and in accordance with the law” persons who are related to the case of the alleged “receiving and giving of gifts”, within which statements have already been given by Marko Pandza, State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) employee, Nermin Alesevic, businessman and Milan Tegeltija, president of High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC) of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Members of BH Journalists Steering Committee deeply believe that this statement does not hide the intent of the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH to arrest and imprison journalists and editors whose media published controversial video footage from the so-called “Shoeing affair“. We believe that the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH is familiar with the media freedom and the rights of journalists in the way they are governed by domestic and international laws and regulations and that they will not resort to judicial pressure on media professionals as it did in April and March this year, when the chief prosecutor Gordana Tadic and a number of acting prosecutors have tried in an unlawful way to force journalists from the portal Žurnal to disclose their sources of informations and, against the Criminal Code of BiH, force them to violate the professional secrecy.

On this occasion, BH journalists Steering Committee again and resolutely demands from the BiH Prosecutor’s Office respect for the rights of journalists to freedom of expression, freedom of criticism of judicial officials, the use of unnamed sources and the preservation of professional secrecy, including all other human rights of journalists protected by existing laws in BiH and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

BH journalists remind law enforcement officials that they are obliged to respect media freedom and journalists rights, which does not exclude the possibility of their reaction to unprofessional journalists handling or misleading media coverage. Such responses must be reduced to legitimate procedures defined by the Code of Ethics and legal protocols, which include: correcting a misrepresentation, filing an appeal to a regulatory and self-regulatory body in BiH, or lawsuits for defamation and disruption of the reputation and honor of a judicial officeholder.

Any other reaction from the BiH Prosecutor’s Office or other judicial institutions to us in BH journalists will be considered as the unlawful criminalization of journalists and media as well as the public demonstration of the institutional and judicial power over media freedom in BiH, undertaken with the intent to limit the rights of journalists to freedom of expression.

If this happens, BH journalists will initiate all available domestic and international mechanisms for the protection of media freedom and individual rights of journalists in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Steering Committee of Association of BH Journalists
BHN, Sarajevo, 19/06/2019

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