Sarajevo, 03. 04. 2020. – The Steering Committee of the BH Journalists Association publicly requests that Ms. Sebija Izetbegovic, Director of the Clinical Center of the University of Sarajevo (KCUS), provide journalists and all media outlets with equal access to information regarding the coronavirus epidemic in Sarajevo, its effects on public health and the measures taken by this healthcare institution.
According to complaints from a number of journalists received by the Free Media Help Line, the KCUS Press Service is inaccessible to journalists and does not respond to inquiries from a certain media outlets, while director Izetbegovic selects media outlets to ensure them “exclusivity” and priority in obtaining information of public importance. Particularly worrying is the fact that citizens of Sarajevo Canton, as well as the whole of BiH, cannot obtain accurate, comprehensive and credible information about the death of a patient at the infectious ward of Podhrastovi clinic, the number of coronavirus tests available to citizens, the consequences of the closure of a KCUS clinic on patient health and the safety of other medical staff at the Clinical Center, etc.
The Steering Committee of BH Journalists opposes the introduction of censorship and the non-transparent sharing of information with the media outlets, and strongly requests that Dr. Izetbegovic, as the most responsible person of KCUS, establish a permanent, efficient and non-discriminatory system of communication with all media, including daily informing the public on issues related to public health, measures taken by KCUS in the treatment of diseased citizens and prevention of the spread of coronavirus.
Also, the BH Journalists Steering Committee once again publicly calls on the Crisis Staff of the Canton of Sarajevo and the Crisis Staff of the Federation of BiH not to select information, as well as to avoid answering questions submitted to them by e-mail. It is the public responsibility and task of each crisis staff and its members to respond to all media inquiries, including questions regarding the purchase of coronavirus tests, their number and price, and the names of the companies through which the tests and other necessary medical equipment were procured. We emphasize again: these are questions of interest to citizens, and the answers to them are of public interest and are part of the right to freedom of information.