Sarajevo, November 2 – The journalistic and media community of Bosnia and Herzegovina welcomes the UN Day for the Fight against Impunity for Crimes against Journalists with insufficient efficiency and commitment of the judiciary in processing threats and attacks on journalists, as well as punishing perpetrators.
From the beginning of 2018 until today, the BH Journalists Association has recorded 143 crimes against journalists, including attempted murder, physical attacks and death threats, as well as other serious forms of endangering the rights and safety of journalists. According to the available data, only 1/3 of the mentioned criminal offenses have been adequately investigated and resolved in favor of journalists.
The media professionals are particularly concerned about the increasing incidence of online violence and the growing number of threats that journalists receive through social networks and in comments on Internet portals. The authors of such threats generally go unpunished, even when it comes to explicit death threats and calls for violence.
With insufficient efficiency, the judiciary and other competent institutions of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina encourage attackers on journalists and send a message to the public that this is an acceptable way of behaving. Investigative bodies, prosecutors’ offices and courts must accept part of the responsibility for the atmosphere created and the perception that it is allowed to hit, insult and threaten journalists, and that such actions will not be sanctioned.
BH Journalists draw particular attention to the fact that two and a half decades after the end of the war, none of the highest officials in BiH, nor holders of public and political office, who are at the forefront of violence against journalists, have been convicted of insulting, censoring or threatening journalists. That is why a significant number of journalists believe that the judiciary has sided with one side, and that is not the side of justice.
Although journalists, media workers and professional associations demanded changes to the criminal law to make the prosecution of those responsible for threats and attacks on journalists faster and more efficient, there was no response from the relevant legislative and executive bodies – parliaments, ministries of justice, state, entity and Brcko District governments. Without the necessary commitment of the competent state and judicial institutions, it will not be possible to stop violence against journalists in BiH, nor to create an environment that will respect media freedoms and protect every journalist from attacks and threats.
Because of all the above, BH Journalists, on behalf of 700 of their members, resolutely demand harsher punishments for perpetrators of crimes against journalists, as well as faster and more impartial justice!
The Steering Committee of BH Journalists Association