Sarajevo, April 1, 2021 – The Steering Committee of the BH Journalists Association welcomes the announcement of the Prime Minister of the Federation of BiH Fadil Novalic that next Monday at a meeting with the prime ministers of the cantons and ministers of health he will propose that media workers must enter the priority of vaccination. Prime Minister Novalic stated this yesterday for FENA agency, and added that he hopes “that other prime ministers will understand the importance and courage of people who work in journalism and try to give our citizens as much accurate and quality information as possible.”
After months of no response from the Federal Government to requests and appeals from journalists’ associations and media representatives to include journalists among the priority categories for vaccination, yesterday’s statement by Federal Prime Minister Novalic is certainly encouraging for all media professionals, who have been at daily risk for more than a year trying to provide citizens with timely and verified information regarding the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, the Steering Committee of BH Journalists draws attention to the fact that the mentioned Novalic’s announcement followed a few hours after the statement of the Minister of Health of Sarajevo Canton Haris Vranic, who told Klix.ba that journalists in Sarajevo Canton will not be included in the priority group for vaccination against coronavirus, which provoked revolt among numerous media employees in Sarajevo.
Considering the mentioned context and the fact that the governments of Republika Srpska, Brčko District and Zenica-Doboj Canton have already made a decision to include media workers on the list of priorities, while the Government of FBiH was silent on this issue until yesterday, BH Journalists, as well as our colleagues from the media in Sarajevo Canton, reject any kind of political struggles between SDA political party and the parties of the “three” that are currently in power in Sarajevo Canton in connection with the decision to put journalists on the priority list. We want to believe that the statement of Prime Minister Fadil Novalic is an expression of sincere intention to enable journalists to work in a safe and healthy environment, and that by prioritizing all media workers, the Government of the Federation of BiH wants to ensure an equal level of their protection throughout the Federation of BiH and the right to an equal level of health care.
We emphasize that the BH Journalists Association does not expect media workers to be on the same level with health workers, chronically ill or people over the age of 65, who should certainly have zero priority in the process of vaccination. However, due to the nature of the work they perform and the day-to-day contacts with large number of people, journalists, cameramen, photojournalists and other members of media crews are far more exposed to potential infection than those who can work from home or office. Therefore, we believe that these are the only valid reasons for putting journalists and all other media workers on the priority list on a par with police officers, firefighters, teachers and employees of other public institutions who also come into contact with a large number of people.
We remind that since the beginning of the pandemic, hundreds of our colleagues throughout BiH have been infected with the coronavirus while performing their work tasks and many, unfortunately, have tragically passed away as a result of the infection.