Nikola Moraca, a journalist of the newspaper EuroBlic and the portal SrpskaInfo, was questioned by the police and asked to reveal the source of information contrary to the legal provisions and international standards for the protection of media freedom and expression.
The journalist was questioned at the Banja Luka Police Station because of his article about the rape of an eighteen-year-old girl, for which one person is suspected. The police inspectors on duty, in the presence of the prosecutor, asked the journalist to reveal who gave him information about the person suspected of rape. Although they did not have a legal court order, the inspectors confiscated his mobile phone, and using their position, the inspectors and the prosecutor, pointing out that he would be detained for at least five hours by the police, took advantage of the unfavorable situation in which the journalist found himself, who in the end signed that he “voluntarily” hands over his own phone to the police.
Borka Rudic, BH Journalists Secretary General, says that everything related to this case is legally and procedurally problematic. “This is a egregious example of institutional pressure on a journalist, as well as an impermissible and disproportionate threat to his right to freedom of expression and informing the public about the case of the rape of an eighteen-year-old girl. This is why we will launch the Free Media Help Line legal system, and review and analyze the actions by the police and the prosecution in Banja Luka in order to file a criminal complaint,” said Rudic. She added that she is encouraged by the solidarity of all journalists in BiH and the undivided support to journalist Nikola Moraca, but that now we need to persevere in seeking responses from competent institutions in the Republika Srpska for the brutal violation of media freedom.
SafeJournalists Network, representing more than 8,200 media professionals in the Western Balkans, condemns the actions of the police and the competent prosecutor’s office towards the journalist Moraca, using institutional force contrary to the Constitution and criminal legislation of the Republika Srpska, which protect freedom of expression and the right of journalists to protect information sources. The network believes that this is another attempt to stifle media freedom in the Republika Srpska.
The SafeJournalists Network demands ceasing of such legal and institutional violence against the journalist. Also, the Network calls upon competent authorities to examine the behavior of the responsible persons of the Banja Luka Police Department and the District Public Prosecutor’s Office in order to protect journalists and media freedom.
SafeJournalists network will inform all relevant national and international stakeholders about the latest case.
Each attack on journalists is an attack on public interest, democracy and rights of all citizens.
Belgrade – Podgorica – Pristina – Sarajevo – Skopje – Zagreb, 27.2.2023
Association of Journalists of Kosovo
Association of Journalists of Macedonia
BH Journalists Association
Croatian Journalists’ Association
Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia
Trade Union of Media of Montenegro