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The ruling party has no right to publicly label individuals who protest

Public showing of "wanted lists" with anyone’s picture is unacceptable in civilized society, regardless of who stands behind it, who the author is or what message is sent. Public wanted lists have become a common phenomenon in Serbia, both at the protests and in media. They all crossed the line.

AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic: Sedmi dan protesta
Foto: AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic / Sedmi dan protesta

It is a Constitutional right of every individual to protest. The ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) does not have the authority to target individuals who participate in demonstrations. Insajder Production team considers this method of political fight used by both the ruling coalition led by SNS and by the protesters unacceptable.

However, the potential consequences are very different when anonymous groups use this method in protests and when the ruling Progressive Party uses this kind of measures as a mean of political fight, especially when the leader of the Progressive Party in Serbian Assembly, Aleksandar Martinovic, uses the national broadcaster Serbian Radio Television (RTS) for that purpose.

While giving a statement on RTS on Wednesday, Martinovic showed photographs of singled out, individual protesters in order to ”prove” that the protests are organized by political opponents of his Party leader, Prime Minister and President-elect Aleksandar Vucic. Among those in the photographs shown to the public by Martinovic are the children of opposition politicians and the journalists who have critical approach to the Government.

The protests in Serbia started on 3rd April, a day after the presidential elections in which the current Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic won with 55 percent of the popular vote.

However, the protesters, mainly students and youth, are protesting against the atmosphere under which the election was conducted. They claim that PM Vucic abused his position to win the election. They also protests against general conditions in Serbian society.

Rules of conduct and editorial policy

Journalists, as all other citizens, have the right to participate in protests. At the same time, they have to make sure that their political opinions do not interfere with their professional duties and reporting. Journalists must work in the interest of the public.

Despite Insajder Production’s policy that our journalists cannot participate in the protests unless on duty, we consider that no one, and especially the representatives of legislative and executive power, has the right to target the protesters.

Serbian Constitution guarantees every citizen the freedom of movement and freedom of choice. By showing photographs on the national public broadcaster RTS, Martinovic not only abused the Serbian public service but he also made targets of every individual shown labeling them as enemies of the state.

Insajder team

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