Journalist associations support protesters’ demands on media freedoms

The journalist and media associations and organizations from Serbia supported today the demands of “Against Dictatorship” protesters relating to freedom of the press, dismissal of members of the Council of the Regulatory Body for Electronic Media (REM) and executives of public service broadcasters of Serbia (RTS) and Vojvodina (RTV).

Thousands of citizens have protested since 3rd April over the ruling Serbian Progressive Party’s unfair pre-election campaign, media blackout, and general conditions in Serbian society.

On Monday, protesters agreed on and announced their demands. Those regarding media freedom include the dismissal of heads of the RTS and RTV and of all members of the REM. Other demands include abolition of dictatorship, fair elections, dismissal of the members of political parties from the positions in public companies, and decentralization of Serbia.

They also demand free health care and education, removal of austerity measures, and protection of working rights.

The Statement supporting the protesters’ demands was signed by the Independent Journalist Association of Serbia (NUNS), Independent Journalist Association of Vojvodina (NDNV), Association of Independent Electronic Media, Association of Local Independent Media – Local Press, Association of Online Media, and Slavko Curuvija Foundation.

“Judicial system in Serbia needs to sanction media that violate the Law on Public Information and the Media, but in a way that is consistent with the high standards established by the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg,” reads the written statement of the associations.

They concluded that the REM has been working against the law by appointing members who are incompetent but politically suitable. “Those individuals were appointed through political party lines, and in certain cases, with a drastic violation of the law.”

The associations stated that media scene in Serbia needs many other remedies since the situation is critical.

Fulfilling the demands of the protesters would be the first step toward ensuring media pluralism and preventing further abuse of media by the government.

In the statement, the associations also reminded the RTS and RTV that they are obliged to inform citizens in accordance with public interests - professionally, truthfully, and timely. They also requested from the leadership of RTS and RTV to resign and stop “disgracing the profession of journalism.”

Mina Milanovic

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