ANEM reacts to dismissal of hooligan case

"Disregard for serious threats to personal safety of journalists endangers freedom of expression and democratization of society. The Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM) strongly protests against further threatening..."

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The First Primary Court in Belgrade has acquitted yesterday six "Partizan" football fans of all charges of threatening the safety of B92's journalist, Brankica Stanković. The court decided that their message that she would meet the fate of Slavko Ćuruvija - and their acts - kicking, throwing and punching of a doll made in her image did not represent a serious threat that would endanger the safety of the journalist, and that it may be considered only an insult, requiring a civil lawsuit to prosecute.

Vukašin Obradović said that he was worried about the safety of his journalists and family members after a series of lawsuits and charges submitted against him by Goran Tasić Gokče because of the articles published in Novine Vranjske. According to Vranjske, there are two ongoing legal proceedings against Tasić related to attempt of murder. Tasić was described as an important political figure and one of the leaders of the New Serbia political party in Vranje, who has been charged of 21 criminal act. Vukašin Obradović claims that after publishing an article about Tasić in the Vranjske newspaper, an unknown man approached his daughter and told her that her father would be murdered.

ANEM points out that threats journalists are exposed to after reporting on past or ongoing legal proceedings against the leaders of football fans' groups, or other extreme groups, like in the case of Brankica Stanković, or against local powerful figures, like in the case of Vukašin Obradović and Novine Vranjske, and trivializing of such threats in the legal practice of domestic courts and their legal reduction to common insults, result not only in endangering of safety of the most courageous and professional members of the journalistic community, but also send a clear message to the media that there are topics that should not be publicly discussed.

Not only have Brankica Stanković and Vukašin Obradović been left without adequate protection, but everyone's right to freedom of expression has been endangered; this right includes the right of the public to receive information on events and individuals that public has right to know.

The fight of the state and the society against the organized crime and violence, which has been declared by the state officials to be one of the highest priorities, is inconceivable and unrealizable without a free media and journalists who can report on the issues of public interest without fear for their own and their family members' lives.

ANEM expresses full solidarity with Brankica Stanković, Vukašin Obradović and all the other journalists who have been exposed to threats because of their professional activities, and calls on the authorities to take appropriate measures to ensure safety of the threatened journalists, as well as other strong measures within their authority to protect the law, the freedom of expression and the role of the media in a democratic society.

President of ANEM,

Saša Mirković

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