Between 1998 and 2005, in the aftermath of the Balkan war, there were 20 killings, kidnappings and “disappearances“ of Serbian and Albanian journalists and media workers. In 19 of these cases, no one was held accountable. They include:
Serbian journalists Ranko Perenić and Đuro Slavuj who disappeared in 1998 when they were working for Radio Pristina;
Journalist Ismail Bërbatovci who disappeared in July 1998;
Journalist Nebojša Radošević and photographer Vladimir Dobričić who were kidnapped in October 1998;
Journalist Afrim Maliqi who was murdered in December 1998;
Journalist and head of the Kosovo Information Center Enver Maloku who was murdered in January 1999;
RTP Journalist Haki Braha who was killed in March 1999;
Correspondent for the Serbian national daily Ljubomir Knežević who disappeared in May 1999;
Stern journalists, Gabriel Grüner, Volker Krämer and translator Senol Alit were murdered in June 1999;
Journalist Aleksandar Simović Sima of Media Action International was murdered in August 1999;
RTV Pristina Editor Krist Gegaj who was murdered in September 1999;
Photojournalist Momir Stokuća who was murdered in September 1999;
Rilindja journalist Shefki Popova who was murdered in September 2000;
Journalist Marjan Melonaši who disappeared in September 2000;
Bota Sot journalist Xhemail Mustafa who was murdered in November 2000;
Bota Sot photojournalist Bekim Kastrati who was murdered in October 2001;
Bota Sot journalist and columnist Bardhyl Ajeti who was murdered in June 2005.
Violence against journalists continued after 2005
In 2020, various cases of media workers being attacked, threatened or harassed were reported. For instance, in October 2020, investigative journalist Shkumbin Kajtazi’s car was shot at just four months after his other car had been set on fire.
The Association of Journalists of Kosovo (AGK) has listed a number of attacks against journalists and media from January to the end of September 2021. The crimes range from attacks on media houses, physical violence and online harassment against journalists and threats coming from officials and politicians.
The IFJ noted an escalation of violence against journalists with targeted attacks and intimidation occuring on several occasions. In February 2021, Visar Duriqi, a journalist at the online news portal Insajderi, was assaulted outside his home at night. He suffered severe injuries and was taken to the hospital. In March 2021, the Reporteri platform was targeted by cyber attacks. In April 2021, Dasko Milinovic, a journalist and radio host, was physically assaulted on his way to work. In October 2021, Gazeta Sinjali workers were targeted by death threats .
Many of these violations took place when journalists were reporting on the field. On 13 October, 2021, Several journalists covering riots for different media organisations were attacked by protesters and media workers had to move away.
A call for truth
In October 2021, the European Federation of Journalists General Assembly joined a union solidarity call for an international commission of experts to investigate the killings and disappearances of journalists and media workers between 1998 and 2005 in Kosovo, i.e. during and after the war in Kosovo.
“The increased number of attacks, threats and harassment toward journalists through the years are a good indicator on how easily the rights of journalists are violated. The lack of proper investigations carried out by the relevant institutions, as well as the prolonging of the cases by the courts lead more attacks, threats and lynching toward our members,” said the AGK.