Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) today urged Serbian
lawmakers to throw out a package of controversial draft amendments to the
Public Information Act proposed by the government of Serbia.
In a letter to the
President of Serbia, Mr Boris Tadi?, IFJ President Jim
Boumelha urged him to withdraw the amendments. He wrote: "We are concerned
about the Serbian Government's haste
to adopt these amendments at an extraordinary session of Parliament, without
any prior public debate, or even consultation with media associations,
journalists and/or experts."
According to a thorough
analysis by independent legal experts commissioned by the Journalists'
Association of Serbia (JAS), one of IFJ
affiliates in Serbia, these
amendments to articles 14, 16, 92, 93 and 95 are not in accordance with
European standards nor with Serbia's
Constitution, and would severely constrain freedom of expression in Serbia.
They found that the main
provisions at the heart of these changes, registration requirement and fines,
do not satisfy the most important requirement of Article 10 of the European
Convention on Human Rights - that any measures must be "necessary in a
democratic society" - and do not achieve goals that Article 10 deems
The other IFJ affiliate,
the Independent Journalists' Association of Serbia
(IJAS), also shares these concerns. They drafted and submitted changes to
the disputed amendments, highlighting the best European practice and the
need for harmonisation of Serbia's
media legislation with the EU standards.
The IFJ supports its
affiliates in opposing the amendments. "The proposed drastic fines, which would
make it possible for your government to rapidly shut down media outlets, are
inconsistent with the Serbian legal
system and will impose an enormous restraint on freedom of the press, resulting
in stifling the media, as well as self-censorship." wrote Boumelha in his
letter to the president.
The IFJ objects to the
media registry's being subjected to state control, as well as to the heavy fines
imposed for failing to register which could only lead media outlets to bankruptcy.
It further believes that the proposal to shut down publications for being
insolvent for a non-consecutive period of 90 days will also curtail press
IFJ joins its affiliates, the Journalists' Association of Serbia and the Independent Journalists' Association
of Serbia, in calling on members of
the Serbian Parliament to reject
these legislative proposals.
For more information
contact the IFJ at +32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists
in 123 countries worldwide