IFJ Concerned by “Glaring Lack” of Safety Measures for Journalists and Media Staff in Kosovo

The International Federation of Journalists today warned the Kosovar authorities over the lack of protection provided by police against bomb threats on Kosovar public broadcaster RTK along with other media.

Following the resignation last Tuesday of former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, who was indicted on war crimes charges by the Hague war crimes tribunal, police received several written warnings that Kosovar public radio and television RTK, as well as other media outlets would be bombed.

Despite the fact that police were informed about threats the day before, they did not provide any specific measures of support or protection. In fact they left this to the discretion of the RTK management to act, who simply decided to evacuate the majority of staff asking volunteers to risk their lives in order to maintain the core functions of the programme.

“Kosovo is going through a process of democratic media reforms and we insist that journalists should be able to fulfil their public service mission,” said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. “It is incomprehensible why the police and the authorities in general have shown a glaring lack of concrete support for journalists and media staff”.

The IFJ is calling on the OSCE, NATO and the UN to provide concrete assistance to guarantee the security of journalists in Kosovo, particularly taking into account increased levels of ethnic unrest and possible violence following the resignation of Haradinaj.

The IFJ is supporting its affiliate the Association of Professional Journalists of Kosova (APJK) in their calls for government action and have also reported several attacks on journalists over the course of the last three weeks.

Close to ten days ago, Shpetim Jaha an editor working for Top Illiria radio station was threatened and intimidated by anonymous callers. Three weeks ago, security guards blocked journalist Izedin Krasniqi of Koha Ditore newspaper from access to the premises of the Municipality of Mitrovica.

“Journalists must not be intimidated and unable to give vital information on major political events to the public,” said White. “The authorities in Kosovo must take immediate actions to assume their responsibilities and provide an adequate level of protection against these threats”.

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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries