The Council of Europe (CoE) said in its Safety of Journalists platform 2023 report Serbia is among the countries with the highest number of cases of harassment and intimidation against journalists.
The report warned that Serbian journalists are increasingly being sued for defamation and singled out the lawsuit brought by former Internal Affairs Ministry (MUP) State Secretary Dijana Hrkalovic, who is on trial for alleged influence peddling, against the Crime & Corruption Reporting Network (KRIK) and its editor, Stevan Dojčinovic.
The report said that OSCE ODIHR observers criticized the Serbian public broadcasters for showing bias in favor of the ruling coalition prior to and during the April 2022 parliamentary elections.
European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) President Maja Sever told N1 that the report showed an increase in the number of attacks against journalists. “Serbia ranks high in that, 6th on the list,” she said adding that 15 serious attacks were recorded in the country. “My impression is, and the data shows the same, that the crisis and the pandemic worsened the safety of journalists,” she added.
“Your news desk has been exposed to numerous threats and we reported the many threats against N1 journalists,” Sever said.
She singled out the case of podcast author Marko Vidojkovic who was forced to relocate out of Serbia following threats. “And you want to know if I’m worried? A man had to leave his country over a podcast and his work in the media. That is unfortunately another example in a series of bad examples,” Sever said.