SafeJournalists Network strongly condemns the direct threat to the life of the founder of Civil Media, Xhabir Deralla in North Macedonia, as well as the attack on N1 television journalist Mladen Savatovic during live coverage of protests in Belgrade, Serbia.
The founder of Civil Media, Xhabir Deralla received a threat in a comment on his published column on the official Facebook page of “Nova TV Web”, where a profile named Aleksandar Antic wrote a comment: “Be visible, you nit, the bullet will hit you no matter where it is.”
Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM) reported this threat in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the appeal was addressed to the Department for Computer Crime and Digital Forensics at the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
These kinds of threats to life are crimes included in the Criminal Code in North Macedonia, for which a prison sentence is provided for the perpetrators. The Ministry of the Interior and the Public Prosecutor’s Office should immediately investigate and process them to punish those who violate the law and prevent such crimes in the future.
The journalist of the N1 television, Mladen Savatovic, was attacked on Monday during his live program. As he says, an unknown man interrupted him and threw things at him, and then physically attacked him.
“That was in the middle of a live program.” He came and stopped there. He shouted something like ‘fox, fox’ and then slowly approached. When I realized that he was going to try to jump in front of the camera or attack me in the middle of the live, I asked him ‘what exactly are you waiting for’, after which he was rude and was getting into my face. I then reacted in affect and told him that the police would find him, thinking that he would run away. However, he became even more aggressive and that’s when the citizens who were there ran to help,” Savatovic described for IJAS the event from last night. He says that there were several plainclothes police officers at the scene, but that they did not react and take actions to secure the place and investigate the case. Savatovic called the police, who showed up ten minutes after the incident, but the attacker had escaped in the meantime. The police made a note and instructed the journalist to go to the police station the next day to report the attack.
The Higher Public Prosecutor’s Office in Belgrade announced yesterday that it had opened a case due to “the existence of grounds for suspicion that the criminal offense of violent behavior at a public gathering was committed.”
“These threats are direct attacks not only on these journalists, but also on the very essence of freedom of the press and democracy in both countries. We urge the authorities to act quickly and decisively in punishing the perpetrators under national laws. We will always stand up for the safety of journalists and the fundamental right to freedom of speech. We stand in solidarity with our colleagues and resist any form of threat or violence against journalists.”, stated Dragan Sekulovski, the director of the SafeJournalists Network.
The SafeJournalists network, which represents media professionals in the Western Balkans, joins its members ZNM and IJAS in strongly condemning the threats directed at journalists, as well as the physical attack on journalist. The Network calls on the competent institutions in North Macedonia and Serbia to react immediately and to find and adequately punish the perpetrators and thus show their determination to protect media workers.
The SafeJournalists network will inform relevant national and international stakeholders about these cases.
Each attack on journalists is an attack on public interest, democracy and the rights of all citizens.
Pristina – Skopje – Sarajevo – Zagreb – Belgrade – Podgorica, 27.12.2023
Association of Journalists of Kosovo
Association of Journalists of Macedonia
BH Journalists Association
Croatian Journalists’ Association
Independent Journalists Association of Serbia
Trade Union of Media of Montenegro