SafeJournalists network, MFRR partners, and Coalition for Media Freedom condemn continuing pressures and attacks on journalists in Serbia

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The SafeJournalists network, Media Freedom Rapid Response partners, and Coalition for Media Freedom condemn the ongoing attacks on journalists in Serbia. This growing pressure has been recently exemplified by a physical attack on journalist Vuk Cvijić, and the demand for prison sentences for the journalists of the media outlets KRIK and Pištaljka. We call on the authorities to prioritise addressing the rise in attacks against the press and to genuinely commit to improving the safety of journalists.


Radar weekly journalist Vuk Cvijić was attacked on 29 May in Belgrade by Milan Lađević, co-owner of the publisher of the pro-government tabloid Srpski telegraf. The police documented the incident and the chief public prosecutor of the Higher Public Prosecutor’s Office in Belgrade, Nenad Stefanović, ordered the First Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office to investigate and establish all the circumstances of this case.


Cvijić told the media that Lađević was sitting in a cafe with an acquaintance of his whom Cvijić approached to greet, after which the journalist was first verbally and then physically attacked. Lađević began insulting the journalist and eventually hit him in the head.


In addition to threats and physical attacks on journalists, vexatious lawsuits are becoming more frequent, and prosecutors are also seeking jail sentences for journalists.


The journalists of the KRIK portal were sued by the judge of the Appellate Court in Belgrade, Dušanka Đorđević, in response in response to the publication of the “Judge Who Judges” database, in which KRIK journalists monitor/register the work of the judiciary. Among the judges’ activities monitored/mentioned by/in the database, also those of Đorđević’s. In addition to financial compensation, Judge Đorđević is seeking prison sentences for the journalists and a two-year suspension from practising the profession.  In the lawsuits filed on 13 May and 15 May, judge Đorđević claims that journalists violated her privacy by publishing her name and position in the Court of Appeal in Belgrade, along with details about the real estate she owns with her husband She further asserts that KRIK journalists have endangered her safety and are helping criminals in locating her.


“Perhaps this is the biggest pressure on KRIK so far, but these lawsuits indirectly threaten all other media in Serbia. A high-ranking judge is suing us and claims that we were not even allowed to publish her name, so we are now put in a position to defend not only our work in court but also the legal right of journalists to write about those who exercise power”, said the editor of KRIK Stevan Dojčinović.


Pištaljka journalist Snežana Đurić was also sued for her work. She was sued by the general secretary of the Rowing Association of Serbia, Vladimir Antić, following an article  about irregularities in the management of the Association, which were pointed out by a whistleblower. In the lawsuit received by the court on 26 April, Antić also demanded a prison sentence for the journalist due to the fact that his photo was published along with the text, which was downloaded and signed from the official website of the Rowing Association of Serbia. In addition to imprisonment for the criminal offense of “unauthorized publication and display of other people’s files, portraits and videos”, the lawsuit also demands that the journalist be criminally convicted for insult and pay a fine, as well as compensation for “suffered mental pain due to the violation of honor and reputation’’.


The Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia has long warned  that the growing hostility against independent journalists creates a dangerous working environment. They have emphasised that physical attacks, such as the one directed at Cvijić, were only a matter of time.


We urge the competent institutions to investigate the aggression suffered by Cvijić  as well as other unsolved attacks on journalists in a prompt, independent and effective manner. The chain of impunity for violence against journalists must be broken. In addition, we call on Serbian institutions to start thorough investigations into legal threats and develop effective measures against vexatious lawsuits, building on the EU Directive and the CoE Recommendation on SLAPPs.



SafeJournalists Network: 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


The Coalition for Media Freedom: the Association of Media, the Association of Online Media (AOM), the Independent Association of Journalists of Vojvodina (NDNV), the Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia (NUNS), the Business Association of Local and Independent Media “Local Press”, the Slavko Curuvija Foundation and Branch Trade Union of Culture, Arts and Media ‘Nezavisnost’ 


Media Freedom Rapid Response: The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), OBC Transeuropa (OBCT), Free Press Unlimited (FPU), Article 19


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