Accessibility links

Breaking News

Watchdog

Media freedom watchdogs have expressed concern regarding the alleged pressure authorities in Kosovo are putting on KoSSev, an online news portal based in the Serb-majority town of North Mitrovica.

Media freedom watchdogs have expressed concern regarding the alleged pressure authorities in Kosovo are putting on KoSSev, an online news portal based in the Serb-majority town of North Mitrovica.

Journalists play a “key role” in the coronavirus crisis by providing “vital information” to the public, the representative on media freedom for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Harlem Desir, said in a statement on April 12, citing two recent incidents involving KoSSev.

“Access to information and a free working environment are therefore essential and need to be ensured at all times,” Desir added.

On April 11, KoSSev’s editor in chief Tatjana Lazarevic was briefly arrested for allegedly violating a curfew announced by the authorities to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the Balkan country.

Lazarevic was on her way to a medical center treating patients affected by COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and presented her press credentials, but police took her in for questioning, according to the journalist.

Lazarevic now reportedly faces criminal proceedings, although working journalists are supposed to be exempt from the curfew.

The European Center for Press and Media Freedom on April 11 condemned Lazarevic’s arrest, saying journalists “must be able to continue working, even during the curfew.”

In another incident, the head of the Crisis Headquarters of North Mitrovica, Aleksandar Spiric, called out the news portal on April 9 for live-streaming an online press conference by officials overseeing the coronavirus outbreak.

“In particular, Spiric urged the portal not to cause instability by posing political questions, but instead to help the authorities in their fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to Desir.

The Association of Journalists of Kosovo on April 12 said that obstructing journalists’ work “is a pressure, not only on their work but also on freedom of expression.”

“This is also contrary to the constitution and Kosovo laws, as well as international conventions on human rights,” it added.

Daler Sharipov

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is calling on Tajikistan to immediately release a journalist whose trial on what the Paris-based watchdog called “absurd” extremism charges is due to kick off on April 13.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is calling on Tajikistan to immediately release a journalist whose trial on what the Paris-based watchdog called “absurd” extremism charges is due to kick off on April 13.

In a statement on April 11, RSF called Daler Sharifov’s arrest in late January, ahead of parliamentary elections in March that were won, as expected, by President Emomali Rahmon's ruling party, “a new warning by the authorities to critical journalists and media.”

Sharifov, a Dushanbe-based journalist who writes about domestic politics and religious issues, was arrested by the intelligence services on January 28.

He is facing up to five years in prison if found guilty of the charges against him -- “inciting national, racial, ethnic, or religious hatred” and “propaganda” on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been banned in Tajikistan since 2006.

Prosecutors say the case is based on “more than 200 articles and commentaries containing extremist content” that were published between 2013 and 2019.

Calling the charges “surprising,” RSF noted that Sharifov has “repeatedly criticized religious extremism and terrorism.”

Writing for the independent news website Ozodagon from 2013 until its closure last year following “years of harassment,” Sharifov often commented on violations of human rights and religious freedoms, according to the media freedom watchdog.

It said the journalist was hospitalized eight years ago after being “badly beaten in a still unpunished attack.”

Tajikistan is ranked 161st out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.

Load more

About This Blog

"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

Subscribe

Journalists In Trouble

RFE/RL journalists take risks, face threats, and make sacrifices every day in an effort to gather the news. Our "Journalists In Trouble" page recognizes their courage and conviction, and documents the high price that many have paid simply for doing their jobs. More

XS
SM
MD
LG