SARAJEVO -- Dozens of journalists have marched through Bosnia-Herzegovina's capital to protest violence against media workers, after suspected soccer fans broke into a radio station in Sarajevo and forced staff to withdraw a news item from its website.
Some 100 protesters gathered on September 30 outside the offices of the FK Sarajevo soccer club and then marched through the city center, demanding better protection and tougher penalties for attacks on the press.
Being a journalist in Bosnia is "very hard" and "is getting harder every year," said Faruk Vele, a member of the editorial board of the Radiosarajevo.ba news portal.
Vele said the country's institutions were failing to protect journalists from attacks.
Police have detained two people over the September 27 incident when assailants who said they were soccer fans threatened the staff of Radio Sarajevo until they removed the news that a Sarajevo fan had received five years in prison in Belarus for cocaine possession.
Describing the incident as "an actual hostage situation," Radio Sarajevo said that faced with death threats, the editor was forced to remove the news item.
FK Sarajevo has condemned the incident.
In a joint statement on September 30, the OSCE representative on freedom of the media, Harlem Desir, and the head of the OSCE mission to Bosnia, Kathleen Kavalec, called on the authorities to better protect journalists.
"Safety of journalists is one of the most important prerequisites of media freedom, which is a key pillar of our democratic systems," Desir said.
Kavalec pointed out that the number of attacks on journalists so far this year "seems to have reached an alarming level."
Earlier, the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo said the "outrageous attack" on Radio Sarajevo was "unacceptable,"
"We strongly defend the right of journalists to report the news without the fear of reprisal. When journalists are silenced, society suffers," it tweeted.
Bosnia is ranked in 63rd out of 180 countries in the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders' 2019 World Press Freedom Index.