5 October 1998


Serbian officials threaten media

Incident details


(CPJ/IFEX) - CPJ is deeply troubled by two recent events: Serbian officials'
threats of retaliation against independent journalists, and the Yugoslav
government's denial of visas to international participants of a conference
on independent broadcasting, an action that forced the conference's

**This alert contains a new case and updates IFEX alerts of 30 and 29
September 1998**
Top Serbian government officials and a leading pro-government legislator
used a
session of the Serbian parliament on 30 September to warn independent media
and other critics of the regime that they would be targeted for reprisal in
the event of a NATO air strike against Yugoslavia. "The Americans found
their fifth column here," charged Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav
Seselj. "It is composed of politically irrelevant parties and independent
media. We can't shoot down every NATO plane, but we can grab those agents
who are at hand," he said. Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Marjanovic accused
the independent media of spreading lies and fear, while lawmaker Zeljko
Simic charged the journalists with "high treason" for aiding Albanian
separatists by reporting on the war in Kosovo. Members of the Association of
Independent Broadcasters (ANEM) fear that the Yugoslav authorities will use
any NATO military intervention over Kosovo as an excuse to crackdown on the
independent media in the country.

In the second above-mentioned matter, the Yugoslav government refused to
issue visas to international participants of a Council of Europe-sponsored
conference on independent broadcasting that was scheduled for 2 and 3
October in Belgrade. Officials claimed they were not obligated to give entry
to foreigners invited to a private event organized by ANEM. The move forced
ANEM to postpone the conference, and prompted Council of Europe Chairman
Giorgos Papandreou to cancel his trip to Belgrade to preside over the event
(see IFEX alerts).

Recommended Action

Send appeals to President Slobodan Milosevic:

  • protesting the Serbian officials' threats against independent journalists
    in Yugoslavia, as well as the government's deliberate interference in their
  • reminding him that these acts violate all international norms of free
    expression and press freedom, especially the provisions of the Universal
    Declaration of Human Rights that guarantee the rights of journalists to
    freely and safely practice their profession
  • expressing the belief that these tactics only serve to further isolate his
    government internationally, in the face of his professed desire to join the
    Council of Europe
  • reminding him of his pledges to ensure the safety of journalists and
    respect the rights of independent media to work without government

    Appeals To

    His Excellency Slobodan Milosevic
    President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
    Fax: +381 11 656 862

    Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

  • Source

    Committee to Protect Journalists
    330 7th Ave., 11th Floor
    New York, NY 10001
    info (@) cpj.org
    Fax:+1 212 4659568

    IFEX members working in this country 1

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