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Bosnia: Warnings made about media freedom

Bosnia: Warnings made about media freedom

Politicians in Bosnia have increased pressure on the country's media by denying them access to information and trying to influence editorial policy, the country's international administrator said Friday.
The official, Austrian diplomat Valentin Inzko, said in a statement that such "attempts to curtail the ability of media to report freely, accurately and fairly" are not acceptable in a democratic society aspiring to join the European Union.
Borka Rudic, the head of the Bosnian journalist association, also told The Associated Press that in the last three months 18 attacks on journalists were recorded. She said that "is scary," given that there were only 40 such attacks all last year.
"I'm concerned it will get worse as we are approaching elections. State institutions are not sanctioning the attackers who are often ministers, prime ministers, police officials or parliamentarians," she said.
The association has begun receiving reports of attacks on journalists critical of the government by colleagues loyal to the regime, and that could lead ordinary citizens to attack journalists they don't like, Rudic said.
Pressure on Bosnia's media _ mainly TV stations and newspapers _ often increases ahead of elections, and the next one is scheduled in October. During campaigns, politicians often become increasingly nationalistic and use inflammatory language. Examples of such pressure on the media have included government aid to financially troubled companies and physical threats.
Since Bosnia's 1992-95 war involving the country's Muslim Bosniaks, Catholic Croats and Christian Orthodox Serbs, the country has been divided in two ministates _ one for the Serbs, the other shared by Bosniaks and Croats. Bosniaks and Croats want to unify the country, while the Serbs prefer to keep it divided. This dispute usually gains momentum ahead of elections when candidates seek to use the media to play with national sentiments.
Recently, Milorad Dodik, the prime minister of the Serb ministate, officially banned everyone in his regional government and Serb representatives in the federal government from speaking to the public TV station of the Bosniak-Croat ministate.
He said he did that because it is a "biased, unprofessional and enemy station." The TV station previously reported allegations of his involvement in corruption.
It also is believed that some Bosnian Serb media outlets and TV stations are serving as Dodik's mouthpiece since he granted them loans.
The situation is similar in the Bosniak-Croat ministate.
The owner of the main newspaper there announced last year that he is running for election, which began reflecting itself in the paper's editorial policy. It began heavily criticizing everyone in power and using inappropriate language when talking about leaders of rival parties.
This is why officials of the main Bosniak Party of Democratic Action have stopped returning telephone calls and in any other way communicating with the paper because it was portraying the current government as "criminal."


Updated : 2020-12-02 00:24 GMT+08:00