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INTERNATIONAL PRESS FREEDOM CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED IN SERBIA

On 30 March 2000, freedom of expression groups, journalists, publishers and broadcasters launched the international campaign "Prime Time for Freedom" for the defence of independent media and free journalism in Serbia, announced the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM).

A number of IFEX members are participating in the campaign. The campaign is a response to the deepening media crisis in the country, says Veran Matic of ANEM and Serbia's B2-92 radio station. IFJ's General Secretary Aidan White states that "the government is using all forms of quasi-legal and economic sanctions to silence independent voices. A hysterical campaign of vilification has been launched against the independent press."

In particular, this campaign will assist media who continue to be targeted by Slobodan Milosevic's government through "a practical programme of solidarity in defence of media." The programme will seek to repeal draconian media laws that persist in Serbia and to replace them with a legal framework that complies with international standards of media freedom.

The project also establishes a media assistance fund, which provides resources to independent press; a solidarity fund, which assists media workers who have been targeted by authorities; and a special legal aid fund, which supports media workers facing legal battles. The organisers are still seeking donations to go towards each of these funds.

For further information or to contribute to these funds, please contact Sarah de Jong at the IFJ, Rue Royale, 266, B-1210 Brussels, Belgium; Tel: +322 223 2265 / 219 7780; Fax: +322 219 2976; E-mail:
ifj.safety@pophost.eunet.be; Internet:
http://www.ifj.org/.

Meanwhile, ANEM reports that one of the campaigning organisations, the Independent Association of Serbian Journalists, has launched the first issue of "The Repression Files", a new periodical which addresses media repression, resistance and the violation of the public right to free information in Serbia. The first issue lists all of the cases in which media were fined under the Public Information Act since its proclamation in October 1998.

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