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IFJ condemns television call for violence against journalists

(IFJ/IFEX) - 19 May 2010 - The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the European group of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), today accused the authorities in the Republic of Macedonia of "scandalous neglect" for the safety of journalists after police and public officials failed to intervene over incitement to violence against journalists in the Republic of Macedonia.

Journalists in the country were shocked when a broadcaster issued a list of targeted journalists, accusing them of being traitors and called for their "liquidation". But despite protests over hate-speech and the threats posed to the named journalists, the authorities have yet to react, says the Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM).

"If this was satire, or comedy it would hardly be laughable, but this is a deadly serious call on people to commit violence against journalists," said Aidan White, EFJ General Secretary. "The authorities have a duty of care and must act against such hate speech. Journalists must never incite acts of violence. Those responsible should be made accountable to the law."

The controversy erupted after Milenko Nedelkovski, a television presenter on Kanal 5, issued a list of "traitor" journalists in the last week and openly called for their physical elimination. According to him, some journalists should be liquidated because they do not share his opinions.

The AJM, an IFJ affiliate in the country, lodged an official complaint against Nedelkovski and asked the authorities to take all the necessary legal measures and to defend the physical, moral and professional integrity of the threatened journalists. But no action has taken place so far.

"These events must be a lesson and one last reminder to all public and political actors in Macedonia that they must take their role in the society seriously. It is urgent for freedom of speech, thought and expression to become the fundamental values of our society again," declared the AJM in a statement.

The EFJ is supporting the AJM protest and is calling on Macedonian authorities to act promptly and firmly against those guilty of incitement to violence in media. "It is clear that we need a new debate within media and journalism and civil society on the need for tolerance in journalism and for independent, ethical and quality media," said White.

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