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Television station editor receives death threat from local officials

(ANEM/IFEX) - The following in an ANEM press release:

ANEM STRONGLY CONDEMNS PRESSURE ON EMPLOYEES OF RTV KURSUMLIJA

Belgrade, Serbia, November 21st, 2008. - The Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM) strongly protests against the serious threats received by Slavko Savic and Cedomir Savic, the editor and director of the Kursumlija-based RTV Kursumlija, an ANEM member. ANEM believes the threats constitute illegitimate and unacceptable pressure on the editorial policy of this media outlet.

RTV Kursumlija announced that on Thursday, November 20, after 9.00 pm, the vice president of the Municipality of Kursumlija, Dejan Milosevic, and the vice president of the local Assembly, Branislav Jovanovic, together with five army reservists, entered the premises of the TV station because they were dissatisfied with RTV Kursumlija's reporting about a protest by army reservists. As RTV Kursumlija announced, Milosevic and Jovanovic were specifically discontented with a statement made by Halid Gasic, a volunteer who supported the army reservists' protest, regarding money collected by the army reservists as a voluntary contribution.

RTV Kursumlija's announcement further stated that Milosevic and Jovanovic were yelling and, after throwing a telephone at a sound mixer, threatened to murder the editor, Slavko Savic, and members of his family if their names are ever mentioned again in the TV station's reporting. After twenty minutes, Milosevic and Jovanovic left the RTV Kursumlija premises and the police were called to investigate. The public prosecutor's office in Kursumlija was also informed about the incident.

ANEM points out that the Law on Public Information stipulates that no one is allowed to exert any physical or other form of pressure on public media outlets and their employees, nor any other kind of influence with the aim to obstruct their activities. ANEM also points out that public media outlets freely publish ideas, information and opinions about phenomena, events and persons in which there exists a justifiable interest of the public. Information about the army reservists' protest caused by unpaid wages, especially in Kursumlija, which was one of the centers of the protest, is without a doubt the kind of information that is of justifiable interest to the public.

The threat made by the local officials and their prohibition on mentioning their names in RTV Kursumlija's reporting prevents the citizens of this municipality from being informed about the work of their local government. This threat also constitutes a violation of the obligation of local government institutions and local officials to make information on their work available to the public under equal conditions for all journalists and public media outlets.

ANEM expresses its full solidarity with its colleagues from RTV Kursumlija, and demands that the authorities investigate the threats as well as implement appropriate protective measures to ensure that RTV Kursumlija journalists and employees are free to inform the public about issues of public interest without fear for their safety and the safety of their families.

ANEM ( http://www.anem.rs ) is an independent, non-governmental, non-profit organisation, with a network of over 100 independent media outlets throughout Serbia, dedicated to promotion and protection of media freedoms and strengthening of the position of professional broadcast media.

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