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Serbian journalists attacked while covering local election in Odzaci

The Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM) strongly protests attacks on teams of journalists affiliated with television stations TV B92 and TV Prva – both members of ANEM – that took place while they were reporting on incidents that occurred during a local election held in Odzaci on Sunday, 15 December.

Jovana Stetin and Dejan Goljevac (from TV B92), as well as Biljana Gavric and Lazar Vukadinovic (from TV Prva), were attacked near the polling place in Backi Gracac. The television crews came to the polling place after it had been reported that voting in Gracac was suspended after a fight between political party activists. Journalists were protected by the police from direct physical attacks near the polling place. However, the police also advised the journalists to leave the location since they could not guarantee their safety in the case of potential new attacks.

ANEM points out that reporting on the electoral process is one of the most sensitive tasks of the media, and that the media in Serbia has been accused for years – during each electoral cycle – of being biased and favoring one political option over the other. What is particular about the attack that took place in Odzaci is the fact that the attackers tried to prevent the media from even reporting on suspended voting at one of the polling places.

The electoral process in a democratic society cannot be realized without creating conditions for the media to report on such process without any hindrances, and for the citizens to receive all relevant information about the process which constitutes the very essence and basis of democracy. Any attacks on journalists who report on elections, and especially physical attacks of such intensity that even the police cannot guarantee protection from them, are impermissible in the democratic society that Serbia aspires to be. ANEM calls on everyone who supports the democratization of Serbia to strongly condemn the incident and to express their solidarity with journalists and the media who have found themselves under attack.

ANEM demands that the authorities investigate all circumstances of the attack on television crews in Backi Gracac and prosecute the perpetrators, so that such incidents would not happen again.

ANEM President,
Milorad Tadic

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