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Journalist intimidated while covering traffic accident in Novi Sad, Serbia

© Frithjof Hirdes/Corbis

The Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM) strongly protests the pressures placed on a journalist from Novi Sad 'Radio 021', a member station of ANEM.

After the newsroom received information from a listener about a traffic accident in which one person was killed, the 'Radio 021' journalist went to the spot to prepare a report for his radio station and web portal, without disturbing the ongoing police investigation. He was then surrounded by three men in plain clothes who told him not to take photographs and asked for his identification documents. One of them claimed to be a policeman, but he did not show an official ID. The men then called a traffic policeman in uniform to ask the journalist to present his ID. The traffic policeman gave them the journalist's ID, which they photographed.

ANEM considers it discouraging that all of this happened less than twenty days since the adoption of new media laws in Serbia, which were expected to improve the state of media freedom in the country. ANEM asks for the police in Novi Sad to inform the public of their reasons for photographing personal documents of the journalist who was merely doing his job, and to explain which regulation stipulates such an action.

The new Law on Public Information and Media stipulates that information on events about which the public has a legitimate interest to know is published freely. It is also stipulated that the free flow of information via media must not be jeopardized, particularly not by pressuring, threatening, or blackmailing journalists. ANEM thinks that in this specific case there was no reason which could justify photographing the journalist's personal documents, and that the facts known so far point towards a dangerous intention to intimidate the journalist and influence his reporting, which is impermissible.

ANEM asks from the Ministry of Internal Affairs to publicly distance itself from the unacceptable practice of intimidation of journalists. ANEM especially asks that the ministry investigates if in this case there was an abuse of authority by officials, to inform the public on the findings, and to sanction those responsible for the incident. ANEM extends its full solidarity to the newsroom and journalists of Novi Sad 'Radio 021'.

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