In the area of freedom of speech and expression, Serbia marked no progress, on the contrary - we witnessed numerous rights violations and press freedom endangerment. On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, 3 May, Mr. Zoran Pašalić, the Protector of Citizens, stated that this year, in a state of emergency and at a time of unprecedented health crisis, we would face new, even more difficult challenges in safeguarding the freedom of the press and professional journalism.
Over the years, the Protector of Citizens has been drawing attention to various pressures to which journalists have been exposed in their work, ranging from difficult financial situation and unfavorable employment contracts to frequent verbal and physical attacks, discrimination and discrediting, threats and putting their safety into danger. Also, over previous month and a half during the state of emergency, the media have been exposed to additional pressures. At a time when journalists are urged to report objectively and timely on coronavirus, they work in particularly exacerbated circumstances, such as difficult access to information, exposure to insults, sexist and discriminatory attacks on social networks, as well as the fear of possible consequences for the written word.
The Protector of Citizens urges all stakeholders in public space to allow journalists’ unhindered work, without discrimination and labeling, without hate speech and intimidation, and adds that media freedom is one of the key tenets of any democratic society, which must not be jeopardized or restricted. Without a regulated position and adequate salaries, there is no free journalism and this activity, with all the praise, cannot be left to enthusiasts, because it is too serious and important for the citizens, emphasized Mr. Pašalić.
I expect from the competent authorities, and the entire society in Serbia to abide by the Law, to respect press freedom. In addition, I expect that all the media, those with national coverage as well as those with local coverage, will be equally provided with access to information that is important for timely and factual informing of citizens on all topics of public importance, said Zoran Pašalić.