On the occasion of 3rd May – the World Press Freedom Day, the Protector of Citizens Zoran Pašalić stated that journalists in Serbia are most often exposed to economic and legal pressures, as well as verbal, and in some cases physical attacks, and stated that he initiated legal changes that would make insults and attacks on journalists in public space punishable not only as a criminal act, but also a misdemeanour.
"Journalists are most exposed to economic pressures, i.e., economic uncertainty, caused by low monthly incomes and unregulated employment status. The economic pressures have been further intensified by strategic actions against public participation, better known as SLAPP lawsuits, which further intimidate journalists and the media and further deplete them economically, through high compensation claims", Pašalić said.
Considering that numerous pressures and attacks on journalists do not fall into the domain of criminal acts and that it is necessary to provide legal protection for media workers, Pašalić states that he initiated amendments to the Law on Public Peace and Order, which would sanction insults against journalists on social networks as a misdemeanour.
"These amendments refer to the definition of offenses committed against persons who perform journalistic work, as well as to the sanctioning of undesirable behaviour towards other citizens on social networks. Proposals for the amendments were submitted to the Working Group for the Security and Protection of Journalists of the Government of Serbia, which the Protector of Citizens is a member of", said Pašalić.
Pašalić reminds that economic pressures on journalists are a special part of the unique database on attacks and pressures on journalists prepared by the Protector of Citizens in cooperation with ten journalists' associations, unions and trade unions.