Ombudsman says Serbia still has not achieved media freedom

Free, independent and objective media are an indispensable and irreplaceable basis of a society that aspires to be democratic.

Acting Ombudsman Milos Jankovic stated this on Tuesday, ahead of World Press Freedom Day.

As B92 reported, He stressed that despite the proclaimed and through laws and international laws guaranteed freedom of the media, Serbia is still not a "free word society."

The ombudsman, as he says, recognizes this also when it comes to himself, considering that "a large number of media outlets are not only completely closed to the institution, but are continuously undermining it with frequent attacks and labeling, abusing in this way the national frequencies they received."

Also, owners of certain media, ignoring the constitutionally mandated role of the protector of citizens, directly attack him with the clear objective of discrediting him.

The pressure on the media, warns the ombudsman, is obvious and visible in a variety of ways, including in direct attacks on journalists.

A statement carried by Beta recalls that during last year, the Independent Association of Journalists of Serbia (NUNS) recorded 69 attacks on journalists, while in the first four months of this year alone there have been almost 30, including two physical attacks and eight verbal threats.

"The poor economic situation of journalists, recognizable by their low and irregular income, unfavorable and bad contracts, black market labor and poor job offerings, along with financial and political dependence of the media, have lead to censorship and self-censorship becoming the main editors of the Serbian media, while high professional ethics have moved to the level of individual cases," the statement said.

The ombudsman recalls that he repeatedly warned of the stifling of media freedoms, threats against journalists, censorship and self-censorship, and therefore calls on the public, especially holders of political and public offices to refrain from all forms of pressure and influence on the media, editors, editorial policy and journalists, and on the media to foster and develop the principle of responsible, impartial and truthful journalism.