AJM: Journalists in Macedonia work in unsafe conditions

As journalists in Macedonia are doing their job in unsafe conditions, subjected to beatings, kidnappings and insults, institutions have failed to fine not a single assailant, shows the 2017 report on freedom of the media and safety of the journalists in Macedonia.

At Monday’s presentation of the report, Naser Selmani, president of the Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM), said a total of 18 attacks on journalists had been reported last year, including 13 physical and verbal attacks with the remaining involving defamation, obstruction of work, and damage to properties of journalists.

“Aside from the political will of the government and the readiness of the new interior minister to cooperate with us in investigating all cases of attacks on journalists, no other positive development has been detected. One can say that there is an improvement in how media have been covering events. Another positive signal is the end of the economic pressure from the government,” stated Selmani.

Police, he added, have somewhat improved in investigating and identifying attackers. Despite charges being filed, some cases get stuck in the public prosecution office, resulting in no assailant being brought before justice.

Selmani called the attacks on journalists during the storming of Parliament on 27 April 2017 as being ‘the most brutal physical assault.’ The public prosecution, he said, has formed a case, the identities of perpetrators have been established, however none of them have been brought before court.

“It gives a real picture about the extent of concern of the new government. If it wants to send a clear message that freedom of expression and media matters to the government, the first thing it needs to do is to start punishing assailants who attack journalists. Without it, we cannot claim that the new government is seriously interested in improving freedom of the media,” Selmani stressed.

The report notes that the journalists in Macedonia are ‘badly paid’ sometimes on irregular basis and in some cases without contracts for indefinite employment.

The report has been prepared with funds provided by the EU as part of the Western Balkans Regional Platform for advocating media freedom and journalists’ safety.