Statement on threats against journalists and media freedom in BiH

“Journalists must be able to perform their work free from threat in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Threats against journalists, being off-line or on-line, as in the most recent case of a death threat against a journalist in Banja Luka and earlier in Sarajevo, are a real cause for concern.

The EU strongly condemns all threats against journalists and media freedom, and urges the law enforcement agencies in BiH to fully investigate such cases to ensure safe working conditions for all journalists.

Fact-based public debates are essential for any democratic society. Journalists are carrying out a very essential task in democracies. While doing that, they need the protection of the authorities. Any threat or attack on a journalist is an attack too many and must be investigated speedily as it may impact the entire profession and, consequently, the society as a whole.

As part of the process of issuing an EC Opinion on the BiH application for the EU membership, the EU will be looking for facts, including how BiH institutions deal with hate speech, attacks, threats and incitement to violence both off-line and on-line.

Freedom of expression, freedom of media and safety of journalists are major priorities for the European Union and, as part of the Copenhagen political criteria, a key aspect of the EU integration process of the Western Balkans countries, including Bosnia and Herzegovina. We are closely monitoring these issues in assessing BiH’ readiness to move closer to the EU. We expect full support from people in positions of responsibility in achieving these policy priorities.”