Un'interessante panoramica sui media in Republika Srpska e un resoconto dei maltrattamenti inflitti ai giornalisti indipendenti. Testo in inglese.

14/11/2001 -  Anonymous User

The dark

"Hello old man. How are you? -Leave me alone. I am going home from visiting my children and I am thinking about what to do. Should I kill myself or somebody else"- two pensioners talked in the bus. "Can you imagine, the postman brought my pension this morning," said the other. "I couldn't wait anymore. I had to cut my hair , no big deal. I paid for the water, electricity, telephone, communals, the dustman, and the monthly ticket for the bus. I paid all of that and I ran into my son. He invited me for lunch and I went with him. And there is a problem. You know that I worked 40 years and that I have a full pension. When I paid everything I had 10 marks left. When I arrived at my son's place, I said Hello to my granddaughter and grandson. We had lunch together and my grandson said that he heard that I got my pension today. "Give me 10 marks so I can go to the theatre with my friends. Dad doesn't have any money. He constantly says that his salary is 6 months late." I gave him 10 marks and had nothing to give to my granddaughter. So now I am thinking to handle things in my own way. I will put my gun into my pocket and if I see the prime minister I'll take it out and kill him. I will save people from troubles and provide for myself an apartment and food for the rest of my life". The other passengers quietly listened to this conversation and probably agreed with this old man. If he will really do that we don't know , but we know for sure that if that happens the poor man would be on the front page of every foreign newspaper and in every documentary. If you take a look at those programs and front pages, it is very clear that very few lines are dedicated to politics and the bad work of the people on top, the ones who create politics. Why is it so? One of the strongest reasons is fear among journalists. Whoever started to dig the hill called crime and corruption found an obstacle. Only in one brief moment was the Republic of Srpska near the civilized world in which text was answered with text, and argument with contra argument.

Hit the fists

The Act about information, a tribute to free journalism, first had to pay in benign form with the prohibition of Banja Luka's, Reporter, on the territory of Serbia. Reporter was , thanks to the court from Sremska Mitrovica's decision, prohibited from distributing their reports because of a few texts about the Belgrade regime and Slobodan Milosevic. Reporter's distributors were arrested on the boarder with Serbia , where all printings were plundered and the journalists kept for a few hours. Reporter last year sued the president of the government, Milorad Dodik, because of the false statements made by the prime minister for Belgrade's Blic. But the process in court has not moved a bit since then. The fact that the threats to Reporter's journalists have gone too far is exemplified by the female journalists who were threatened by high school professors after texts about national discrimination in Banja Luka's high schools were printed. Not to mention the phone calls to family members and threats with bombs after the texts about men from Prijedor accused for war crimes were also printed.

The number of anonymous or public threats to journalists or broadcast houses in March last year doubled compared to summer and autumn 1999, and in May and June increased 4 times. These were the facts reported by the Helsinki committee for Human Rights in BIH (SCH BIH), which in its third year analyzed the position of BIH media and journalists. The OSCE formed, in November last year, a telephone help line for journalists, and until now 95 journalists from BIH appeared (63 from Federation and 32 from RS). In 30 cases there were direct threats and in 11 cases the journalists were physically attacked. The tragic culmination of those attacks was the assault on the owner, director and main editor of "Nezavisne novine" and "NES radio", Banja Luka Zeljko Kopanja , after which his legs were amputated. That monstrous attack came after a series of headlines in "Nezavisne novine" about financial and other abuses of the rulers in RS . It was believed that the anger of Serbian ultra nationalists was sparked by the lines of text, in which for the first time in that entity, a file was opened about Serbian crimes in this war . The obvious intention was to silence Kopanja with a car bomb , and also to frighten other media and journalists in RS and BIH. The Serbian Radical Party six months before the attack on Kopanja forbade the presence of his journalists at their press conferences. The general secretary of this party, Ognjen Tadic, explained that these journalists wrote lies and untruths from these conferences. Kopanja's murder attempt was preceded by letters and blackmail, threatening him and members of his family. Fifteen days before the assault he was asked to pay 50 000 DEM for his family's safety. It is important to mention that his wife and son avoided the explosion in which only Kopanja suffered. Most of the cases are still unsolved like this one.

Another similar case is the attack on two journalists from Rijeka's "Novi list" Robert Frank and Ronald Brmalj, who were kidnapped after their arrival to west Mostar from the unknown kidnappers. One of them had his right fist cracked so he couldn't write anymore. IPTF suspected that the attackers could be local police officers. It could be said that the journalists were encouraged to talk about what happened to them. " The majority of attackers on journalists and media houses are still out of the range of justice and law , and in rare cases have the police shown an interest to act", mentioned the report SHC BIH. The OSCE had, in its "media help-line," identified consistent geographic models for pressure on journalists: in RS they took the shape of direct threats and physical abuse, and in FBIH they were more subtle and most of the time they included the misuse of authority, for example, taxes. The tragic culmination was the attack on Zeljko Kopanja . But even against him was initiated a trial procedure by Vitomir Popovic, a judge in the Supreme court BIH. The case has not been finished yet .

In yet other cases, a journalist from Milici, Mladen Mimic, the editor of local newspaper in this city, was punished by the court last year with 330 marks, because of allegoric stories about Milici in which people near the front man, "Boksit" Rajko Dukic, recognized themselves. Zoran Sarenac, the editor of Radio- magic from Milici, and one of the first members of the Democratic party in that community , was 4 times a hero in the court in Vlasenica in the last three years. It was mostly because of a disagreement with Dukic, whom Sarenac said paid the court. Sarenac was punished three times with money and once with parole. At the last verdict, because of a misunderstanding of Sarenac in "Vecernje novosti", the judge brought a decision according to only one witness. In the meantime Dukic abandoned the trial, because of the texts published in tabloid "Prst", which considered his business engagements. It was not new news - the lines which Sarenac read in every edition of "Prst" had not been written by him. "Prst" had a tradition to sign their texts with names of journalists from other houses. Two years ago, the journalist Mirjana Micic was sentenced to five months in prison for slander of the businessman Dragomir Vasic, because she wrote in Extra magazine about something that was not checked. An accusation against the editor of this tabloid from Bijeljina Jovica Petkovic was raised by the Rajko Dukic- TV Zvornik. A cameraman from Banja Luka 's Alternative television was beaten while he was recording the devastation of the British consulate in Banja Luka during the bombing in Serbia. The frightening of a member for public informing in RS resulted in a threat to the ex minister for information in RS government, Rajko Vasic. Somebody set a fire in his empty car. The vice president of the Serbian Radical Party, Mirko Blagojevic, at one meeting accused Vasic of "doing the crime over Serbian people" and that he was sentenced to death by the side of the people. In Doboj in the middle of 1999, the ex governor, Mirko Stojcinovic, physically attacked the journalist from Beta agency Milan Srdic. The reason was because of a show on RTV BIH about corruption in Doboj in which Srdic was signed as one of Editors. He declared that the show was falsified. Boro Bosic, the former co-president of Council of ministries and SDS member, and director of Electricity Supply in Ugljevik , disconnected the electricity at the first non-government TV house in Bijeljina, PIM -television. The disconnection came after PIM TV recorded the attack of Bosic on one clerk, because of depriving his rights. PIM team wanted to move to some other place but they found their space robbed and equipment damaged.

In the last 10 years the International committee for journalist's protection evidenced 458 cases of journalist killings all over the world , 134 in Europe and ex USSR, including 26 killed in Croatia and 21 in BIH. During the last year 34 killings of journalists, and 87 sentences were noted. The journalists tried a few times to state that they were unsatisfied with the situation of media freedom and they were eager to do something about that. They demanded the right to access relevant information , media, and public. This right has not been granted. There are 5 press associations in BIH which are not strong enough . In RS there exists the Independent association of journalists RS and the Association of journalists RS , as well as the Republic informing syndicate . They are no big help. Syndicate organizations are not strong enough or they are easy to manipulate by the leader. The syndicates achieve the best results by self-organizing in concrete areas. The journalists are in a very awkward situation. They are the victims of new "bosses," their plans, or, on the other hand, public pressure and problems. Their salary is usually a few months late, and averages about 300 marks. There are some publishing houses which are an exception. But the problem with self-organizing can be found in their unprofessionality. Certain media are full of people who have nothing to do with journalism , because they are usually the members of families who have certain positions within the media. In an analysis done by the Helsinki committee two months ago, it was stated that there were no clear effects since the publishing of the Act about accessibility of information.The public organs and institutions have not created a mechanism for the delivering of information. Monitors from the Helsinki committee commented about the difficult position of local sources. Independent media are smothered. They are warning about the low professional level, not only in local media, concerning the lack of adherence to rules about not stating the name and surname of underage persons in delicate situations or people who are subject to police investigation, and proclamations of guilt before court verdicts.

Privatization should bring an equal fight in the market and establish a high quality of media. But when will it start? No one knows what will happen to certain media houses. They will probably remain the property of the country , and the country will control the masses. There are some public media in RS which are coming closer to the criteria of objective standards, and may have even reached them already. Their performance has had an extraordinary effect in conducting the Dayton agreement and the total democratic transformation of country. On the other side there are media who obstruct the peace process and democratization. Therefore, it is necessary to quicken the process of total reformation of the media system in BIH, which is not possible without peace missions in BIH and international institutions outside of BIH. Planned engagement of donors is necessary if we want to protect the truth and to develop real values in the sphere of public communication.

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