Jasminka Džumhur of the Bosnian Human Rights Ombudsman office said that the media freedoms in the country are on decline, according to the office’s report on cases of threats to journalists in Bosnia, presented in Sarajevo.
Džumhur and the other two members of the Ombudsman office, Nives Jukić and Ljubinko Mitrović, as well as the Head of Information Department at the OSCE Mission to Bosnia, Željka Šulc, presented the report. Džumhur said that Bosnia ranks 65th on a list of 180 countries when it comes to media freedoms and safety of journalists. In 2006, Bosnia ranked 19th.
She said that the issue of economic and social rights of Bosnian journalists, as well as the the right to safety, was not handled adequately as violence, harassment and intimidation of journalists are common occurrences.
“Attacks on journalists are attacks on democracy,” Džumhur said.
The Ombudsman office inquired with prosecutors at different levels about the cases of violence against journalists. The responses were classified in three groups.
“One group of prosecutors said they did not keep records on particular profession of the injured party, which is why they could not say how many (cases involving) journalists they had. Another group of prosecutors said they didn’t have cases (involving journalists). The third group provided full information,” Džumhur said.
She emphasized that the Bosnian media workers are very concerned about the initiatives to amend the law on free access to information because that piece of legislation is currently the only instrument that the media can use to ensure access to information.