Attack on Banja Luka Journalist Draws Criticism

The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights condemned in a Facebook post the assault on journalist Vladimir Kovačević in Banja Luka.

“I am profoundly shocked by the violent assault on Vladimir Kovačević, a journalist working for BN TV in Banja Luka,” Commissioner Dunja Mijatović said.

“This is the latest of several alarming attacks against journalists and media actors in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I express my solidarity to him and all other journalists under attack in the country. At the same time, I call on the authorities of Republika Srpska to identify and punish those responsible for the attack, and to step up their efforts to create a climate in which the journalists can work freely and safely. Leading politicians need to stop using inflammatory remarks, including personal insults against journalists, which can lead to self-censorship of journalists and incite violence against them,” said Commissioner Mijatović.

The European Union Delegation to Bosnia joined the condemnation and raised voice against threats and physical attacks against journalists and media freedoms in the country.

“Journalists must be able to perform their work in full safety in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Attacks on media, as in the most recent case of journalist Vladimir Kovačević, are violations of journalists’ rights, as their safety is a precondition for free speech and free media. The EU strongly condemns all threats and physical attacks 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,” the EU Delegation said.

“As part of the preparation of the Commission’s Opinion on the BiH application for the EU membership, the EU is, among other things, looking into 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’s readiness to move closer to the EU. We expect full support from all authorities in BiH in achieving these policy priorities.”

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