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Media freedom under threat in the Western Balkans

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(Brussels, July 15, 2015) – Journalists in the Western Balkans work in a hostile environment that directly affects their ability to produce critical and independent reporting, essential to a democratic society. The authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia should take immediate steps to create safe working conditions for media and end impunity for crimes committed against journalists.

Authorities in Western Balkan countries have an obligation to protect journalists and create a safe environment in which they can freely report without government interference. This is particularly crucial in a fragile region like the Western Balkans, with its recent history of violent wars in which authorities have used the media as a propaganda tool. Although much has changed, the media atmosphere in many parts of the Western Balkans is still characterized by danger and hostility rather than improving as part of the region’s democratic development.

The four Western Balkan countries are at different stages of accession negotiations. To become a member of the EU, countries must meet certain membership criteria, including respect for freedom of expression.

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