2023 Report on the Activities of the Permanent Working Group for Safety of Journalists

Another year of the activity of the Permanent Working Group for the Safety of Journalists (PWG) is behind us. This year was marked by new developments in achieved results; slightly better statistics regarding the number of assaults and processed cases; greater number of implemented activities and projects, and increased visibility of PWG in the professional and general public.

A particularly important step forward was made in the communication and co-operation of the PWG with journalists and representatives of the prosecution and the police force at the local level. During 2023, PWG representatives visited Niš, Novi Sad, Čačak, Novi Pazar, Subotica and Pančevo and they met with over 100 local journalists, prosecutors and police officers and discussed current cases and the general security in the environment where media professionals work.

Since the beginning of 2023, the PWG has implemented 15 activities with the support of the OSCE Mission to Serbia (OSCE), some of which required several months of preparation (such as the study visit to Norway), while in certain cases one activity is considered to be the facilitation of 6 different incidents (such as PWG visits to local communities).

The fact that the PWG conducted on average more than one activity per month clearly shows the sincere commitment and accountability of all parties participating in this process - the Supreme Public Prosecutor's Office (SPPO), the Ministry of Interiors of the Republic of Serbia (MoI), Journalists’ Association of Serbia (UNS), Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia (NUNS), Independent Journalists’ Association of Vojvodina (NDNV), Association of Media outlets (AM), Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM) and Association of Online Media (AOM). The OSCE Mission to Serbia has also been participating in the PWG work since its establishment in January 2017 and has so far enabled the realization of more than 40 activities during the implementation of three action plans (the first for the period 2018-2019, the second for 2021-2022 and finally the third from 2023 to 2025).

It seems that the PWG's efforts to improve the safety of journalists are starting to be recognized both locally and internationally. The European Commission's latest Report on Serbia for 2023 states that the police and prosecutor's office reacted swiftly in several cases of assaults and threats against journalists, while working within the PWG. Nevertheless, the report rightly concludes that cases of threats, intimidation, hate speech and violence against journalists remain a cause for concern.

2023 Report on the Activities of the Permanent Working Group for Safety of Journalists

Source: VJT, Date: 05.03.2024.

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