REGIONS:

SUBSCRIBE:

Sign up for weekly updates

ARTICLE 19 calls for repeal or substantial amendment of Public Information Law and review of licencing procedures for radio and television stations



(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - The following is a 17 October 2000 ARTICLE 19 letter to Yugoslav President Kostunica with regard to the need to repeal or substantially amend Serbia's Public Information Law and calling upon him to review licensing procedures for radio and television stations:




17 October 2000

His Excellency Vojislav Kostunica
President of Yugoslavia
Savezna Skupstina
11000 Belgrade
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

Fax: + 381 11 636 775

Dear President Kostunica,

ARTICLE 19, the Global Campaign for Free Expression, congratulates you on your election victory and welcomes your commitment to setting the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on a new path to establishing a democratic system of government which complies with international human rights standards. We note the important role of the media in the events that led to the recognition of your democratic election as President and we welcome the immediate steps you have taken to overturn some of the human rights violations of the previous regime.

We are particularly concerned that freedom of expression, a cornerstone of democracy, should be a priority for your government; we are, therefore, extremely encouraged by the recent release from jail of the independent journalist Miroslav Filipovic. We urge you to go further in ensuring that the charge against Filipovic for espionage and spreading false information is withdrawn by the Military Prosecutor in Nis.

We encourage you urgently to address the legal framework regulating the media, which has led to the suppression of freedom of expression and the wrongful imprisonment of journalists and members of the media in Serbia over the past few years. We refer in particular to the need to repeal or substantially amend the Public Information Law which was passed by the Serbian Parliament on 20 October 1998. This draconian and repressive law was introduced in spite of widespread protests from journalists, media groups and freedom of expression organisations. ARTICLE 19 was among those who condemned the Law at the time as being incompatible with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and failing to meet international standards. We enclose a copy of the critique which was sent to Mr Milosevic in November 1998.

As you can see from our analysis, the Public Information Law fails to comply with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's obligations to protect freedom of expression under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) by placing illegitimate content restrictions on both the press and broadcast media; by establishing draconian judicial procedures to deal with the various prohibitions established in the Law; and by containing excessive privacy restrictions allowing public figures such as politicians and members of the government to resist scrutiny, investigation and criticism from the media. We therefore reiterate our call for the repeal or substantial amendment of the Public Information Law in compliance with Yugoslavia's obligations under international law.

ARTICLE 19 would also like to draw your attention to the need for urgent revision of the procedures for the granting of radio and television licences in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Under the previous regime, licences were granted in a non-transparent and non-democratic manner resulting in the routine refusal of licences to independent radio and television stations. In light of the fact that foreign investors are reportedly showing an interest in certain radio and television stations, ARTICLE 19 calls upon you to ensure that the licensing procedures are urgently reviewed and that a transparent and fair licensing process is initiated at the earliest opportunity.

ARTICLE 19 urges you to address these concerns about the freedom of the print and broadcast media as a matter of priority, as a free media is an essential requirement for a full and meaningful transition to democracy.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Puddephatt
Executive Director


Recommended Action


Similar appeals can be sent to:

His Excellency Vojislav Kostunica
President of Yugoslavia
Savezna Skupstina
11000 Belgrade
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Fax: + 381 11 636 775

Please copy appeals to the source if possible.








Latest Tweet:

Diciembre en #Venezuela: intimidación, censura y detenciones. El último mes del año cerró con un total de 43 violac… https://t.co/ho2XnUyObN

Get more stories like this

Sign up for our newsletters and get the most important free expression news delivered to your inbox.

CLOSE