Photo: Pixaby/AndyLeungHK

Court’s Decision to Postpones Govt Decision to Close TV Channel Applauded by International Community

Diplomats, media connoisseurs and international organizations for the protection of journalists' rights have welcomed the decision of the Commercial Court that suspends the decision of the Ministry of Industry, Enterprise and Trade to revoke the business certificate of "Klan Kosova" television.

On Thursday, the Commercial Court in Prishtina took a decision to suspend the decision of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Enterprise, MIET, to revoke the business certificate of “Klan Kosova” television, until a final decision is taken by the court about the Klan Kosova V. MIET case .

This decision has been welcomed by diplomats, media experts and international organizations for the protection of journalists’ rights.

Among them was Reporters Without Borders, RSF, which expressed the support of them and their partners towards the court’s decision.

“RSF and its partners welcome the Court’s injunction to suspend the Ministry’s decision to revoke Klan Kosova’s business certificate. All light must be shed on what seems to be an abusive administrative procedure aimed at silencing a media outlet” said RSF on Twitter.

Another reaction came from The European Center for Press and Media Freedom, ECPMF, which described the court’s decision as important.

“ECPMF welcomes the Kosovo Court’s injunction to stop the government from shutting down Klan Kosova. This interim decision protects media pluralism and counters the government’s attempts to undermine press freedom”, said ECPMF.

This reaction was also shared by the German Ambassador of Kosovo, Jörn Rohde, who wrote “This is the rule of law!”.

The European Federation of Journalists, EFJ, came out in support of Klan Kosova as well. While expressing their concern with the approach of the Kosovo government towards the media and journalists, emphasized that they will continue to closely monitor the case.

The Association of Journalists of Kosovo, AJK, on Thursday emphasized that the court’s decision  enables the continuation of the operation of Klan Kosova television, despite the decision of the Kosovo government to close it.

“AJK will closely monitor the other ongoing proceedings, with the hope that the quick epilogue will conclude this episode of the government’s attempt to undermine media freedom in Kosovo”, AJK said on Facebook.

Since the beginning of this case, the media lawyer Fulutra Kusari has come to the defense of Klan Kosova.

“Today’s court decision – although temporary – is a very strong indicator that the government’s tenacity to close Klan Kosova is illegal, arbitrary, disproportionate and a great risk for the pluralization of the media”, Kusari wrote on Facebook.

Even the Kosovar media have several times expressed their solidarity for Klan Kosova.

What is the case about?

Kosovo’s Commercial Court postponed the execution of a government decision to suspend TV channel Klan Kosova’s business certificate, which would prevent it from operating. In its verdict, the Commercial Court said that Klan Kosova has fulfilled the legal criteria to continue operating.

“Since according to the certificates presented [to the court], it transpires that the plaintiff [Klan Kosova] has made the [required] changes in business registries in North Macedonia and Kosovo, the court assessed that postponing the execution of the contested decision does not conflict with the public interest,” judge Arnis Dumani said in the verdict.

The verdict also said that it would be “contrary to the public interest” and the media freedom guarantees in Kosovo’s constitution if it did not postpone the execution of the decision to suspend the channel’s business certificate.

The dispute started in June when news website Kosovanews published an investigation that suggested irregularities in Klan Kosova’s registration in Kosovo’s business registry.

The ministry then suspended Klan Kosova’s business certificate and initiated a criminal complaint against the company, its managers and officials from the Business Registration Agency on suspicion of misuse of office.

According to the decision, which was made public by the Association of Journalists of Kosovo, the ministry suspended Klan Kosova’s business certificate because the owners’ residential address is allegedly registered as “Peje-Serbia and Gjakove-Serbia… [which is] in violation with the basic principles of the constitution of the Republic of Kosovo”. Both towns are in Kosovo, not Serbia.

The Independent Media Commission, the institution responsible for the regulation, management and oversight of broadcasters in Kosovo, gave TV channel a month to correct the documentation, but on the final day, July 28, the ministry said that Klan Kosova failed to comply with the request.

Klan Kosova insisted on Monday however that it has corrected all the data in the business registry and accused the ministry of “fraudulently presenting a situation that does not exist”.

But the ministry said that its commission, which reviewed the case, acted in accordance with the law when it suspended the certificate.

“The commission decision closes this case within the ministry while the complaining entity has the right to take the case to the court,” the ministry said in a statement.

“You know very well that there is no attack against the media, but you want to deliberately misunderstand, in order to cover the shame of your bosses! The fact that the business that is being suspended is a media is a consequence, not the cause of the license suspension,” stated Dimal Basha, a deputy of the ruling party Vetevendosje, on Wednesday.

As a sign of protest against the decision of MIET to suspend the business certificate of Klan Kosova media, on Tuesday journalists boycotted the press conference of Rozeta Hajdari, Minister of MIET.

At the beginning of the minister’s speech, journalists removed the microphones from the lectern.

Furthermore, On July 31 Journalists, photo reporters, cameramen, and activists protested in Prishtina against the suspension of the Klan Kosova media outlet’s business certificate by the government.

MIET’s decision to revoke Klan Kosova’s certificate is postponed until the court decides with a final judicial decision.

04/08/2023 - 15:32

04 August 2023 - 15:32

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.