Photo: Pixaby/AndyLeungHK

Kosovo Rises in World Press Freedom Index, but Media Independence Still at Risk

Kosovo moved up five places in the World Press Freedom Index, according to the worldwide organization Journalists Without Borders, but dangers still exist.

On World Press Freedom Day, the media watchdog organization Journalists Without Borders published its Country Index, and Kosovo ranked in 56th place, an improvement of five places from last year’s 61st position. 

However, media independence in Kosovo is still at risk due to weak regulations and dependence on party distribution of public funds and the increased targeting of journalists by SLAPPs by business groups, according to the report. 

The report states that Kosovo has a pluralistic and vibrant media market, but even if the media manages to hold politicians accountable, journalists remain the target of political attacks.

“The media regulator, IMC [Independent Media Commission], has been ineffective and was recently involved in a corruption case. The independence of public broadcaster RTK [Radio Television of Kosovo] has been called into question due to the election as director of television of an ally of the ruling party,” the report states.

Prime Minister Albin Kurti said he is proud of the improving media freedom in Kosovo.

“On World Press Freedom Day, we're proud to announce that according to Reporters without Borders, Kosovo improved its standing by 22 places in two years for its journalistic environment. A free & independent press will always remain an important pillar of democracy & our country,” Kurti wrote on Twitter.

Based on the index, Kosovo and Albania are ranked among ‘the problematic countries’, although both countries recorded an increase in the media freedom index compared to a year ago.

Albania was ranked in 96th place, marking an increase of seven places compared to a year ago, when it ranked 103rd.

According to the index for media freedom, the situation is "very bad" in 31 countries globally, "bad" in 42 countries, "problematic" in 55 and "good" or "quite good" in 52 countries.

The board of the Association of Journalists of Kosovo, AJK,  in honour of World Press Freedom Day, issued a statement for the media in front of the Palace of Justice, to call on prosecutors and judges to prioritize cases of violence against journalists.

The number of cases of threats, attacks and harassment against journalists has increased year after year, it pointed out. 

In the last five years, AJK registered 120 cases of threats against journalists and other media workers. In total, 17 cases were registered in 2018, 21 in 2019, 24 in 2020, 29 in 2021 and 33 during 2022. 

The director of the online media outlet Gazeta Metro, [Newspaper Metro] journalist Valon Syla was physically attacked by four suspects on April 11. 

According to the AJK, this year alone, 11 cases of attacks have been recorded, with the most serious one being the one against Syla. 

“Cases of attacks against journalists have a special danger because they do not only affect the injured party but also endanger the freedom of expression of journalists and the freedom of information of citizens,” said the head of the AJK, Xhemajl Rexha.

In December, many Kosovar journalists, including a team from BIRN reported being attacked while reporting in the Serb-majority north of the country, amid heightened political tension between Kosovo and neighboring Serbia.

03/05/2023 - 17:31

03 May 2023 - 17:31

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.