Verbal attacks on journalists and media outlets by state officials, politicians and people connected to the ruling party Vetevendosje are also disturbing, the conference heard.
“Divisive rhetoric and smear campaigns directed at journalists by some politicians and public officials, including from the governing party, is creating a growing climate of hostility against the media,” said the International Press Institute, one of the organisations that participated in the visit.
It said that such rhetoric could cause “threats, online harassment and physical violence”.
Flutura Kusari from the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom also told the conference on Wednesday that in addition to the positive findings about “the advancement of press freedom, the legal framework for the protection of journalists and positive developments in the public broadcaster”, derogatory language towards the media and journalists from politicians, mainly from ruling party Vetëvendosje, remains a problem.
Kusari claimed that “the safety of journalists, impunity, non-handling of cases of missing journalists, problems in access to information in the Serbian language, and the lack of transparency of the current government continue to be one of the main challenges journalists face”.
Pavol Szala from Reporters Without Borders said that “verbal attacks by politicians on journalists create an unsafe climate that can encourage physical threats and intimidation against journalists”.
Roberta Taveri from Article 19 also highlighted the lack of government transparency as worrying.
“This issue raised by journalists must be improved, since access to information is also an obligation of the government,” she said.
Attila Mong from the Committee to Protect Journalists noted meanwhile that progress has not been made in following up cases of physical attacks on and threats against journalists.
The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, also said in a report in October that Kosovo is not doing enough to protect journalists from violence after a rise in attacks and threats in 2021.