A BIRN team is attacked by a masked person in Mitrovica North on December 9, 2022. Photo: Screenshot from BIRN video

RSF Urges Kosovo to Protect Journalists From Attacks in North

Reporters Without Borders calls for better protection for journalists reporting from the volatile north of the country, where at least four attacks on journalists have been recorded in five weeks.

International media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, RSF, has called on Kosovo authorities and international security missions in the country to provide a better protection for journalists reporting from the north of Kosovo, where tensions have increased in recent months.

“The alarm signal sent by the wave of attacks against journalists in northern Kosovo must be taken seriously by Kosovo Police, the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) and the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) before there is another tragedy,” Pavol Szalai, Head of RSF’s European Union and Balkans desk, said on Thursday.

“We urge them to carry out a rapid and thorough investigation into these attacks, and to take additional protective measures in coordination with associations of journalists representing the two ethnic communities,” Szalai added.

Tensions have spiked in Serb-majority municipalities in northern Kosovo where on December 9 local Serbs set up barricades on two roads leading to the Jarinje and Bernjak crossing points with Serbia.

This was in reaction to the arrest of an ethnic Serbian former Kosovo Police officer. The government then closed the two crossing points and an uneasy standoff has persisted since then.

On Monday, a crew from Pristina-based TV Klan Kosova was assaulted near a newly-erected barricade near the ethnically mixed village of Cabra in Zubin Potok municipality.

Footage from the scene showed masked people throwing stones and shouting at the crew. No injuries were reported.

The Association of Journalists of Kosovo, AJK, condemned the attack and expressed concerns about the safety of journalists reporting from the volatile north.

“The AJK once again calls on relevant institutions to take measures and provide security for journalists and asks for journalists to be allowed to perform their duties without obstacles,” it said.

Monday’s incident was the third time that journalists have come under attack in northern Kosovo recently. On December 9, a crew of BIRN journalists was assaulted by a masked person in North Mitrovica. Several days later, a device exploded close to a TV Dukagjini journalist as she was reporting live.

Weeks before the barricades were erected, a crew of Insajderi news portal was attacked in Mitrovica North as they were filming a Kosovar school student being attacked. Cameraman Jetmir Muji was hospitalized.

RSF said it had learned that at least one media crew has been withdrawn from the field after their management decided the situation was too risky in light of the attacks.

“These threats to the media call into question respect for press freedom and the right to information about events in this country, which underwent a war in 1999 and now hopes to join the European Union,” RSF said.

Kosovo is ranked 61st out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2022 World Press Freedom Index.

22/12/2022 - 12:25

22 December 2022 - 12:25

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.