Photo: BIRN

Suspension of Media Certificate Sparks Protests in Kosovo

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

With the motto ‘Democracy dies in darkness,’ journalists, cameramen, photo reporters, and activists protested on Monday in front of the government, revolting against the suspension of Klan Kosova’s business certificate by the Ministry of Industry, Entrepreneurship, and Trade, MIET.

The protest, organized by the Association of Journalists of Kosovo, AJK, claims that such a decision is media censorship and a threat to freedom of speech, seeing it as a danger to democracy.

Naim Sadiku, a member of the AJK Board, called on the judiciary to treat the case of Klan Kosova fairly. He said from the protest, “Journalists have faced a fierce campaign from the ruling party, and during this time, we also denounce this harsh language towards journalists and the media.”

As a sign of solidarity, several media outlets placed their work equipment, such as cameras, tripods, and microphones, on the ground.

Shortly before the end of the protest, two citizens attempted to disrupt the protest with a sign opposing the terms “Djakovica, Serbia” and “Pec, Serbia.”

MIET had initially filed a criminal complaint against Klan Kosova on June 14, claiming that the business certificate, concerning the change of owners, included “Pejë – Serbia and Gjakovë – Serbia”. Pejë and Gjakovë are cities of Kosovo.

The Ministry has published documentation in the Macedonian language, stating that the owner of Klan Kosova presented Kosovo as part of Serbia during the business registration process in North Macedonia.

MIET stated that after verifying the available documentation for Klan Kosova, the Commission for Review of Business Registration Appeals found that the initial decision to suspend the business certificate was correct and in accordance with the laws in force.

The Commission’s decision notes that the Business Registration Agency of Kosovo, BRAK, had initially acted in accordance with the law when it suspended the business certificate of Klan Kosova sh.p.k. on June 14, 2023.

The reason for BRAK’s suspension was that in the registration documents of the company, the owner of the business, KGO Media Invest DOOEL, listed the municipalities of the Republic of Kosovo as cities in Serbia, which constitutes a violation of the Constitution.

MIET has filed a criminal complaint against Klan Kosova and its owners.

According to the Ministry, Klan Kosova has the right to file a lawsuit in the competent court.

European Centre for Press and Media Freedom condemned the decision of the Ministry. “We are appalled to learn that the Ministry of Trade in Kosovo has today completed all the necessary steps to shut down the biggest private media outlet in the country @klankosova_tv”, they tweeted on Friday.

The PM of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, emphasized the importance of media freedom, stating that adherence to registration rules is a legal duty, not an option. He added on Twitter, “The freedom of the media is crucial: an attack against them is an attack against democracy. However, democracy is also undermined when powerful businessmen break the law for financial gains. Enforcing the law against such violations, in no way, constitutes an attack on media freedom.”

Meanwhile, the embassies of France, Germany, Italy, the UK, the US, and the European Union in Kosovo expressed their deep concern over MIET’s decision through a joint reaction. “Freedom of expression and information are essential characteristics of democratic societies. We expect a fair and transparent legal process to resolve the situation.”

The President, Vjosa Osmani, has requested a clarification of any legal doubts concerning the case of Klan Kosova’s license.

31/07/2023 - 17:53

31 July 2023 - 17:53

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.