Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Kosovo: OSCE says daily “unprofessional, irresponsible"

PRIŠTINA -- The OSCE in Kosovo issued a statement in which it condemned the reporting of Priština daily Infopress.

The statement described a series of articles containing names of Kosovo Serbs allegedly involved in crimes during the war in the province as “a worrying development of increased unprofessional and irresponsible reporting.”

In March, the newspaper published an article entitled “Squad in Gračanica” containing a list of names of Kosovo Serbs from that village. Then came two articles in May about a Kosovo Serb police officer it accused of human rights violations, the statement said.

This was followed by a series of articles on “Serb massacres in the Mitrovica region,” followed by an article about “the organization of Serb forces” in Istok.

The daily then proceeded to publish a list of mostly Serbs, containing their full names and other details, from May 30 to June 6.

The Serbs from the list were allegedly reservists with the Yugoslav Army (VJ) in Kosovo.

“These lists have caused significant concern among the minority population and within the Press Council of Kosovo, which paid a visit to the media outlet to draw its attention to the potentially dangerous consequences such irresponsible reporting might have,” the OSCE said.

“According to Article 10.2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the exercise of freedom of expression ‘carries with it duties and responsibilities’,” the statement reminds, and adds that “it is the duty and responsibility of Infopress to understand that such reporting could provoke certain readers to carry out ‘justice’ outside the judicial system.”

Even after the warnings it received, the newspaper continued publishing the lists, first on July 23, and then from July 30 to August 4, “every issue of Infopress contained more lists.”

“The OSCE Mission strongly condemns these publications, which lack basic journalistic standards and reflects negatively on the editorial principles of Infopress. The reasoning as well as the forces behind these articles are unclear,” the statement says.

“This kind of irresponsible journalism does not help to inform the public, nor does it contribute to peaceful co-existence of different communities in Kosovo. It creates a negative image of Kosovo and is detrimental to the aspirations of most Kosovans to live in a tolerant civilized European society governed by the rule of law.”

The OSCE also addressed Infopress' explanation of their actions which said that the articles were produced “in an attempt to support the judiciary.”

“The clear division of powers of government together with a politically independent media are the indispensable cornerstones of every democratic society. It is not the role of the media to act ‘in support’, on behalf or in place of the judiciary or any branch of government,” the statement said in reaction.

“The OSCE Mission in Kosovo calls upon Infopress, and Kosovo's newspapers in general, to follow the professional code of conduct which they themselves have agreed to abide by as members of the Press Council, and to contribute to responsible, professional and de-politicized reporting,” the statement ends.

(Source :

Related link : OSCE Press Release on this issue

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