World Press Freedom Day was marked in Serbia with several events, which attracted widespread attention. The Serbian section of the AEJ, which is officially registered as the Association of European journalists of Serbia (UENS), was an active organiser and participant.
1. A Roundtable on the issue of the freedom of press in Serbia, with historical approach and assessment of the current situation, was organised by media unions including the AEJ Serbian Section. Throughout Serbia’s very turbulent modern history, with many wars and human sacrifices in the 19th and 20th centuries, the freedom of press was permanently suppressed by ruling circles, on the pretext of national necessity. In spite of this, the Serbian media had a great role in the battle against the Milosevic dictatorship in the last decade of the 20th century. Journalists’ primary complaint towards the current government is that the killers of three well-known journalists — Slavko Curuvija, Dada Vujasinovic and Mlan Pantic — and the people who ordered those killings, have still not been found and brought to justice. Years have passed and yet the mystery continues. Journalists’ unions are convinced that the secret sevices know who committed those crimes, but that they are still so strong that do not want to reveal the names and relevant facts.
2. In Pionirski park in Belgrade, in front of the Palace of Parliament, on May 3, a demonstration entitled “Five minutes of strong silence” was organized by journalists’ unions, where Nino Brajovic, a member of the AEJ Section , made a major speech. The aim was to warn the Government about the situation in the media, where journalist are in many cases deprived of their legitimate freedom to report and write under pressure from the government as well as from media owners. It is essential that the profession of journalist should be treated as a matter of public interest.
3. The deaths of 16 members of Television of Belgrade , killed in the NATO bombing campaign on April 10 1999, was marked with commemorative meetings and with a universal message to the world that members of the media must not be the target of any military actions.