While the MFRR mission to Serbia noted a relatively small number of positive state initiatives prompted by international pressures, including the adoption of a Media Strategy Action Plan, these are outnumbered by numerous areas of concern regarding media freedom and safety of journalists that must be urgently addressed by the government.
Minimal progress was registered with regard to media freedom, but at the same time, there was a marked regression regarding access to information.
The report also raises concerns about public officials actively contributing to the polarisation of the media landscape, demonising independent media through direct verbal attacks or the use of pro-government tabloids. Finally, it includes a series of urgent recommendations for the government of Serbia and international organisations to improve media freedom and safety of journalists in Serbia.
The main issues tackled by the mission and analysed in the report are:
- Safety of journalists: Physical and verbal attacks, smear campaigns, online harassment, and legal threats against journalists
- Polarisation of the media landscape in Serbia
- Abusive lawsuits: Legal threats against journalists
- Policy framework for the protection of journalists and justice system
- Access to official information by journalists
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