VIENNA, 15 June 2009 - The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is deeply concerned over recent attacks on BIRN Kosovo Director Jeta Xharra and her team, who produce the programme Jeta ne Kosove, aired on the public broadcaster RTK Kosovo.
On 4 June 2009, the Albanian daily newspaper Infopress published what appeared to be a death threat against Xharra, stating, Jeta has brought it upon herself to have a short life. On 5 June, Infopress again attacked Xharra in another editorial piece, in which the author wrote that he would be honoured to shake the hand of any dutiful Albanian who took it upon himself to punish Xharra.
Xharra is the director of BIRN (Balkan Investigative Reporting Network) Kosovo, which produces the popular TV programme Jeta ne Kosove (Life in Kosovo), where controversial and taboo topics ranging from homosexuality to minority voices to alleged war crimes are presented to the public. The hate campaign against Xharra and her team followed an edition of Life in Kosovo, broadcast on 28 May 2009, which reported on freedom of the media in Kosovo and focused on the central Kosovo municipality of Skenderaj/Srbica. After the programme was aired, Xharra and her team received various threatening messages.
Commenting on the situation, SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said, SEEMO strongly condemns these death threats and public assaults against Jeta Xharra and her team, as they are a direct attack on freedom of expression. It is vital for journalists to be able to report freely on current affairs without fear of harassment. Any attempts to influence media independence are unacceptable in a modern society. Vujovic added, It is especially worrisome that this apparent hate campaign is being waged by a newspaper that depends on advertising revenue from the government. Infopress receives the lion's share of government advertising revenues, which would imply that the campaign is supported at the highest political level. SEEMO urges the authorities to put an end to political pressure on the media and to allow journalists to report freely on current affairs and to carry out their work in safety.
VIENNA, 15 June 2009 - More than one year after the brutal assault on Dusan Miljus, an investigative reporter for the Croatian daily newspaper Jutarnji List, his attackers are yet to be arrested. The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), calls on the Croatian authorities to further ensure Miljus's protection and to bring to justice those responsible for the attack.
On 2 June 2008, two assailants wearing motorcycle helmets approached Miljus in front of his home in Zagreb, Croatia, and violently attacked him with baseball bats until he lost consciousness. The unidentified men fled when a neighbour noticed the attack and started yelling. On 9 July 2008, an unknown male telephone caller told a relative of Miljus that if the journalist did not stop talking, other members of his family might get hurt. The caller indicated that he had information about Miljus's family members. Miljus was previously threatened via a paid advertisement in the newspaper Vecernji List, when the sister of a murdered convict issued an obituary for Miljus. SEEMO issued a protest letter regarding the incident.
Miljus's writings span 20 years and cover crime in South East Europe, the mafia and Croatian underground circles. He has been previously threatened in connection with his investigative journalism.
SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said, SEEMO would welcome a full investigation by the Croatian police in order that justice is administered. It is time for the police and Croatian authorities to step up their efforts to solve this case. Vujovic added, SEEMO welcomes the fact that Miljus receives police protection, but the failure to bring those responsible to justice will only strengthen the impression that the Croatian authorities have little interest in protecting journalists who dare to report openly. Democracy fails when journalists are forced to operate in constant fear for their lives.
The U.S. Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are pleased to announce their joint mission to visit displaced persons, returnees and refugees in Bosansko Grahovo, Drvar, Bosanski Petrovac, Kljuc and Prijedor municipalities on June 15-16. The delegation will include representatives of the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, and will review ongoing cooperative work in Bosnia and Herzegovina between the U.S. government and UNHCR, as well as unmet needs of persons who continue to be displaced some 14 years after the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement. Annex VII of the Dayton Peace Agreement continues to serve as the principal framework for the protection of people displaced as a result of the 1992-1995 conflict.
Reflecting on the recent visit of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and EU High Representative Javier Solana, the delegation will examine new ways in which joint international cooperation can promote the well-being of displaced populations throughout the region. In particular, the delegation looks forward to reviewing the status and plans for implementation of the Revised Strategy for Implementation of Annex VII. The Strategy was adopted by the Council of Ministers in January 2009 and is now under consideration by the BiH Parliament. We expect adoption after it will be discussed at the House of Peoples on June 18.
Since the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement, UNHCR has contributed $458 million and the U. S. Department of State has contributed more than $55 million in assistance to refugees and returnees in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The United States Embassy will host a reception at 1400 on 17 June 2009 at Dom Oružanih snaga BiH to honor all Bosnia and Herzegovina alumni of the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program. Ambassador Charles English and Deputy Minister of Defense Marina Pendes will address the IMET alumni.
All media are invited to attend this event. We kindly ask you to arrive Dom OS BiH at 13:50.
Since 1996, 268 BiH soldiers have attended professional military education courses in the US, at a cost of $11 million. The goal of the program is to train BiH non-commissioned officers and officers on US doctrine, and improve bilateral relations and interoperability between the US and BiH armed forces. The program also gives US military students an opportunity to learn from their BiH colleagues. Some of the courses BiH soldiers have attended include the US Army War College, the Sergeant Major Academy, the Command and General Staff College, English Instructors Course and the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Course. These courses contributed to the great success of the BiH EOD unit during 8 deployments to Iraq. In 2009, approximately 25 BiH officers and NCOs will attend courses in the United States.
Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) and Co-Chairman Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL ), will lead a bipartisan Congressional delegation to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Lithuania and Belarus June 26 to July 3, 2009.
The delegation will be in Sarajevo on June 27 and 28 and will hold a series of meetings with government leaders and civil society representatives in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina – focusing on international cooperation and supporting the reforms to allow Bosnia to join the European Union and NATO.
On Sunday, June 28, the Congressional delegation in BiH led by Senator Cardin and joined by the U.S. Ambassador to BiH, Charles English, will hold a news conference at 3:30 p.m. at Hotel Europe, Vladislava Skarića 5, 71000 Sarajevo.
All media representatives are invited to attend the conference. We kindly ask you to arrive at Hotel Europe no later than 3:10 p.m.
For all additional information, please contact Office of Public Affairs Sarajevo at 033/619-592 or 061/138-985.
The stop in Minsk, Belarus, will mark the highest level Congressional delegation to the authoritarian country in more than a decade.
The delegation will attend the 18th Annual Session of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly in Vilnius, focusing on the theme ‘ The OSCE: Addressing New Security Challenges.’ Members will debate and vote on a range of issues including security in Afghanistan, the economic crisis, climate change, energy, water, and human rights and democratic development. The resolutions passed become the final Vilnius Declaration – helping to steer the direction of the OSCE.