The OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and the Embassy of Sweden in BiH, representing the OSCE 2021 Chairpersonship, organized conference with more than 50 journalists and media professionals today to discuss threats against media freedom.
The discussion, which was held in a hybrid format, with both in person and online participation, focused on the frequent attacks against journalists, the work of the media during the pandemic and how the pandemic has affected overall trust in the media in BiH.
“Free and independent media is a fundamental democratic principle. Unfortunately, threats against independent media are growing, undermining democracy and stability,” said Swedish Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Johanna Strömquist. “We need to stand up to strengthen independent, democratic voices and to combat disinformation actively.”
Over the last year, the media sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina has faced numerous political and financial challenges. Yet, journalists were not deterred from investigating, reporting and publishing stories of public interest.
Kathleen Kavalec, Head of the OSCE Mission to BiH, said: “Journalists and media workers play an important role in sharing vital information, uncovering corruption and illegal activities that affect the lives of citizens. The safety of journalists, online and offline, must be protected in all democratic societies. BiH is no exception to this. The OSCE Mission to BiH is committed to strengthening journalists’ rights and freedoms in BiH.”
Participants addressed the extent that the widespread dissemination of disinformation has further deteriorated trust in the media sector in BiH.
“The public trust in the media in BiH is at a very low level. With the emergence of disinformation as a strategic political tool, professional and ethical journalism remains a guardian of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, serving the interest of the public,” said Elvira Jukić-Mujkić, Editor in Chief at Mediacentar Sarajevo. “What should remain the standard and our common guiding principle is high quality journalism and a media-literate and information-literate audience.”
The conference is part of wider efforts to address the challenges related to media freedom and freedom of expression in Bosnia and Herzegovina.