Developed, democratic countries, where media freedom exists, don’t have media strategies. The fact that there are problems in Serbia today when it comes to introducing the Media strategy also speaks to the fact that a big change is necessary, the President of the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights, Katarina Golubovic, pointed out.
Responding to questions from citizens on Danas’ Facebook page, Katarina Golubovic spoke about the state of media in Serbia, among other things, as well as about Freedom House’s recent report that has Serbia classed among countries that are “partly free.”
“Freedom House’s report clearly underscored the message we have persistently been trying to convey, which is that there is no division of power in Serbia”, Golubovic emphasized, adding that this organization has given an unambiguous answer to the question of “who is responsible for reducing the level of democracy in Serbia”, and that YUCOM fully agrees with their assessment.
Cooperation between the state and the civil sector, she says, exists, but only as long as the civil sector doesn’t come out with open criticism of the government.
In those situations, she states, “not only are the civil sector’s suggestions not taken into consideration, there is intense stigmatization, as well as more and more open insults, toward activists personally, and their work.”
“We’ve had it happen that we’re discredited in advance by government representatives, and there are attempts to relativize our messages using messages from these new government non-governmental organizations – GONGOs, who get unbelievable media coverage in all the regime media immediately after being founded”, Golubovic said, pointing out that many GONGOs have similar names to those of credible non-governmental organizations.
This practice, as she said, gives citizens the wrong impression about the existence of disagreements in the civil sector, whose goal is to have organizations who have been criticizing the government’s work openly for a long time perceived as “the usual critics”, with ties to the opposition and “foreign elements”, and to discredit their work in this way.
Speaking about proposed amendments to the Constitution, she pointed out that the Working group has managed to construct proposals that are in accordance with the standards of the Council of Europe, but only at first glance, because the proposals leave the majority of issues to be regulated by future laws.
“The problem is that Serbia has made a commitment to the EU that these standards would be significantly higher than those existing now, which are already above the minimum. So, with the current (Government) proposal of constitutional amendments, we are taking steps backwards when it comes to the level of independence of the courts and the independence of the prosecution”, Golubovic pointed out.
This issue, she added, could only be partially improved by laws which would further regulate the judiciary.
“We will advocate that the full text of a future proposal of constitutional amendments, which is in the exclusive jurisdiction of the National Assembly (!) and the proposal for a law governing the judiciary – are again put in front of the Venice Commission, in order to assess the fulfillment of these standards on realistic grounds”, said the President of YUCOM.