The number of attacks against journalists and media workers increased in 2022, and media professionals are increasingly subject to threats and harassment on social networks is of further concern. Impunity is still a significant problem; particularly worrying is the hate speech and labeling of journalists and media workers by politicians and other public office holders, as well as the trend of doubling the number of defamation and insult lawsuits compared to the year before. According to the АЈM register, since the beginning of 2022, seven attacks and harsh threats against journalists have been registered. Compared to last year, when five were registered, we see a renewed increase in attacks and threats against journalists and media workers.
With some of the competent institutions, the report states readiness for cooperation in the direction of improving the safety of media workers, and the proof of this is the amendments and additions to the Law on Civil Liability for Defamation and Insult, and the amendments were approved at the beginning of this year. The Criminal Code and both laws have already entered into force.
After several years of insistence by АЈM, the Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office Skopje, in October 2022, appointed a public prosecutor from the same institution as a contact person in connection with the cases related to the safety of journalists, which are under the jurisdiction of the Public Prosecutor’s Office Skopje. At the beginning of 2023, the Ministry of the Interior appointed a contact person for dealing with matters related to the safety of journalists and media workers, especially for threats on the Internet.
The report notes that hate speech and labeling of journalists and media workers by politicians and other public office holders, as well as the trend of doubling the number of defamation and insult lawsuits compared to last year, are of particular concern. In addition, the competent institutions and courts still do not keep sufficiently up-to-date records of threats and attacks against journalists, nor do they publish such data, showing a willingness to work on improving the safety of journalists and media workers through more prompt measures and prosecution of the perpetrators of attacks and threats.
Associations of journalists from the countries of the Western Balkans, with the support of the European Commission, established a common platform Safejournalists.net to monitor changes in legislation and practice in their countries and engage in various advocacy activities aimed at advancing political, legislative and the institutional environment in which journalists and media work. As of 2020, platform members monitor the situation in seven countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Serbia). Each year, the state assessment is carried out based on standardized methods of data collection and analysis, while the focus of advocacy research is on changes in both traditional and online media environments in the Western Balkan countries. The research methodology is composed of three groups of indicators developed on the basis of a systematic analysis of various guidelines produced by relevant international organizations.
The annual report on the indicators of the freedom of the media and the safety of journalists in North Macedonia, prepared within the framework of the Western Balkans Regional Platform project, financed by the European Commission, has been prepared and translated into Macedonian, Albanian and English.
The annual report is available at the following link