The Association of Journalists of Macedonia strongly condemns the threat addressed to the IRL woman journalist, Maja Jovanovska by Sadredin Elezoski, Head of the Department of Urbanism in the Municipality of Mavrovo Rostushe.
The IRL team was in Mavrovo yesterday for a meeting with several employees in the municipality of Mavrovo and PE National Park Mavrovo. Only the Head of the Department of Urbanism in the Municipality, Sadredin Elezoski, refused to meet with journalists, although, according to Jovanovska, he was contacted on several occasions. After the call made today by Sadredin Elezoski with Maja Jovanovska, who explained that they are still waiting for answers to the questions sent on April 4, he sent insults and abusive words to the journalist, threatening with the words: “Beware of today. You will see what might happen to you if you come here.”
Despite the threats, the woman journalist Jovanovska announced that she would come to Mavrovo again next week because the municipal administration owes answers to the chaos with the illegal buildings that are being built in the Mavrovo National Park.
My colleague Jovanovska addressed AJM and pointed out that: “Previously, I had indirect threats related to the research I worked on from people with power and influential positions. However, this is the first time they have threatened me directly. At first, I was really scared because the research we are working on has proved it has more and more political and business interests in the destruction of the largest Mavrovo National Park.”
The editor-in-chief of the IRL, Sashka Cvetkovska, says that the pressures and threats against the editorial office have intensified in the last year, especially after the start of the editorial office project, which sheds light on corruption and crime and is broadcasted on the Public Service and the Internet. “Instead of cases of corruption, all the energy goes to lawsuits, pressures and threats and organized and paid raids in the media against us, in which the media also participate. There are constant attempts to make the IRL project disappear. This is not the first threat and we regularly report them to AJM and the International Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, but so far, no one has dared explicitly to threaten their lives. The reporting of abuses on a horrific scale where one of the people of interest is Mr Elezoski will continue, and the IRL team and Maja Jovanovska will go to Mavrovo and Rostushe next week, as planned, in the hope that we will get the answers as the public deserves them,” said Cvetkovska.
The case was reported to the Ministry of Interior today and AJM will follow the further investigation. We remind that only through a strict sanction of attacks and threats by institutions in the future we will be able to prevent attacks and threats against journalists. The state has an obligation to provide an effective system for preventing and punishing violence against journalists. This is a basic precondition for improving the situation with freedom of speech.
The Investigative Reporting Laboratory (IRL) has been reporting on urban problems, crime and corruption in the municipalities of Mavrovo and Rostushe for more than three years. According to IRL colleagues, communication with the local government is always difficult, the administration is not transparent and IRL journalists have a hard time getting answers from the Department of Urbanism.