The Association of Journalists of Macedonia strongly condemns the verbal threats against the journalist Mishko Ivanov, sent to him on the social network Facebook. Last night, immediately after the interviews with the leaders of VMRO-DPMNE and SDSM, Hristijan Mickoski and Zoran Zaev, a certain person called Boban Petrovski sent a message full of hate speech and threats to the journalist of TV24. After Ivanov posted the message on his Facebook profile, journalists Aneta Dodevska and Natasha Stojanovska also pointed out that lately they have been target of attacks as well, because messages with similar content have been sent to them too.
We call the Ministry of Interior immediately to open an investigation for these threats against our colleagues and to report the case to the Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office. Threats and hate speech are not part of the freedom of speech and can have serious consequences and cause self-censorship to the journalists. Only through strict sanctioning of such threats by the institutions we will be able to prevent future attacks and threats against journalists. The state has an obligation to provide an effective system of prevention and punishment of violence against journalists, because this is basic precondition to improve the situation with freedom of speech. Therefore, we insist that the Ministry of Interior and the Public Prosecutor’s Office immediately find a way to effectively investigate the threats.
We remind the public that if we want to have a functioning democracy we need a high level of freedom of speech and expression, and such a thing cannot be achieved if journalists and media workers work under constant pressure and threats, because that will only contribute to creating an atmosphere of fear and self-censorship.
These threats who represent an attack on freedom of information and freedom of the media will be reported to all national and international organizations dealing with the defense of freedom of expression.