Kosovo media boycotts government for a day

AFP , Thursday 3 May 2012

Kosovar newspapers, websites launch one-day boycott of govt-related news to protest new criminal code that critics say violates press freedoms

Kosovo media on Thursday imposed a one-day boycott on coverage of all news relating to government institutions and parliament, in protest at a new criminal code they say violates press freedom.

Newspapers and news websites published the boycott logo on their front pages as part of the action. Radio and television, including state-runned media, also participated in the news blackout.

State-controlled broadcaster RTK even suspended its live broadcast of Thursday's parliament session, although it is legally obliged to air the sitting.

"None of the media will publish anything today about the activities of the central institutions and political subjects in Kosovo," the head of Kosovo's association of professional journalists Arben Ahmeti told AFP.

"We are united in the position that the freedom of press is not negotiable."

The action is targetted against articles 37 and 38 of the new Criminal Code adopted in April that can force journalists to disclose their anonymous sources if ordered by a court. Media workers say this violates press freedom.

The code also includes a broadly worded article that could see journalists jailed for up to three years if a court finds their reporting "stirred up criminal acts".

International media watchdogs have been warning about the deterioration of press freedom in Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

Reporters Without Borders "firmly" condemned the new criminal code immediately after its adoption.

"These provisions are unacceptable. They are clearly aimed at silencing the kind of journalism and investigative reporting that makes the government uncomfortable," it said, urging Kosovo president Atifete Jahjaga to refuse to sign it into law.

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