Council of Europe warn of restrictive changes to the media in the Electoral Code

Strasbourg, 10 August, 2018 - 19:39 (META) 

Yesterday, the Council of Europe issued a public warning on its platform for the protection of journalism and the safety of journalists, regarding several amendments to the Electoral Code which could jeopardize the work and freedom of the media in Macedonia. The warning says that the Macedonian state is the source of such a threat to the freedom of the media, reports the Association of Journalists of Macedonia.

The warning follows AJM’s demands to the Council of Europe’s platform, who in their reaction refer to the joint statement made by the AJM, the Independent Trade Union of Journalists and the Ethics Council.

“Several amendments to the Electoral Code were passed on 25 July 2018 by the Macedonian Parliament in a fast-track procedure, as a result of a political agreement between the leaders of the four main political parties. An amendment to the Electoral Code empowers the State Election Commission to register and monitor online media reporting on the elections. In addition, the Article 181a of the law provides for fines of up to 4,000 Euros to traditional and online media for their ‘unbalanced or impartial reporting’”, warns the Council of Europe on the platform.

The warning was addressed to the Macedonian Parliament, which is expected to clarify these changes that limit the freedom of the media in the coming period.

The Council of Europe have set the alarm concerning restrictive changes to the media in the Electoral Code.

AJM: Referendum is being abused in order to restore government financed campaigns in the media

Skopje, 9 August, 2018 - 18:00 (META) 

A delegation of the Macedonian Journalists Association met with representatives of the OSCE/ODIHR observation mission to discuss changes to the Electoral Code and the referendum, which have a direct impact on the media, the AJM informs.

AJM President Naser Selmani stressed that the government and the opposition are abusing the referendum to secure funding for their own political propaganda purposes for a future election campaign with public-money, causing huge damage to media freedom and professional journalism.

Selmani maintains that “the legal solution brings back government’s campaigns from the time of Gruevski’s regime, when with public money the government conducted a media campaigns for the alleged success of their work”.

He believes that “paying for political propaganda in the media with public money will strengthen the corrupt ties between the parties and the media, and will influence media coverage concerning the political system in the country”. According to Selmani, the international community should put pressure on the government after the referendum has been held, and these changes should be erased from the Electoral Code.

It is absolutely unacceptable to Selmani that government officials make political and financial pressure on Macedonian radio-television at a time when they are loudly advocating reform of the public service.

Dragan Sekulovski, Director of AJM criticized the conduct of the State Election Commission, which, contrary to good European practices, is trying to take over the responsibilities of the Media Agency by online media registration. Sekulovski believes that the SEC can not evaluate online media coverage concerning the referendum and possibly punish them for allegedly unbalanced reporting.

The SEC has no right to impose media presentation on the referendum

Skopje, 7 August, 2018 - 17:12 (META) 

The Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM), the Independent Union of Journalists and Media Workers (SSNM), the Council for Ethics in the Media of Macedonia (SEMM), the Macedonian Institute for Media (MIM) and the Institute for Communication Studies (ICS) have condemned the way in which the State Election Commission interpreted the latest amendments and additions to the Electoral Code regarding media presentation for the referendum on the name.

“We stress that the latest amendments and additions to the Electoral Code, which legitimized political propaganda in the media paid by the people’s money, refer only to the organization of election campaigns, and not to the organization of referendums. The SEC has no legal jurisdiction to interpret the laws, while the Commission’s explanation on media presentation for the referendum is guess-work, without legal basis, and discriminates against the participants in the referendum,” said the association in a statement.

The AJM, SSNM, MIM and ICS say that “it is unclear where the SEC presumes the right of Parliament to give priority in media presentation, as compared to the other participants in the referendum, as the organizer of the referendum.”

“Not only does Parliament receive privileged access to the media for political propaganda regarding the referendum, but also the costs of this propaganda will be paid by public funds. Other participants in the referendum campaign will not only have limited access to the media for propaganda, but they will have to bear the advertising costs themselves. Such approximate clarification can seriously jeopardize the legitimacy and legality of the referendum, therefore the SEC should immediately withdraw it. We urge the media to refrain from being drawn into this political manipulation. If they allow someone to impose rules on how to advertise in their media today, then tomorrow they will tell them how they should report,” the statement added.

Selmani: Police must learn that journalists are not the enemy

Skopje, 12 June, 2018 - 16:14 (META) 

The police must learn that journalists reporting from protests are not the enemy, but are also professionals on official duty, who need to be protected if attacked by participants at protests. They deserve protection, in accordance with domestic and international law, said the President of the Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM), Naser Selmani, at a workshop in Skopje for improving the security of journalists during critical events, organized by AJM, MoI, and with support the OSCE.

“We are unanimous that violence against media workers is an unacceptable practice for a democratic country. As an important element in the functioning of democratic processes, they have the right to work in an environment free from threats and intimidation. Their mission to inform citizens and requests for reports from any government, will not be fulfilled while they work in conditions of fear and insecurity”, said Selmani.

The workshop is part of efforts to improve co-operation between journalists and the police, after the MoI and AJM signed a memorandum of cooperation last December.

Minister of Interior Oliver Spasovski said that there must be zero tolerance concerning attacks on journalists.

“Unfortunately, in the last few years we have witnessed numerous attacks and intimidation towards journalists. There is no justification for such attacks. The government’s attitude is clear and we have said it repeatedly – zero tolerance for any attempt to jeopardize freedom of speech and expression”, said Spasovski.

At the opening of the event, Jeff Goldstein, deputy head of the OSCE mission, said that violence against journalists is not just verbal and physical attacks, but also consists of unlawful detentions, destruction of property, arbitrary raids on editorial offices or in the home of journalists, hate speech, attacks via social networks and threats of sexual assault on female journalists.

Selmani to Popovski: Put your dogs on a leash before its too late

Skopje, 12 March, 2018 - 16:26 (META) 

Today, several dozen journalists protested outside the government to demand that measures be taken on threats and insults that DUI official, Bekir Asani sent to the president of the association of journalists, Naser Selmani.

At the protest, Selmani said that journalists were constantly exposed to threats and pressure and demanded that measures be taken to put an end to the violence.

“If we remain silent, and if my colleagues are silenced, you should know that your tun is coming. I am not afraid of them, I did not fear Nikola Gruevski when his thugs threatened my family, I am not afraid of the DUI thugs nor those who are silent and sitting in the same government with them”,said Selmani.

At the beginning of the protest, the Minister in charge of communications, accountability and transparency, Robert Popovski, came to the government.

Popovski told reporters that the government and all its partners in the government coalition express the strongest condemnation of all attacks on journalists.

Selmani reacted and told Popovski “to put his dogs on a leash”.

“Obviously you are not doing enough to calm us, so I tell you – put the dogs on a leash! They are your dogs, these people are part of your coalition, there is no excuse . They must be put on a leash so they cannot bite, because if they do, it will be too late”, emphasized Selmani.

Journalist organizations react: Threats against journalists are an attack on democracy

Skopje, 9 March, 2018 - 14:50 (META) 

The Macedonian Media Institute (MIM), the Media Ethics Council of Macedonia (CEMM), the Independent Trade Union of Journalists and Media Workers (SSNM) and the Institute for Communication Studies (ICS) today categorically denounced the threats directed against the President of the Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM) Naser Selmani.

Yesterday, Selmani revealed that he had received death threats from people from DUI and that the MoI professionally acted upon the complaint, while the OSCE Special Representative for Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir and the entire diplomatic corps in Skopje, are treating this incident very seriously in a European context after the killings of journalists in Malta and Slovakia.

“For us, It is completely unacceptable to prevent the freedom of expression and the professional work of journalists, which should be free of any pressure and blackmail. Making threats to journalists is at the same time, an attack on democracy and limits the ability of the public to have access to information and ideas of a different kind. We urge the relevant institutions to act promptly and take the necessary measures to solve the case and prevent the recurrence of such incidents. We remind that the state, that, in accordance with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, it is responsible for undertaking all active measures in order to create and maintain a favorable climate for freedom of expression”, read the reaction from organizations and institutes.

President Ivanov’s Cabinet: Selmani has been misinformed, the certificates are for associates

Skopje, 26 February, 2018 - 19:07 (META) 

The cabinet of the President of the Republic of Macedonia, Gjorge Ivanov, has issued a press release that denies the information shared by the President of the Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJN) Naser Selmani, that the cabinet has been issuing security certificates to journalists.

The press release states that Selmani has been misinformed.

“In the process of implementation of urgent reformatory priorities regarding safety issues, including the legal obligation that the president of the Republic of Macedonia to create the defense strategy, the council is planning activities where we think experts – journalists should be included. According to legal enactments for working with classified information, the journalists must have a security certificate issued by an authorized state organ, DBKI. As part of the planned activities we expect the journalists to provide opinion about ways of informing the public about raising the consciousness and the safety culture when working with classified information because of existence of high risk of generating fake news and planned leaking of information, which is eroding the institutions” said the reaction issued by Ivanov’s cabinet.

AT today’s press conference at AJN, Selmani said that Ivanov’s cabinet has basically tied the hands to journalists by offering to issue security certificates without the possibility for them to consult how it will reflect on their job.

AJM arranges easier access for journalists to public information

Skopje, 1 February, 2018 - 16:06 (META) 

The Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM) will sign a memorandum of cooperation with the Commission for the Protection of the Right of Free Access to Public Information, which will raise the level of social transparency and will facilitate the way journalists get information from state institutions  That was agreed upon at today’s meeting with the representatives from the AJM and the Commission.

With the memorandum of cooperation, training programs will be provided for journalists to effectively use the legal aspect of free access to public information, as well as public campaigns that will help institutions become more transparent.

According to Naser Selmani, the president of the journalist association, through closer cooperation between both bodies, journalists will find out more regarding the law for free access to public information. As for citizens and institutions, awareness will be raised concerning the openness of institutions. The head of the Commission, Gjorgji Slamkov, says that a new law must be adopted soon which should enable a better and more efficient functioning of this body.

This text is made within the framework of the project “Media Reform Observatory”, implemented by the Foundation for Internet and Society Metamorphosis, “Agora” Center for Promoting Civil Values ​​and the Platform for Investigative Journalism and Analyzes – PINA, with the financial support of the “Foundation Open” Society – Macefoom-logo-disklejmerdonia “. The content of the text is the sole responsibility of the authors and can in no way be considered to reflect the views of the “Open Society Foundation – Macedonia”.

AJM and PPO agree to review reports of hate speech against journalists

Skopje, 23 January, 2018 - 15:43 (META) 

Representatives of the Association of Journalists of Macedonia had a meeting today with public prosecutor Ljubomir Joveski, where they talked discussed improving the mutual cooperation for issues of common interest.

The prosecution informs that AJM president Naser Selmani expressed concern that in Macedonia there is a policy of impunity regarding violence against journalists. Selmani asked Joveski that the Public Prosecutor’s Office (PPO) speed up the process in these cases in order to bring the perpetrators to justice.

He complained that in the last period, the prosecution had rejected reports concerning hate speech against journalists, without any serious argumentation.

Selmani asked the PPO to go through the reports again and to see whether the prosecutors had acted responsibly.

“It was agreed to organize joint training programs for journalists and prosecutors in order to  improve the reporting of journalists and the actions of prosecutors regarding cases of freedom of speech. Prosecutor Joveski promised that he would hasten the dynamic for the cases of violence against journalists and he would review reported cases of hate speech against journalists. According to him the cooperation of the prosecutors office and the Association of Journalists of Macedonia is of mutual interest,” reads the statement from the PPO (Public Prosecutor’s Office).

Yesterday the AJM presented a report on the Freedom of the Media and the Security of Journalists in Macedonia for 2017, which says that in the past year in Macedonia, 18 attacks of journalists were registered, of which 13 were physical and verbal attacks, while others were insulted, obstruction at work and destruction of the property.

According to yesterday’s announcement, the AJM is concerned that even after the change of power, the prosecution does not show much interest in processing these attacks.


The text is created within the framework of the project “Media Reform Observatory”, implemented by the Foundation for Internet and Society Metamorphosis, “Agora” Center for Promoting Civil Values ​​and the Platform for Investigative Journalism and Analyzes – PINA, with the financial support of the “Foundation Open” Society – Macefoom-logo-disklejmerdonia “. The content of the text is the sole responsibility of the authors and can in no way be considered to reflect the views of the “Open Society Foundation – Macedonia”.

AJM: 18 journalists were attacked last year and no one has been held accountable

Skopje, 22 January, 2018 - 18:45 (META) 

Last year, in Macedonia, 18 attacks nf journalists were reported, of which 13 were physical and verbal attacks, while the rest were insults, obstruction at work and the destruction of property, according to the Report on the Freedom of the Media and the Safety of Journalists in Macedonia for 2017 which was presented today, by the Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM).

He expressed his concern that the prosecution has so far failed to charge anyone before the courts against violence against journalists and hate speech.

Last year in Macedonia, journalists were blackmailed, persecuted, beaten, they received death threats, and were declared traitors. These thugs physically and verbally attack journalists because they want to intimidate and silence them, to prevent the public from finding about the abuse of power in government”, said AJM president, Naser Selmani.

Selmani pointed out that the most brutal physical attack on journalists was carried out during the violence that occured in Parliament on April 27th, last year.

“These thugs physically attacked journalists and cameramen and prevented them from reporting from Parliament.During the incident, their cameras and mobile telephones were confiscated. In addition, some of them, under the threat of weapons, were held hostage for hours, and the police did not provide them with any protection”, said Selmani.

The AJM report concludes that despite the lack of job security, journalists in Macedonia also work under extremely bad economic conditions. They have small and irregular wages, and they do not have permanent employment contracts,  which negatively affects their professional independence.