Macdonald: Media freedom is of central importance for UN in BiH and the world
26 June 2023
Author: FENA, N1 Sarajevo
The Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ingrid Macdonald, noted Monday at the conference 'Media Innovation and Trends - Media Freedom and Shaping the Future of Media' organized by the FBiH News Agency (FENA) in Sarajevo that media freedoms are a topic that is of central importance for the United Nations not only in Bosnia and Herzegovina but around the world.
“This is something we're working on and support, not only as representatives of the UN Secretary-General in BiH but also UNESCO, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and others,” said Macdonald, who was the keynote speaker of the first panel at the conference.
Concerned about the situation in which the media and journalists are at the global level, she stated that the UN has established a comprehensive Plan of Action for the Safety of Journalists to end impunity for crimes committed against them.
“We're not just talking about physical attacks, but also online, economic and legal attacks. There are many ways to attack and threaten journalists,” Macdonald said.
In recent statements during World Press Freedom Day, she recalled, the UN Secretary-General emphasized the need to address attacks on journalists and stressed the importance of halting attacks on those who speak the truth.
“Unfortunately, we didn't notice that the situation at the global level has improved. Journalists and truth are still and to an increasing extent victims,” she said.
As an example, she cited the Covid-19 pandemic campaign, where there is great concern that facts are being misinterpreted, used and abused.
“This is often seen here on the political side, but also in other areas, such as climate change. Not only are journalists attacked, but also scientists, doctors, technicians and others. This causes great concern of the UN,” said Macdonald.
Speaking about Bosnia, she said that the latest developments on the political scene, especially the proposed criminalization of insult and slander, cause concern, and that this could be used to suppress critical voices in the media and among journalists.
She added that the comments of UN Special Rapporteurs on freedom of opinion, expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and association, especially the criminalization of insults, are definitive and explicit in terms of democratic standards, and freedom of expression is very important, and it is necessary to achieve that balance.
“It is important that the authorities withdraw the proposed draft amendments and the criminalization of defamation and insults because they are contrary to the standards,” Macdonald noted.
The UN office in BiH, she said, published a comprehensive report on the safety of journalists, and does so continuously in order to highlight the importance of the topic.
“Many will say that there are numerous challenges that journalists face in performing their work. Not only are there political pressures on the media that are noticeable, but also economic pressures, verbal attacks, threats, online and judicial harassment, limiting the right to access information,” she stressed.
She concluded by saying that the UN is fully dedicated to providing support and facilitating journalists’ work in BiH, ensuring better protection of journalists in a more favourable environment for the media.