EBU Backs Kosovo Media on Contested Criminal Code

The European Broadcasting Union has sided with Kosovo journalists in their dispute with the authorities over a new criminal code that they say undermines freedom of the media.The European Broadcasting Union, EBU, has urged Kosovo to make changes to its new criminal code that allegely undermine media freedom and have a chilling effect on freedom of expression.EBU’s Director General, Ingrid Deltenre, urged Kosovo to develop a legal framework based more clearly on the European Convention on Human Rights.

Quoting Article 10 of the Convention, she told BIRN that “rather than [just] remove Article 38 from the criminal code, the Kosovo parliament should strengthen media protection even further by adopting the Council of Europe standards and Recommendations, and European countries’ best practices.”

Kosovo reporters have complained especially bitterly about Article 38 of the new criminal code, which penalizes journalists for libel and obliges them to reveal their sources. Many of them joined a public protest in April, after the new code was adopted by parliament.

Journalists fear that this new provision will be misused for corrupt purposes by politicians to silence the media.

The EBU Director General wrote that the promise of confidentiality is vital for investigative reporting and media freedom, and that protection of sources constitutes a basic condition for reporting in a free media.

“This is an opportunity for the Kosovo parliament to demonstrate its commitment to an open society, which is an indispensable requirement for the progress and development of every individual,” Deltenre told BIRN on Wednesday.

Kosovo’s parliamentary legislative committee will be voting this week on the possible removal of Article 38 from the criminal code.

A number of international media rights organizations including “Reporteurs sans Frontieres” and the regional South-Eastern Europe Media Organization, SEEMO, have supported the Kosovo media over Article 38 and hav e expressed worries about the criminal code in general.

The European Broadcasting Union, founded in 1950, is the largest association of national broadcasters in the world and exists to promote the values and distinctiveness of public service media in Europe and around the world.

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