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Court verdict on Serbia media law seen as victory for press freedom

File picture of the Serbian Parliament in session.

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has welcomed a landmark decision by the Constitutional Court of Serbia rejecting repressive amendments to the Public Information Act of Serbia.

The Journalists' Association of Serbia (JAS), an EFJ affiliate, has won its appeal against the Act after its adoption by the Serbian Parliament in August 2009. In the ruling of July 22, the court found in favour of JAS and rejected the repressive amendments to articles 14, 16, 92, 93 and 95 of the Public Information Act.

The court said the amendments passed by the Parliament violated the country's constitution and international conventions that govern the freedom of expression. In particular, the court held that the provisions prescribing who can found a media outlet and penalty clauses in the Act are in breach of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

"This is a major victory for press freedom," said Aidan White, EFJ General Secretary. "The Court's decision strikes down a chilling attack on free expression and unequivocally vindicates the action taken by our colleagues in Serbia."

"The proposed amendments to the Act would have imposed an enormous restraint on press freedom in Serbia, resulting in stifling the media, as well as in self-censorship," added White. " We congratulate our affiliate in Serbia for their commitment to fight this violation of citizens' rights."

EFJ warned of new threats to press freedom in Serbia, saying that the law on Electronic Communications passed by the Serbian Parliament on June 29 will threaten protection of journalists' sources. "Protection of sources is a cornerstone of press freedom and EFJ will support its affiliate in Serbia to also strike down this draconian law," concluded White.

Date posted: July 28, 2010 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 295