WASHINGTON– Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) and Co-Chairman Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), issued the following statement in light of recent events surrounding Belgrade-based independent broadcaster B92.
“I am extremely concerned about the instances of violence in Serbia perpetrated against B92 and its journalists in connection with their professional responsibilities,” said Chairman Hastings.
In the wake of Kosovo’s decision to declare its independence, B92 has been under constant attack, where the station was seiged by angry protestors, death threats continue against the station and its founder as well as threats against its journalists.
“No matter the editorial views of B92, Serbian authorities have an obligation to ensure the protection of all journalists,” noted Co-Chairman Cardin.
“We are troubled by reports coming out of Belgrade surrounding B92 and are baffled as to why nothing has been done. It is incumbent that the safety of B92 and its employees is ensured and that the authorities seek to find and prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes. A free media provides a forum for the public to express their opinions and exchange alternative points of view, B92 must be protected under the law and allowed to express their point of view to the public,” said Co-Chairmen Hastings and Cardin. “The same need for protection applies to ethnic Albanian citizens of Serbia, and the prosecution of those who have targeted them for harassment and property damage since Kosovo’s declared independence, just as it applies to the U.S. and other embassies that were attacked two weeks ago.”