“Justice for David” activists detained yet again
‘Justice for David’ activists face off against police
Members of the informal group Justice for David gathered and requested a court decision regarding the dozen criminal charges they received on 14th May 2020 (see previous update) due to an unreported public gathering. The court later rejected the charges as unfounded. The members of the group also filed a court claim of discrimination against the Ministry for Internal affairs.
However, in early July 2020, police in the mainly Serbian town Banja Luka in Bosnia once again arrested members of the Justice for David group, which also formed the “Movement of Justice” political party, while they attempted to hold a press conference. Later on, in a press release, the police said that they had “arrested nine members and activists of the political party ‘Movement of Justice’ because they violated the Law on Public Order and Peace and the Law on Public Gatherings”. The police further stated that the organisers of the public gathering did not have a permit from the city of Banja Luka to occupy the public area. The arrested activists were released shortly afterwards. Following this, criminal charges were filed against 11 police officers, members of the Banja Luka Police Department and a duty inspector at the Centar Police Station for illegal deprivation of liberty of the members of the informal group "Justice for David" and "Movement of Justice".
In addition, the following protests were documented during the reporting period:
- More than 1,000 people joined protests in Sarajevo which were organised by the newly formed political party “Platform for Change”. The protests called for an end to corruption and changes in the law on elections.
- For the eighth year in a row, on 31st May 2020, to commemorate the International Day of White Ribbons, the citizens of Prijedor peacefully marched in memory of more than 3,000 people killed (including 102 children) in the Prijedor municipality from 1992 to 1995. Due to COVID19 restrictions there were only 50 people in attendance.
A recent survey conducted by the Association of BH Journalists on the impact of COVID-19 on the position of female journalists revealed concerning results that more than 10 percent of female journalists in Bosnia and Herzegovina have lost their jobs since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey finds that female journalists were more impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic than their male counterparts. As one participant states:
"It is difficult for a woman to organise work from home. Her private and business obligations are intertwined, so most of them probably found themselves in the position that the working day lasts from morning until late at night. "
Another journalist remarked:
"It simply came to our notice then. Unfortunately, I have witnessed many situations, like most of us, where they have been exposed to many pressures, gender-based insults, name-calling, and even violence. "
In a separate development, at the beginning of June 2020, journalist at RTV Zenica, Sinan Gluhic was physically attacked by Sulejman Spahić, a politician of the Party of Democratic Activity (A-SDA). The attack was preceded by days of verbal death threats and insults on social media, believed to be connected to the journalist’s post on social media regarding the delayed construction of a local road. The BH Journalists Association strongly condemned the threats and the physical attack and demanded an urgent investigation into this incident and appropriate sanctions.
“It is unacceptable for any person, let alone a political party or its members, to use force – physical, psychological, online or offline – against journalists. The attack on Gluhic is a clear case of political power abuse and violation of fundamental principles of media freedoms,” - Borka Rudic, secretary general of BH Journalists Association