Investigative journalist targeted for the second time, others face death threats

Investigative journalist targeted for the second time, others face death threats
Journalists have faced death threats in recent months (Photo by Ferdi Limani / Getty Images).

Peaceful Assembly

Between 1st October 2020 and 25th November 2020, the following protests were held in Kosovo:

  • Health workers protested asking for better working conditions during the pandemic under the motto "you called us heroes, so do not kill us now". In addition they are also requesting improved safety measures in their workplaces.
  • A group of farmers, supported by the Federation of Farmers Kosovo, gathered from all over the country in front of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development, requesting a meeting with the Minister. They refused to make their concerns or requests public and insisted on a meeting with the Minister.
  • Two civil society activists, Nesrete Kumnova, chairwoman of the "Mothers' Calls" and KWN Executive Director Igballe Rogova, Executive Director of Kosovo Women’s Network protested silently for half an hour in front of the Kosovo Government building, holding "Selmanaj ik" banners in their hands. This protest comes after controversial statements about missing people made by the Deputy Prime Minister Selmanaj. The activists called for the dismissal of the deputy PM. In a letter to the Prime Minister the Women’s Network said:
The families of the missing never stopped. Since the end of the war, they have constantly protested, demonstrated and raised their voices demanding answers from the government. We have stayed with them, listening to their stories and calls for truth. The Government of Kosovo never gave the deserved priority to this issue." (translated from Albanian).
  • Technical workers of several public institutions in a protest demanded wage increases.
  • A group of Dental Healthcare professionals protested demanding employment in the public health institutions.
  • Workers of the national Telecom protested in front of their building demanding that the government take action on the freezing of the Telecom’s bank accounts, which comes as a result of the company being embroiled in a legal battle with a private operator.

Expression

The following cases were documented during 1st October and 25th November 2020:

The Ministry of Internal Affairs announced that restrictions imposed on the free movement of citizens, as part of government’s measures to combat the spread of COVID-19, are not applicable to journalists and other media workers.

The office of the Prime Minister has not yet appointed a media spokesperson. This has resulted in difficulties in access to information for journalists and other media workers.

On the grounds of increased risk for coronavirus infection due to the lack of space for maintaining social distancing, media journalists were not allowed to attend the Parliamentary commission of Inquiry meeting on hydropower plants.

Incidents against journalists

  • On 10th October 2020 the editorial office of the Gazeta express news portal was broken into by a man who threatened to kill the journalists present if they did not remove a news article about him published on the site days earlier. Police arrested the suspect, known to the public as actor and producer Naser Qeli. The Association of Journalists of Kosovo (AJK) condemned the threats. Gentiana Begolli Pustina, President of the Board of AJK, said:
“This is not only a threat to free speech and democracy, it is a threat against our colleagues’ lives and should be treated as such by the relevant institutions.”
  • Shkumbin Kajtazi, an investigative journalist working for Reporteri.net and Jepi zë., was subject to an attack believed to be related to his journalistic work. The journalist announced on his Facebook page that unidentified attackers fired several bullets at his car that broke the window and left holes in the front and back seats. This isn't the first time that the journalist had been subject to attack.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called for authorities to immediately investigate:

“Kosovo authorities must thoroughly investigate the shooting attack on journalist Shkumbin Kajtazi, determine whether the attack was related to his work, and bring those responsible to justice. Kosovo authorities must maximize their efforts to prevent such attacks and ensure that Shkumbin Kajtazi can carry out his work without fear,”- Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia programme coordinator in New York.