North Macedonia

Association suspended after alleged sex education scandal; journalists targeted at local elections

A sex education scandal about an alleged scout “sex camp” hosted by civic association First Skopje Scout Squad garnered media attention for weeks and resulted in suspension from the Scouts Association. Subsequently it lost funding as the City of Skopje terminated their contract. Protests were organised in Tetovo after a modular COVID-19 hospital in the city caught fire on 8th September 2021, killing 14 patients. Residents of Tetovo demanded responsibility from the authorities, emphasising that the investigation has been dragging on too long without any result. Five people were detained during protests. During the local elections, several journalists faced insults, verbal attacks and attempts at public discrediting. Read more

Association suspended after alleged sex education scandal; journalists targeted at local elections

Protests staged on LGBTI rights, environmental rights and infrastructure

Several protests were staged during this period. The second Pride Parade was held in Skopje on 26th June 2021, after last year's one was postponed due to COVID-19. Environmental activists and concerned citizens organised a protest after the cutting of 13 trees in the city centre. A protest was held during June 2021 where locals expressed their dissatisfaction with the government's failure to solve a decade-old problem for the local communities – the lack of a regional road between the settlements within the municipality of Makedonski Brod and Skopje. Read more

Protests staged on LGBTI rights, environmental rights and infrastructure

Protests on anniversary of “Bloody Thursday”; concerning court ruling for journalism profession

Several protests took place during this period. On the fourth anniversary of the events of 27th April 2017 - when a mob stormed North Macedonia’s parliament and injured many people, also known as “Bloody Thursday” - patriotic organisations from the country and the diaspora organised all-Macedonian peaceful protests. Parents from the initiative "Textbooks and classes must exist" marched through Skopje and organised peaceful protests in several cities on 15th May 2021. The Basic Civil Court in Skopje rejected a lawsuit which dealt with obstructing citizens’ right to information and for non-material damage for the fear and emotional pain. The ruling has raised concerns for the journalism profession. Read more

Protests on anniversary of “Bloody Thursday”; concerning court ruling for journalism profession

Online harassment via Telegram sparks protest

Several protests took place during the reporting period on environmental rights, eduation, labour and womens rights. Global voices condemned an online hate campaign against the Metamorphosis Foundation. In addition, media organisations raised concerns over the process of amending the Law on Audio and Audiovisual Media Services, initiated by a group of ruling majority MPs. Read more

Online harassment via Telegram sparks protest

Skopje court fails to protect journalists as they continue to come under attack

Around 2,000 demonstrators gathered in an anti-government protest, calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Zoran Zaev. The protest, which was staged by supporters of the opposition VMRO-DPMNE party, was in reaction to an interview of the PM in which he commented on the history between Bulgaria and North Macedonia. The Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM) condemned the decision of the Basic Civil Court in Skopje after it rejected the lawsuits of two journalists against the alleged violation of their rights by the state. The case centres around the events of the 2017 “Bloody Thursday” at Parliament where journalists were insulted and beaten. The decision comes amid a number of attacks against journalists. Read more

Skopje court fails to protect journalists as they continue to come under attack

Calls for attacks on journalists to be addressed, amid impact on media sector due to COVID-19

COVID-19, and the subsequent economic crisis, are said to have permanently reshaped the media landscape in North Macedonia. While the government has intervened by providing three million euros in aid to the media sector, critics have pointed to the dangers of state support, particularly in reference to the importance of preserving editorial independence. Attacks against journalists have continued: on 9th September 2020, two Al Jazeera Balkans journalists were attacked at a protest staged by the right wing opposition party VMRO-DPMNE in Skopje. The Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM) demanded that attacks on journalists and media workers be sanctioned and perpetrators be brought to justice
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Calls for attacks on journalists to be addressed, amid impact on media sector due to COVID-19

LGBTI activist attacked; female journalists face rape and death threats on social media

LGBTI activist and president of LGBTI United from Tetovo, Bekim Asani, has been a victim of a physical attack near his office. The attack was carried out by two people who inflicted injuries on his face. The ruling party, the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM), strongly condemned the physical attack on the activist and called on institutions to find and punish the attackers. However, no one has been detained yet. In the meantime, Asani has been receiving death threats which state that he should drop the charges connected to the attack. During the reporting period, two female journalists received threats because of their journalistic work.On 11th July 2020 journalist and correspondent in MIA (Media Information Agency), Tanja Milevska, received dozens of messages containing verbal abuses, hate speech, death and rape threats on Twitter and Facebook. Later in July 2020, journalist for Sloboden Pecat (Free Press), Miroslava Burns, received a series of threats on her personal Facebook profile.

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LGBTI activist attacked; female journalists face rape and death threats on social media

Group protests against ‘false pandemic’ and 5G, while other protests are called off

Since the civil society sector was also affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has reconsidered its previous decision to cut state budget funding to CSOs and decided to include CSOs for economic assistance measures. While one protest against government’s restrictions to fight the COVID-19 pandemic was cancelled, another was held against what they consider to be “a false pandemic”. In a concerning development which may undermine freedom of speech in the country, government has decided to cut seven million euros of funding from Macedonian Radio Television. Meanwhile, Professor Katica Kulavkova, a member of the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts, has been condemned for a hateful tweet which is said to promote intolerance among ethnic communities during the COVID-19 outbreak. NGOs expressed concern that in the upcoming pre-election period, there would be an increase in hate speech which needs to be addressed adequately by the authorities. Read more

Group protests against ‘false pandemic’ and 5G, while other protests are called off

Funding cuts and no economic assistance for CSOs during COVID-19

Amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) induced economic crisis, the government decided to exclude CSOs from its economic assistance measures. In a separate development, on 18th May 2020 activists expressed outrage after the Constitutional Court struck down the Anti-Discrimination Law which was passed last year, citing procedural omission as a reason. During the pandemic the government made provision for media workers to have special permits to do field work even during the curfew hours, during which there is limited movement for the general public. The Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM) called for better communication and transparency from government institutions and health centres during the pandemic.
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Funding cuts and no economic assistance for CSOs during COVID-19

Media watchdogs raise the alarm after female journalists threatened

As previously documented by the CIVICUS Monitor, journalists in North Macedonia have faced smears and public vilification for their work. Yet, recently media rights groups have highlighted a spike in threats against female media workers. On 15th January 2020, the Association of Journalists in North Macedonia reacted to two journalists being sent threatening messages. Read more

Media watchdogs raise the alarm after female journalists threatened