Ineffective justice for attacks on journalists

Radio Free Europe reports that in June last year, in Mitrovica, Shkumbin Kajtazi, a journalist of Reporteri, while sitting in a cafe, was invited by Kosovo Police officers, who told him that there was a suspected attempt to set his car on fire.

Kajtazi told Radio Free Europe that the police and a prosecutor had gone to the site and they saw that gasoline had been thrown on his car, but that the suspects had not managed to set it on fire. Kajtazi said investigations into the case continued and that the prosecution has already filed an indictment against one person.

But this was only the first attack on the journalist. In October last year, his car came under attack by firearms. 

Besim Kelmendi, a prosecutor with the Office of State Prosecutor, told the news website that the attacks against Kajtazi are among over 35 cases filed during 2020 in the prosecutor’s office as attacks and threats against journalists. “From this total number, indictments were filed for five cases. In 14 cases, criminal proceedings did not start at all, because the journalists did not report the cases to the police or the prosecutor’s office or, simply, the prosecutor did not find elements of a criminal offense. Whereas, for 17 other cases, there are procedures to verify the information. For some, the investigation has begun and is expected to be completed and, then we will know if indictments will be filed or if the investigations will be terminated,” Kelmendi said. 

Valon Syla, a journalist, and director of Metro news website was attacked in the middle of the street in Prishtina in December last year. The Basic Court of Prishtina said in January that it had fined the attacker €4,500.

Gentiana Begolli, president of the Association of Journalists of Kosovo (AGK), told the news website that there is an increase in threats and attacks, whether verbal or physical, against journalists. She said this is argued by the number of cases submitted to the association in the last three years.

Ehat Miftaraj, from the Prishtina-based Kosovo Institute of Justice, said in an interview with the news website that while in the past there were only threats against journalists through social networks or various forms, now the people are seeing that journalists are attacked in the streets and beaten. He further argued that attacks on journalists have gone from isolated cases to a phenomenon.

RFE reports that the latest case of physical attack on a journalist in Kosovo was recorded on the night between 24 and 25 February year, in Fushë Kosovë. Visar Duriqi, a journalist of the online portal Insajderi, was physically attacked by three unknown persons and as a result, his teeth and nose were broken.