The Council of Media Ethics of Macedonia (CMEM) strongly condemns yesterday's assault on the journalistic team of the news portal A1 On and expresses concern that the incident confirms biased attempts to threaten press freedom and public's right to be informed.
This is not an isolated incident and the tendency of violence and obstruction of the work of journalists and media workers continues to be a serious problem. Considering the seriousness of the situation, we call for an immediate response by the Police and the Public Prosecutor's Office to take the necessary measures and clarify the incidents. The impunity for attacks to the media is unacceptable, while the safety of journalists must be improved and any threats and pressures to them must be removed.
In compliance with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the state is obliged to take all active measures and create and maintain an enabling environment for freedom of expression. We remind that this liability also arises from the recommendations of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on the protection of the press and safety of journalists and other media actors.
At the same time, we remind on last year's Freedom House report, according to which media in Macedonia are subject to political pressure and harassment, resulting in self-censorship, while the state is assessed as non-free on the status of press freedom.
On the other hand, the Council of Media Ethics notes that in the past few days there are frequent cases of abuse of the role of media and their use as a platform to fuel and increase tensions in the society. We remind journalists and editors of their important and significant role, especially in the context of the current political situation, and calm down the tensions, especially in cases when there are assessments for possible escalation of the events.
It is not in compliance with journalistic standards to report with speculations and to initiate a debate on the basis of lies and propaganda. Media must not be abused for calls to unite individuals and groups around radical behavior and actions that threaten order and peace in the society. The lack of media freedom must not be used as a reason of misconduct and placement of lies that permanently damage journalism and the public interest.
The Council of Media Ethics has received so far about 200 complaints on unprofessional media reporting. We reiterate that we will observe the way the media inform, both those that are part of the CMEM, and media that are still not its members, and will call for strict adherence to the Code of Journalists as a prerequisite for affiliation to this professional body for self-regulation in the media.