Kosovo’s Parliament Must Protect Freedom of Expression in Revising Criminal Code | Freedom House

Kosovo’s Parliament Must Protect Freedom of Expression in Revising Criminal Code

Washington

Freedom House calls on Kosovo’s parliament to comply with international norms and recommendations regarding freedom of expression and of the press, as it deliberates over two articles of its criminal code dealing with criminal liability and the disclosure of information sources.

The proposed Article 37 of the code, which would allow for the criminal prosecution of editors, journalists, and proprietors for unspecified offences committed through the media, poses an ominous threat to freedom of expression and could encourage broad self-censorship.  It should be removed entirely, in accordance with Article 19 of the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which assert the right to freedom of expression without interference by public authorities.

Article 38 regulates cases in which journalists may be legally compelled to disclose their information sources.  Freedom House agrees with the recommendations of civil society and media monitoring organizations in Kosovo that the article is worded too broadly in its current state, and should be revised—rather than removed—in accordance with the Council of Europe’s “Recommendation 1950,” to limit the forced disclosure of sources to “exceptional circumstances where vital public or individual interests are at stake and can be convincingly established.”

“Removal of article 38 would be a significant setback for the media and political climate in Kosovo, a country still struggling to overcome instability and injustice,” said Karin Deutsch Karlekar, project director for Freedom House’s annual Freedom of the Press report.  “Ensuring that journalists are free to responsibly investigate such sensitive issues as corruption, electoral fraud, and other aspects of government conduct without fear of legal reprisals are vital to ensuring that the country remains on a positive democratic course.”

Kosovo’s independent media rating is significantly below the average score among the Central European and Eurasian countries monitored in Freedom House’s recently released Nations in Transit 2012 survey.  While the constitution enshrines media freedoms, they are not always protected in practice, and journalists continue to face political pressure and harassment.

Kosovo is rated Partly Free in Freedom House’s Freedom in the World 2012 and Freedom of the Press 2012 surveys.

For more information, visit:

Nations in Transit 2012: Kosovo

Freedom in the World 2011: Kosovo

Freedom of the Press 2011: Kosovo

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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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