Being able to speak freely has been a long standing need due the oppression that Kosovo endured for decades. Praising those authors, journalists and freedom activists who used the verbal or the written word against oppression and genocide, I can’t help but think of the brutality and torture they went through just the for the sake of seeking the truth and writing about it. Today I want to talk about the current threat looming over those journalists who do their best to find and expose the truth. These journalists are active, fully engaged and dedicated.
Two new articles to Kosovo’s Penal Code were approved April 20, articles 37 and 38. Article 37 threatens the freedom of the journalists, editors, publishers and even printing houses when dealing with stories that might contain a penal case, and article 38 obliges journalists to reveal their sources of information (in cases when an individual’s life or his or her physical integrity is at risk). Although there have been debates held and articles written about the obscure way in which the laws were framed, it is exactly this legal and professional instability I perceive as a threat to freedom of speech in Kosovo. I see it as a threat to pluralism and the diversity of views, it seeks to expose the identity of those who should be prevented from harm and abuse.
Why should sources of information be kept anonymous? First of all it is vital to democratic discourses that the citizens involved in a case are protected from the views of an intolerant society segmented into political groups. On the other side an anonymous source of information literally saves lives. It is a fundamental right that the identities of those involved in a case that wish to remain anonymous must remain anonymous. Governmental dominance and control on the fragile democracy in Kosovo and the weak legal system do not provide sound reasons in to reveal the source of journalists’ information as is required by article 38.
Good journalism is controversial since it goes after the powerful. Instead of glorifying their authority they prove why they should or should not be where they are, and whether they should hold the power they have. When such exposure takes place, the controversy caused is what makes it interesting and necessary to continue investigating. The unsatisfying level of development in Kosovo is what makes controversy desirable since it is what can potentially bring about change.
The written and spoken word remains fragile due to post-war resettlement, the reconsolidation of institutions and the fragility of our newborn country. Taking into consideration this conflicted state of affairs, freedom of speech should be the subject of proper, coherent and well-defined laws in order to encourage not only investigative journalism but democracy as well.
The article was originally written in English.
Illustration: Jan Nascimbene
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