Recommendations on media reform and independent journalism in Macedonia
Today, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the Association of Journalists of Macedonia (ZNM) and the Trade Union of Journalists and Media Workers (SSNM) organized the regional meeting: Campaigning for Journalists Rights in Eastern Europe: Union Recruitment, Legal Protection and Social Rights for journalists unions from across central and Eastern Europe. We decided that the status of journalism, the freedom of expression and the editorial independence in Macedonia should be the main issues covered at the meeting and we came up with the following recommendations for urgent reform of the Macedonia media space:
- Harmonization of the national legislation with the international standards on freedom of expression and ensuring its just application without discrimination;
- Elimination of all acts of pressure and improper restrictions on the independent and critically-oriented media; re-examination of all activities undertaken against journalists and offering compensation to victims of undue and unjust treatment. The same applies to the closure of several media houses and the court procedure against Tomislav Kezarovski;
- Impartiality of the courts and revision of court decisions in accordance with the international standards and practices;
- Training of judges on the proper application of the Law on Insult and Defamation in accordance with the international standards and practices; ensuring that state and party officials refrain from lawsuits against investigative journalists and media for disclosing information of public interest;
- Full transparency of the Government media campaigns with clear public interest based on objective criteria; the Government is one of the main advertisers in the private media;
- The state should guarantee the impartiality of the regulatory media body and protect it from partisan and economic influence;
- Guaranteed freedom of assembly of journalists and detailed investigation of the interference of the Government in the work of the unions and associations of journalists;
- Investigation of all cases of violence against journalists and bringing perpetrators to justice, putting an end to impunity;
- Undertaking measures to guarantee institutional and financial independence of the public broadcasting service;
- Ensuring that state institutions respond to citizens` requests for public information in a timely manner;
- Free journalism cannot exist when media workers work under condition of corruption, poverty and auto-censorship; consequently, the state must guarantee the minimum labor rights to association, collective bargaining and fair treatment at work.
The above can be achieved by:
- Undertaking measures against media owners who infringe labor and professional rights of media workers;
- Warranting the right to union membership at the work place without threats of dismissal;
- Promoting the right to trade union representation and collective bargaining.
12. Putting an end to all attempts to marginalize and discredit the work and role of the independent trade unions and professional associations founded to protect the rights of journalists and the independence and standards of the profession. The freedom of association must be absolutely guaranteed and protected;
13. Entering journalism and the right to be a journalist must not be regulated by any legislative definitions or regulations.
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
Independent Trade Union of Journalists and Media Workers (SSNM)
Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM)