BBC
Kosovo media clampdown

By Nicholas Wood

Thursday, 18 May, 2000


There is pressure on the UN authorities in Kosovo to introduce new press laws following the murder of a Serbian translator in the province.
Petar Topoljski, 25, was employed in the UN headquarters in Pristina.
He was found stabbed to death in a village near the city.
A local newspaper had published his name and address late last month accusing him of having been a Serb paramilitary.
He was abducted in the middle of the city 10 days later whilst being sent to buy an airline ticket for his UN superior.
One UN official said the article was the clearest cut case of incitement to violence he had seen.

"Naming somebody as a Serbian paramilitary is signing their death warrant," he said.

Embarrassment
The murder comes as a considerable embarrassment to the UN.
The OSCE which is in charge of media monitoring in the province, reported on the article when it was first published but no action was taken.
Susan Manuel, a spokeswomen for the UN said: "We all failed. Everybody had access to the OSCE's monitoring report but nobody did anything about it."
It is not the first time the local press has named UN employees in this way.
Earlier this year Zeri e Kosoves named two Serb members of the OSCE as war criminals.
The pair left Kosovo protected by OSCE security guards.

Collaborating
The newspaper then praised the organisation for "taking action", but then went on to name one of the security guards accusing him of "collaborating" with the Serbs.
According to Douglas Davidson, the head of the OSCE's media division, "There is increasing incidence of this type of reporting in Kosovo's local press."
He added that the UN is looking at new ways of regulating the media.
New laws on broadcast media are expected to be introduced soon and there is now increasing pressure for new press regulations.

Laws not effective
The UN has already introduce laws on so called "hate speech".
Anyone found guilty of inciting violence can be imprisoned for up to eight years.
But according to Mr Davidson, no body in the UN has been given responsibility for pursuing violations of the law.
What is more he says the law can only be applied very narrowly.
"There are numerous examples of articles that don't qualify for the hate speech laws.
"That's an on going problem and we are reviewing ways to address it."
But any attempts to regulate the press may meet strong resistance.
Kosovo's most respected daily, Kohar Ditore, has published similar articles.
Its editor Baton Haxhui maintains papers should have the right to expose people they believe were guilty of crimes during the war.
Just this Monday, "Kohar" published an article in which it named a student at Kosovo's police training school, claiming he had collaborated with Serbs during the war.
Mr Haxhiu denied the practice exposes people to any danger.
"Dita was doing it's job"' said Mr Haxhui. "I don't think he (Petar Topoljski) was killed because of Dita.
"Dita was saying to UNMIK, you have some body bad inside, it was up to them to do something about it."
Nevertheless, following Mr Topoljski's death he said he would not publish peoples names in future articles.
He also warned that any attempts to regulate the press will not be welcomed.
"It's not up to UNMIK and the OSCE to put pressure on the media.
"If they do that they can expect us to turn against them."



Original article