UNMIK and Kosovo Institutions Responsible for Journalists’ Security in Kosovo

Vesna Bojičić, a Voice of America journalist, has been physically assaulted in Kosovo for the fifth time since June 1999. She was assaulted for the first time after the international troops deployed to Kosovo in late June 1999 in her apartment in Pristina. The second time was in April 2000 in the Pristina Media House building.

The third time was on 17 March 2004 in her apartment in Pristina, when it was set on fire. The fourth assault happened in February 2005 while she was reporting on Serbian President, Boris Tadić’s visit to Kosovo. The last assault occurred on 16 October 2007 in her apartment in Caglavica, near Pristina. Besides these assaults, she has received numerous verbal threats by phone and in person.

The Humanitarian Law Center and the HLC – Kosovo believe that Vesna Bojičić is a target because of her professional work and critical reporting on the international administration, Kosovo institutions, leaders of the Serb enclaves and Serbian authorities. International and Kosovo Police have not conducted an effective investigation into any one of these assaults and none of the assailants have been brought to justice. UNMIK and Kosovo Government share responsibility for the assaults on journalist Vesna Bojičić since they have failed to implement a single measure to provide professional working conditions and security of life for Vesna Bojičić – the only Serbian journalist who continued to work in Priština after June 1999 – and her son.

Around 02:00 on 16 October 2007, Vesna Bojičić heard somebody knocking quietly on her door. She thought it could have been one of the neighbours, who knew that her son was sick and she hurried to open the door before her son woke up. When she opened the door, she saw a man in a black uniform without any insignia wearing a black mask over his face. There was another man, also wearing a uniform and a mask, and he had a knife hung on his belt. He was standing in the bottom of the staircase. He looked as if he was keeping guard. The man at the door said they had come to talk to her. When Vesna told them to take the black masks off their faces, the man said that they would not do that because of what they had come to do. Then he pushed her from the door into the hallway and hit her in the face. He continued punching and kicking and pulling her by the hair. All this time he was telling her things like “American whore, Shiptar whore … if I don’t make you shut up this way, then I’ll do it with a bullet through your head, but first I’ll kidnap your child”. The beating lasted for five minutes and as the men were leaving, the assailant told her “I hope that we understood each other well”.

The HLC is calling upon the Kosovo institutions to take all necessary measures in order to protect the physical integrity and dignity of journalists, who, like Vesna Bojičić, are risking their lives, for the wellbeing of Kosovo society.

Point of Contact:
Bekim Blakaj