Judicial pressure on KRIK is a threat to media freedom in Serbia 

Civil Rights Defenders condemns an unprecedented form of pressure and the recent lawsuits filed by Judge of the Court of Appeal in Belgrade Dušanka Đorđević against our partner, the Crime and Corruption Reporting Network (KRIK). The lawsuits, which seek monetary compensation, a two-year occupational ban for KRIK journalists, and 10-month prison sentences, represent an alarming attempt to stifle independent journalism and prevent critical reporting on the Serbian judiciary. 

The lawsuits stem from KRIK’s database “Judge Who Judges,” an investigative project examining the work and integrity of Serbian judges, including Judge Đorđević. In the lawsuits, filed together with her husband for alleged violation of the right to privacy, Judge Đorđević, known for her role in the acquittal of the accused in the murder of journalist Slavko Ćuruvija, claims that KRIK journalists are “putting a target” on her and aiding criminals in locating her. 

KRIK firmly believes that these lawsuits constitute an unprecedented form of pressure on media freedom, aimed at intimidating journalists and obstructing their essential work in holding the judiciary accountable. 

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that KRIK has been targeted with smear campaigns, threats, and SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation), designed to silence their investigative work. These tactics aim to not only intimidate, but also financially drain the organisation, undermining their ability to report on the critical issues. Moreover, the targeting of KRIK is part of a broader negative trend in Serbia, where investigative journalists and media outlets are frequently subjected to harassment and smear campaigns.   

Civil Rights Defenders stands in solidarity with KRIK and all journalists facing such threats. We call on the Serbian authorities to uphold the principles of transparency and freedom of the press, ensuring that journalists can work without fear of retaliation. The right to report on matters of public interest, including the actions and integrity of judges, is fundamental to a democratic society and must be protected. 

We urge the international community to join us in supporting KRIK and defending the freedom of the press in Serbia. It is crucial that we stand together against any attempts to undermine the essential role of journalism in safeguarding human rights and democracy. 

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