“Serbia is a country with weak institutions that is prey to fake news spread by government-backed sensational media, a country where journalists are subjected to almost daily attacks that increasingly come from the ruling elite and pro-government media,” it is said in 2021 World Press Freedom Index Report, published by Reporters Without Frontiers (RSF) on April 20, which ranked Serbia 93, unchanged from the previous year.
“The government used the coronavirus crisis to pass draconian legislation - later repealed - under which journalist Ana Lalic was held overnight in a cell in April 2020 after being arrested at her home for a report about a local hospital,” according to RSF.
“During anti-government demonstrations, journalists were the victims of violence by both protesters and police, who made arbitrary arrests,” the report said, adding that “in many cases, the authorities were quick to identify those responsible for crimes of violence against journalists, but were much less likely to conduct successful prosecutions.”
“Independent media outlets, many of them local ones, continue to cover dangerous subjects such as political corruption and organized crime despite being weakened by the coronavirus crisis and omitted from the distribution state funding, which went to pro-government media,” RSF said in the report.
According to RSF press freedom index for 2021, Kosovo ranks 78, Montenegro 104, North Macedonia 90, Albania 83, Croatia 56, while Slovenia is top scorer in the region, at 36th spot.