Pisonero: Arrest of Serbian journalist a great concern, media freedom must be preserved

European Commission; Photo: European Union

BRUSSELS – The arrest of the journalist Ana Lalić for her reporting on the coronavirus is of “great concern”, stated Ana Pisonero, European Commission’s Spokesperson for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy.

“Freedom of media is key at all times, and must be preserved. In a time of emergency like the one we are facing, it is of utmost importance that emergency measures are not at the expense of fundamental principles and values. Media and journalists have a key role to play in informing the public of critical information and monitors government actions”, stated Pisonero.

Nova.rs journalist Ana Lalić was arrested on 1 April on charges of spreading panic and unrest after she reported on working conditions of the medical staff in the Clinical Centre of Vojvodina (KCV), and was held in custody because of the danger that she could repeat the crime. She was meanwhile released from prison on 2 April.

The arrest came only a few days after the government of Serbia adopted Conclusions that information on the COVID-19 should be centralized. After the outrcry over Lalić’s arrest, PM Ana Brnabić announced that the Conclusions will be revoked.

“We welcome the decision of the Government to take back measures introduced for the centralization of public information on the coronavirus pandemic during the current state of emergency and ensure the freedom of the press”, stated Pisonero.