Freedom House: Kosovo media “partially free”; An international watchdog sounds the alarm over the government’s violation of press freedom.

According to a recently released “Freedom of the Press 2011″ survey published by the US-based watchdog Freedom House, Kosovo ranks 104th out of 196 countries in press freedom, qualifying it as only “partially free”.

An Association of Professional Journalists of Kosovo poll conducted on May 3rd indicates that the government of Kosovo is one of the major violators of media freedom in the country.

“The [absence of] the rule of law and lack of a functioning judicial system discourages journalists from reporting on high risk subjects,” chairman of the association Arben Ahmeti told SETimes.

“Kosovo is described as a transit place for drugs, and then it happened that 50kg of drugs were stolen from the police evidence room, where police keep confiscated evidence,” Ahmeti said. “Threats, blackmail and other forms of pressure stopped journalists from delving deeply into the issue,” he added.

He underlines that police take note of threats against journalists, but says “Those who threaten [journalists] are never punished. Even in one case when a journalist was seriously threatened and the person who threatened her was punished, he received a fine of only 350 euros, ironic under the circumstances.”

Now, the complaining journalist is in BIG trouble, since we know what happens to people who manage to get judgments against, or punishment administered, to Albanians.

…The government refutes the accusations and says the Freedom House report is incomplete. Government officials accused some journalists of abusing free speech by attacking the government without facts and for conducting a campaign against it.

Although I think he’s missing the meaning of the word “free” press, I’d like to make a starker point: Notice that we’re back to the pattern of “no facts,” reminiscent of what the Albanian side has been uniformly saying about the Council of Europe’s report on the Albanian murder-for-organs operation: “no evidence/facts.” This is meant to stop any potential investigation in its tracks. Never mind that you’ve got at least partial facts - they don’t want you to go anywhere with the facts you do have, because pursuing an investigation could lead to discovery and subpoenaing of the rest of the facts. So now we know what underlies the emphatic mantra — filled with certainty — “You have no facts!”: You can’t possibly have the evidence, because we’ve hidden most of it. (Serbian war crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic kind of made this point in March about the Albanians’ proxies, EULEX: “[EULEX] expects proof rather than having to look for it.”)

Deputy Prime Minister Hajredin Kuci told SETimes the government is not perfect, but it is a guarantor of press freedom and not its violator. [It just can’t be possible that the government of Kosovo is a ‘violator’ of anything, can it?]

He said his government has demonstrated the will to guarantee media freedom. [That means they’ve signed a piece of paper agreeing to it and nodded their heads at their Western masters/servants.]

But not everyone agrees. “The government, political parties, and business groups are politically and financially controlling most of the media,” Blerina Rogova, an analyst at the Kosovo daily Zeri, told SETimes.

“The government has put obedient people at the head of the public media, while blackmailing private media with the finances it spends on marketing,” she said.

There is no mechanism in Kosovo where journalists can ask for help when they are threatened. There are two journalist associations, but they only morally protect the journalists.

Four cases of threats against journalists and one case of physical mistreatment were recorded in April alone.

Now, get this. Not only is the media situation bad, but in this brand new not-yet-country, it’s already even “deteriorating”:

OSCE concerned over media situation in Kosovo (Tanjug, May 3)

Acting Head of OSCE Mission in Kosovo and Metohija Edward Joseph expressed concern Monday about various forms of pressure on journalists in Kosovo.

On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, May 3, Joseph said that the OSCE was concerned about the alleged attempts to unduly influence the editorial policy of media in general, especially that of the public television in Kosovo.

Unfortunately, international observers have noted that the state of press freedom in Kosovo is deteriorating, which emphasizes the need for speedy resolution of this situation, he said. […]

I guess the good thing about Albanians getting their Kosova is they get to find out what Albanians are all about.