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International Information Centre for Balkan Studies



Media people:Changes in Serbia’s Law on Civil Procedure fatal for local outlets

June 7, 2021

The Local Press Association, 'Slavko Curuvija Foundation', Civic Initiatives, the Independent Association of Vojvodina Journalists (NDNV) and the Independent Association of Serbia's Journalists (NUNS) said on Monday they asked the Ministry of Justice to withdraw the Draft Law on Civil Procedure urgently.

According to the statement, „the planned changes are dangerous, especially for the local media,“ and „if the law is adopted in its current form, the consequences it could have for the local media could tantamount to the infamous 1998 Law on Information.“

Under that Law, some independent media had to close down during the late Slobodan Milosevic’s regime after paying enormous damages to the authorities.

The Law is attributed to the then Information Minister and current head of state Aleksandar Vucic.

„In an atmosphere in which the media have been continuously facing so-called SLAPP lawsuits in recent months, in which private companies close to the authorities are demanding multimillion sums from them for critical reporting, such a law could lead to the extinction of local media,“ the Monday’s statement said.

It added that „it is obvious that the creators of the law from 1998 learned how to effectively re-establish the mechanism for systemic suffocation of the media in a more perfidious and less direct way.“

„The proposed amendments to the law contain a decision according to which the parties in the procedure are denied access to the court if they do not pay the entire amount of the court fee within eight days, which according to the law can range up to 827 Euro (97,500 Dinars),“ the statement said.

Journalists’ associations added that „this leads to a situation in which the economically more powerful plaintiff can exhaust the defendant financially by submitting a lawsuit with a high claim, even if the claim has no legal and factual basis.“

They said the provision on retroactive use of the Law was also very problematic since the amended law would be applied to proceedings that had begun under the old Law but have not been completed.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/changes-in-law-on-civil-procedure-dangerous-for-local-media-in-serbia/

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