Brutal attack on Valon Syla: Kosovo must take action to protect journalists

Credits: Gazeta Metro.

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and its affiliate in Kosovo, AGK, strongly condemn the violent attack on journalist Valon Syla in Pristina on Tuesday evening. The EFJ calls on the Kosovo authorities to condemn publicly this act of violence and to do their utmost to identify the perpetrators and their sponsors and to prosecute them.

Kosovar journalist Valon Syla was attacked last night by three unknown men in the Bregu i Diellit area of Pristina. Syla was attacked a few minutes after leaving the studio of a broadcast, where he was invited to discuss the trial of former UÇK leaders in The Hague.

Syla was taken to the University Clinical Centre of Kosovo (QKUK), where his head injuries were treated. Syla said that the three people who attacked him ran away after hitting him on the head.

“I call on Prime Minister Albin Kurti, Interior Minister Xhelal Svecla and Justice Minister Albulena Haxhiu to publicly condemn the attack and make it clear that such attacks on a journalist are unacceptable,” reacted EFJ General Secretary Ricardo Gutiérrez. “I find their silence particularly disturbing. Political leaders have a duty to publicly condemn such attacks.”

Together with AGK, the EFJ calls on the police to carry out a serious investigation, and on the judicial authorities to identify the criminals and their mastermind, bring them to justice and impose the maximum penalties.

“Attacks on journalists are not attacks on an individual, but are attacks on freedom of expression, freedom of opinion and democracy,” said Getoarbe Mulliqi, AGK Executive Director. “It is extremely disturbing the fact that those who should protect the rights of journalists, are not even classifying this brutal attack toward Valon Syla as a serious crime. Due to such penalties and ridiculous sentences, journalists are the easiest targets for attackers. We appeal to the relevant institutions to shed light on this urgently and, through it, set a standard in sentencing and punishing for violators of free speech.”

“Kosovo has yet to implement the Council of Europe and European Union recommendations on the safety of journalists,” added Gutiérrez. “This tragedy is a good opportunity to launch a national plan to implement European standards on the safety of journalists. Policy makers must have the courage to act. To remain passive is to be an accomplice of the attackers.”

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