Time to end online censorship in Serbia

"Following recent events in Serbian media, I would like to express my strongest concerns over online censorship and endangered freedom of speech in Serbia.

In the 21st century online media is one of the most important channels for accessing information. Moreover, new online technologies and social media have proven to be an integral part of societal changes. In the past weeks, marked by dreadful floods in the Balkans, we have witnessed great solidarity in Serbia, in neighbouring countries and elsewhere, partly evoked by citizens' online participation.

It is thus unacceptable to use any form of blocking online content or punishing individuals because they simply exercised their right to free expression.

As an ex-journalist and Vice-Chair of Media Intergroup in the European Parliament, I strongly believe that media is not only a mirror of society, but also an instrument of change. Freedom of speech and media pluralism are preconditions, and at the same time consequences of a democratic society.

In the times when Serbia is making effort to conduct necessary reforms on its road to the European Union, including those that will provide stable institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities, it is absolutely inadmissible to tolerate online censorship. Therefore I call upon Serbian authorities to take all measures in order to end online censorship and provide conditions for transparent and credible functioning of Serbian media."