Credits: Majlinda Hoxha

Kosovo: Dangerous attack by MP Dimal Basha on ECPMF’S Senior legal advisor Flutura Kusari

The Media Freedom Rapid Response Partners (MFRR) strongly condemn Lëvizja Vetëvendosje  MP Dimal Basha’s abusive speech against ECPMF Senior legal advisor Flutura Kusari during a speech in the Kosovan parliament. Kusari, found herself singled out in a personal attack aimed at silencing the prominent activist, and resulting in a wave of online abuse and sex-based insults. 

 

On 27 June 2024, Kosovo’s Vetëvendosje MP Dimal Basha delivered a speech in  Parliament, during the second reading of Kosovo’s draft media law (IMC). This draft bill has been criticized for not taking into account recommendations from the Council of Europe, the European Commission and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. 

 

On 26 June, Flutura Kusari together with Xhemajl Rexha, Chair of the Association of Journalists of Kosovo (AJK), called on Lëvizja Vetëvendosje to improve the draft law: they emphasized the need for greater transparency and proposed establishing a broad working group, including local and international experts as well as civil society representatives. On 27 June, both of them reiterated their concerns in a press conference, before the Parliamentary session. In response, Dimal has misused the parliamentary plenary session to attack only Kusari, instead of using his speaking time to discuss the draft law on IMC.

 

Among his comments, Basha stated: “For example, we have Flutura Kusari who wants to dictate the entire Kosovo Parliament on how we should draft the law on IMC, whereas she is the same person who, in the name of freedom of expression, goes into the streets to protect Devolli (referring to her participation in the protest against shutting down of Klan Kosova (TV) owned by Devolli family). One cannot defend oligarchs in the name of media freedom, and nor can it extort this Republic.”

 

Xhemajl Rexha, Chair of the Board of the Kosovo Association of Journalists (AJK), condemned the politician’s verbal attack on Kusari: “We strongly denounce the vicious attack of MP Basha against our colleague and partner, Kusari. This is clearly done with the aim of silencing her, and is very troubling when it comes from those in high offices, responsible to ensure media freedoms and freedom of expression for all.”

 

“The accusations by MP Dimal Basha against Flutura Kusari – ECPMF’s Senior Legal Advisor – are not just an attack on her individually, but a dangerous affront to media freedom and civil society in Kosovo. This rhetoric seeks to silence critical voices and undermines the pluralistic media environment that is crucial for democracy,” said Andreas Lamm, Interim Managing Director of ECPMF.

 

Kosovo is currently experiencing a worrying decline in media freedom. It is increasingly common for government members to openly criticize journalists and their critics. When a leading politician attacks a woman journalist or activist it will be quickly followed by a surge of online slurs and sexist insults. Dimal Basha misused the parliamentary plenary to attack Flutura instead of responding to the criticisms about the law. 

 

MFRR members urge the authorities to refrain from such attacks, which can only exacerbate the sharp rise in online threats against women journalists and activists.

 

We stand firm in solidarity with our colleague, as well as all activists and journalists who strive to advocate for media freedom in Kosovo. The ongoing debate over the country’s draft media law underscores the critical need for transparent and inclusive legislative processes, to ensure democratic integrity. As Kosovo is actively working on implementing the European Reform Agenda, which includes reforms in the rule of law, our coalition stresses that upholding press freedom standards is essential for making progress towards EU integration.

 

Signed by

ARTICLE 19 Europe

The European Center for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)

International Press Institute (IPI)

OBC Transeuropa (OBCT)

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