Twenty years ago, in the early morning of April 23, 1999, during the Kosovo war, NATO bombed the headquarters of the Serbian public broadcaster – Radio Television of Serbia (RTS) – in downtown Belgrade, killing 16 of its employees.
To commemorate the bombing, declared a war crime by Amnesty International, Radio Television Serbia (RTS) and the Journalists’ Association of Serbia (UNS) are organizing an international conference in Belgrade on April 22-23.
The conference will be an opportunity for journalists, media professionals and human rights activists to discuss growing threats against the media over the past two decades, as well as attacks on the free flow of information coming from state and non-state actors.
RTS employees were not the only media casualties of the Kosovo war. In May 1999, three Chinese journalists were killed in the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, Serbia, and at least 14 Serb and Albanian journalists were abducted and killed from 1998 to 2005 in Kosovo. No one has been held to account for these murders.
Prominent Belgrade journalist Slavko Ćuruvija, owner and publisher of influential anti-Milosevic outlets Evropljanin and Dnevni telegraf, was assassinated on Easter Sunday, April 11, 1999, in front of his home. Serbian state security personnel accused of murdering him were put on trial 15 years after his death. The imminent verdict of the trial chamber is expected to end the long era of impunity for murders of journalists in Serbia.
The conference will offer a platform to discuss other violent crimes against journalists in Syria and elsewhere, but also in the European Union, to push for justice and and an end to impunity for such crimes.
The conference will open in the evening of April 22, to be continued a day later with three panels discussing war reporting, attacks against the press and the role propaganda plays in times of war and peace.
Working languages will be Serbian, English, Russian and French.
SESSION 1: “WAR LIVE: REPORTING DURING THE NATO BOMBING”
SESSION 2: “PROPAGANDA 1999-2019: WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?”
SESSION 3: “STILL TARGETS: THREATS AND CHALLENGES FOR JOURNALISTS TODAY”