The United States is deeply concerned over the violent attack on Stefica Galic, the editor-in-chief of web portal tacno.net, in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina on July 18th.
Mrs. Galic was attacked while returning home late at night in the town of Ljubuski. She suffered injuries requiring medical treatment. The attack took place only two days after a local screening of a documentary film relating to the activities of Mrs. Galic and her late husband, Nedjelko Galic, during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The couple helped Muslim families escape the town and avoid being sent to a concentration camp. Local groups opposed to the film, primarily war veterans, tried to prevent its screening and the film’s director also received threats.
Mrs. Galic and her children were the targets of threats and insults by nationalists before the screening and they continue to receive threats. Mrs. Galic’s late husband was awarded this year’s Dusko Kondor prize for civilian courage.
Dunja Mijatovic, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe representative on Freedom of the Media, strongly condemned the brutal beating of Galic, calling it “absolutely unacceptable.” She went on to say, “I am particularly worried about the reaction by the police, who consider this incident ‘a minor disturbance of public order’ rather than a severe attack on freedom of speech and the safety of a journalist. Given the recent violent history of Bosnia and Herzegovina, public officials should rather be alarmed by the display of such hatred and intolerance.”
The United States joins Ms. Mijatovic in condemning the assault against journalist and human rights activist Stefica Galic. The United States calls on authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to secure a safe environment, investigate the incident thoroughly, prosecute those responsible, and provide whatever protection may be necessary for those involved in the film.
The government of Bosnia and Herzegovina has a fundamental responsibility to protect freedom of speech for all its citizens.