Representatives of Serbian civil society and independent media in Kosovo call on the Crisis Headquarters in Gračanica and officials at the Clinical-Hospital Centre in Priština situated in Gračanica to inform the public of the epidemiological situation in Serb communities in central Kosovo, and for the Crisis Centre in the north of Kosovo to end their practice of selectivity when informing media outlets.
We demand that officials from the Clinical-Hospital Centre in Priština situated in Gračanica (KBC) inform the general public, thorough press conferences held on a regular basis, of the current situation regarding the number of COVID-19 infections, testing of those with symptoms of the virus, capacities for the provision of treatment and spaces for patients, and for them to inform media outlets without selectivity.
Taking into consideration the rise in the number of infections on the territory of the Gračanica municipality and the number of citizens with high temperatures who present themselves on a daily basis to doctors at the infectious diseases department at the Clinic in Laplje Selo, it is worrying that officials say nothing or are selective in their choice of media with whom they share information. The Administration of the KBC and its doctors are completely closed to speaking with certain media outlets. In a situation of great risk to public health, the obligation of the Crisis Centres is to inform the public on a daily basis on the current epidemiological situation, including proposed measures to protect the citizenry from the corona virus. Aside from providing healthcare services, officials at the KBC in Priština situated in Gračanica and their colleagues in Mitrovica, Štrpce, Kosovsko Pomoravlje and in the Peć/Peja region are obligated to inform citizens on the epidemiological situation and therefore unbiased cooperation with media outlets is of utmost importance. Likewise, the Crisis Centres in the north of Kosovo are highly selective in terms of the media that they chose to provide information to related to the pandemic. When they organise press conferences, they do not invite all media news teams and likewise to not send them information related to the pandemic.
Government officials who are members of these Crisis Centres do not respond to calls and questions from media outlets when journalists attempt to seek out answers. In regards to the above-mentioned issues, we demand from relevant institutions, particularly the Crisis Centre in the Gračanica Municipality, to begin without further delay the holding of daily press conferences or the issuing of press releases in order to inform the wider public on the course of the epidemiological situation as well as on measures undertaken in the goal of ending speculation as to the 2 number and status of those infected in Serb-majority areas. Furthermore, we demand that the Crisis Centre in the north of Kosovo adapt an unbiased approach towards all news teams. At time point in time, the top priority of institutions must be the health of all citizens as well as the stability of the healthcare system, which is a basic pre-condition for preventing the further spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The statement was signed by following:
Aktiv, Alternative Association, Advocacy Center for Democratic Culture (ACDC), Center for ther Rights of Minority Communities, Communication for Social Development (CSD), Centre for Communities Development, Center for Social Initiatives, Crno-beli svet, Forum for Development and Multiethnic Cooperation (FDMC), Gračanica Online, Humani centar Mitrovica, InTER, Kossev, New Press, New Social Initiative, Radio Goraždevac, Radio Kontakt Plus, RTV Kim