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Government critics in Macedonia losing voice

A journalist in Macedonia has recently been arrested as those who are critical of the government continue to be censored.

Many writers who are displeased with the government in the southeastern European country are finding it increasingly difficult to voice their opinion. The most recent example can be seen in the arrest of Zoran Bozinowski who owned a website that that was critical of the government, according to the Index on Censorship.

Having an open dialogue regarding government action is essential to maintaining  a strong and free democracy. Without being able to voice one's opinion, how are the voices of individual citizens supposed to be heard?

Government shows discrimination
Bozinowski's arrest is only the most recent example of government censorship within the country. According to Freedom House, the constitutional protections of freedom of the press are not maintained in an unbiased manner.

A recent law in the country allows the investigations of journalists and other individuals by request of the government. Also, the organization open access to information is selectively enforced. Further, laws prohibiting public officials from media outlets have been implemented, but these individuals have remained in control via proxy.

Limiting independent media support
The Index on Censorship reported that despite the nearly 200 media outlets operating within Macedonia, it can be difficult for them to find a market because of the size of the country. As a result, financial backing can be difficult to attain.

Further, the government is among the country's largest advertisers, meaning that if these outlets wish to find fiscal support, they are ruling out a huge part of their business by not seeking funding from the government. However, this limits the ways in which writers can discuss their financial backer's affairs in their content.

The source cites an incident from last year when reporters were forced out of a parliamentary session by security forces. Despite using legal measures to bring this incident to justice, none has been found. Also, one of the country's biggest press freedom activists, Nikola Mladenov, mysteriously died in March from a car accident.

The Index on Censorship piece was written by Tamara Causidis and Dragan Sekulovski who are heads of the Trade Union of Macedonian Journalists and Association of Journalists of Macedonia, respectively, stressed that despite laws that may seem like media is free and open in the country, topics that turn critical of the government are not. This makes for a worrisome democratic climate for those living and reporting in the country.

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