U.S. Embassy Statement on Role of the Media in a Democratic Society

The U.S. Embassy notes with concern the February 3 statement made by the Public Prosecutor’s Office that “publishing of materials that may become the subject of further criminal proceedings is forbidden and punishable by law.”

A free press is the cornerstone of a democratic society, and the media plays a critical role in presenting information that is in the public interest, including information that could indicate abuse of authority and result in criminal proceedings against public figures.  We are concerned that the media in Macedonia may interpret the statement of the Public Prosecutor’s Office to mean that it should not be playing this important role. We urge authorities to provide a clear legal justification for the February 3 statement, specifying the narrow circumstances where information must be treated as an official secret, and explaining how journalists will know when such narrow circumstances apply.