Special Police officers stand on a road they have sealed off with yellow tape in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on September 8, 2019.
Special police officers seal off a road in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on September 8, 2019. Journalist Mirza Dervišević has been given police protection after a masked man attacked him. (Reuters/Dado Ruvic)

Masked man beats journalist Mirza Dervišević in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Berlin, August 25, 2023—Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities must swiftly and thoroughly investigate the recent attack on journalist Mirza Dervišević, determine whether it was related to his work, and ensure that he is protected from further assaults, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Friday.

On Saturday, August 19, a masked man armed with brass knuckles hit Dervišević, the owner of the independent news website Times.ba, on the back of his head and on his face while he was outside his family’s home in the eastern city of Brčko, according to media reports and the journalist, who spoke to CPJ.

Dervišević told CPJ that he and several witnesses made statements to the police, and he filed a criminal complaint. The journalist said he also requested 24-hour police protection for himself and his family until the alleged assailant was found, which the police granted on Wednesday.

Dervišević told CPJ that he thought the attack was retaliation for his reporting on efforts to oust the local mayor and alleged links between local politicians and criminal gangs.

“Authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina must take the vicious assault of journalist Mirza Dervišević very seriously and conduct a swift and credible investigation to determine whether it was linked to his recent reporting,” said Attila Mong, CPJ’s Europe representative. “Local journalists who report on matters of public interest and expose alleged wrongdoing in their communities are often vulnerable to such attacks. Authorities must send a clear signal that violence against the media will not go unpunished and that they are committed to ensuring journalists’ safety.”

The journalist posted graphic photos on social media of the injuries he sustained, including a split eyebrow and cuts to his face, knees, and the back of his head. He said he received treatment in a local hospital. 

Headshot of Mirza Dervišević, owner of Times.ba, with blood on one side of his face, after he was attacked by a masked man with a brass knuckle in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Mirza Dervišević, owner of Times.ba, was attacked by a masked man with a brass knuckle in Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Photo courtesy of Mirza Dervišević)

Zekerija Mujkanović, chief prosecutor in Brčko, told CPJ via email that a criminal investigation was underway, and the police in Brčko had taken “concrete and effective measures to ensure the safety” of the journalist. 

CPJ emailed the police in Brčko for comment but did not receive any replies.