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For Immediate Release
23 April 1996

Avner Gidron
Sarah Silver
(212) 465-1004

CPJ Chair Marton on Balkans Press Freedom Mission

Board Chair Kati Marton to Meet With Leaders of Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia

NEW YORK-- Kati Marton, chair of the Committee to Protect Journalists, today began a two-week fact- finding mission on the status of press freedom in the three nations in the former Yugoslavia, where at least 45 reporters have been killed in the past five years and local journalists face severe constraints on their independence.

Marton’s trip begins today in Zagreb and will continue on to Sarajevo and Belgrade. She is scheduled to meet with Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and acting Bosnian President Ejup Ganic. Marton will also hold fact-finding sessions with local and foreign journalists based in the three countries.

“CPJ has two goals for this mission,” said Ms. Marton. “First, we want to gather firsthand information about the problems faced by independent reporters and news outlets in the Balkans. Second, we want to convey our serious concerns about press freedom to the region’s leaders.”

Marton will be presenting her findings to leaders of international press freedom groups gathered at UNESCO headquarters in Paris for the May 3 commemoration of World Press Freedom Day. Upon her return to the United States, she will brief the U.S. media at a press conference in Washington, D.C.

Since 1991, CPJ has documented 25 deaths of working reporters in Croatia and 20 deaths in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Most appear to have been deliberate assassinations. The Balkans war has been the single most dangerous assignment for foreign correspondents since Vietnam. Most reporters killed, however, have been local journalists.

Independent news outlets in Zagreb, Sarajevo and Belgrade continue to face severe political pressures, legal obstacles and economic constraints. Political pressures are expected to intensify in the period leading up to the September parliamentary elections in Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro. Background information on press freedom violations in the Balkans may be found in CPJ’s annual report Attacks on the Press in 1995 (CPJ, March 1996).

Marton, a Hungarian-born author and journalist, has chaired CPJ’s board of directors since 1994. She is the host of “America and the World,” a weekly international affairs program on National Public Radio. From 1977 to 1979, Marton covered Central Europe as Bonn bureau chief for ABC News.

Marton has also reported for many other leading news organizations, including PBS, NPR, The Times of London, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek. She has published four books, including an award-winning account of the 1948 murder in Greece of CBS correspondent George Polk.

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