Abu Dhabi, 18 December 2019 – Award-winning Serbian journalist Stevan Dojčinović, founder and editor-in-chief of the Crime and Corruption Reporting Network KRIK, was detained at Abu Dhabi International Airport early Wednesday morning. He was arriving in the United Arab Emirates to speak at a major UN anti-corruption event, the Conference of States Parties (CoSP) to the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). After several hours of detention, Dojčinović was put on a return flight to Serbia on Wednesday morning.
“Dojčinović being prevented from speaking at the CoSP undermines the credibility of the Conference, which is supposed to advance the global anti-corruption agenda and the implementation of the Convention,” said David Banisar, Chair of the UNCAC Coalition.
Dojčinović was scheduled to speak on the panel “New Approaches in Addressing Cross-Border Corruption, Money Laundering & Organised Crime”, hosted by Transparency International, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime. He had an official invitation letter from UONDC and was registered to attend the Conference as a member of the UNCAC Coalition’s delegation.
Stevan Dojčinović is a regional editor for the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP). His reporting has focused on money laundering by Serbian business elites and links between organised crime and government officials. Recognized as one of the world’s best investigative journalists, Dojčinović is a 2019 Knight International Journalism Award winner and received the 2019 EU Award for Investigative Journalism in Serbia.
Gillian Dell, Head of Conventions at Transparency International, said: “Journalists have demonstrated over and over that they have a crucial role to play in uncovering corruption issues, especially where state institutions fail. The exclusion of this journalist is a reminder of all the journalists and other civil society actors around the world who suffer repression and violence because of their efforts to curb corruption.”
Space for civil society to participate in the Conference has been limited in numerous ways. Five organizations were not allowed to attend due to objections from unknown states. Numerous civil society activists from Arab countries were not provided with visas in time to attend the Conference, and a statement from civil society organisations from Arab countries on the restricted civic space in the region was not accepted by the Conference, due to countries being referenced. The conference, including a dedicated space for NGOs, is also covered by extensive video surveillance.
Mathias Huter, UNCAC Coalition, Managing Director