Citizen journalism can encourage people and, certainly, bring more democracy in the media sphere. It enables for more voices to be heard also in cases of unexpected accidents, and especially when social and political movements fill the streets because of abuse of power. Citizen journalists, armed with cameras or mobile phones, can convey to the global public what is happening without intermediaries, first-hand. It allows for the voice of the citizens to be heard, for abuses and violations of human rights and freedoms to be revealed and opens space for continuous monitoring of the institutions and the state.
In this context, citizen journalists are a very important factor also in the monitoring of the election processes, particularly when it comes to irregularities and violations of the right to vote, pressures by political party soldiers, vote-buying and many other unlawful and undemocratic procedures during the election cycles.
Communication technologies have increased citizens’ power, providing them with new tools and channels, to raise their voice and to share their findings. So far, in the past three years since the start of the implementation of the “Civic Lenses” project, almost 1000 participants have taken part in the seminars, 90 prizes have been awarded for best articles of citizen journalists, hundreds of stories and videos have been published that have made changes and have had an influence at the local and national level.
CIVIL has been dealing with monitoring of the situation of human rights and freedoms for a longer time. In this framework, the organization contributes to civic education on the voting right and takes care, through monitoring and media activities, to defend the right of citizens to vote freely and according to their beliefs at referendum.
The participation of citizen journalists in the monitoring of human rights and election processes, provides CIVIL with arguments in addressing the institutions and the structures of power to work according to the laws and democratic standards and to abandon the practices of abuse, hate speech and distribution of fake news, regardless of which side they are coming from.
Therefore, CIVIL is calling on all citizen journalists to increase their efforts and to help in the monitoring of the election process for president of the state, with which they will contribute towards the implementation of free, fair and democratic elections.