Conference Held on Restrictions to Media Freedom and Regulating Hate Speech

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, May 27, 2019 – Participants in a conference on relations in the media and judiciary and restrictions on freedom of speech and hate speech in Zagreb on Monday concluded that media freedom must not be jeopardised but that it has to have some restrictions and must not include hate speech.

Justice Minister Dražen Bošnjaković said that the judiciary and media have to work on future relations and that the judiciary has to become accustomed to the independence that does not necessarily mean that no one should be allowed to comment or write about the work of the judiciary, while the media, when covering court proceedings, have to do it in appropriate manner, particularly taking into account the constitutional presumption of innocence.

Media outlets are often full of current court proceedings and practice has shown that the media have often created an atmosphere of a public lynch of certain people, and then a conviction would not be handed down confirming that and when the case and evidence is examined it becomes obvious that there were no grounds for a conviction as had been suggested, Bošnjaković said.

Hate speech on social networks are full of excessively nasty posts while the legislation tackling the matter is just at its beginning.

He added that the European Union has a protocol that regulates procedures in removing content of that nature and filing charges while Croatia has a standard framework that needs to be upgraded. He announced that that will be done parallel with the EU which is preparing a directive in the regard in addition to the existing protocol.

The ministry has prepared a bill on hate speech on social networks which will be further fine-tuned this year, he added.

Supreme Court Vice President Marin Mrčela said that comments by readers on electronic media sometimes stir up amazement and more often regret.

Nevertheless, hundreds of good court decisions go under the radar and the question is why media most often report more about negative matters and why corrections are not published on cover pages, Mrčela remarked.

Culture Minister Mina Obuljen Koržinek said that media legislation exists on a fine line between freedom of expression and restrictions that are being introduced in order to protect those who could be jeopardised by those who inappropriately exploit that freedom. She said that the ministry is currently in the process of beginning to revise Croatia’s media legislation.

Preparations on a bill on electronic media are well underway with the intention of aligning it with the revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive so that the legislative framework can be adapted to fast technological changes in the media industry.

We are also considering amendments to the Media Law in cooperation with civil society organisations. However, there are different opinions on which direction those amendments should be heading in, she said.

More news about media freedom in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.


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