ZAGREB, February 27, 2019 – Croatian Journalists’ Association (HND) president Hrvoje Zovko said on Wednesday that an “unprecedented campaign of persecution against reporters and the media” was underway in Croatia, and that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković’s Croatian government was responsible for not responding to it, adding that reporters would try to hand in to government officials a list of eight demands against censorship at a protest rally set for March 2.
The situation in Croatian journalism and the media is disastrous and for years now, the HND has not been able to achieve a dialogue with the Plenković government, said Zovko. “Foreign institutions and individual embassies are more interested in the situation in the Croatian media than the government which during its term has not once expressed readiness to meet with an HND delegation, despite our many invitations,” Zovko told a press conference.
By holding a protest rally under the slogan “You captured the media, we won’t give up journalism”, the HND wants to warn of the fact that in the heart of Europe, in an EU member-state, the reporting profession is being destroyed and is on its last legs while the people currently in power are just watching in silence, Zovko added.
Zovko considers the “prime minister’s silence” as irrational, particularly in light of the fact that next week an international delegation will visit Croatia to inspect the situation in the media and freedom of the press. This will be the third inspection in a short period of time.
“This is a country in which the government that spreads fake news fights against that same news. For years now many political platforms have suppressed journalism, but in the past two years the situation has escalated,” he said, adding that those who started the war by suing reporters, trampling on the journalistic profession and attacking the HND did not count on that becoming a hot topic that would last for months.
He said that the struggle for journalists’ rights and media freedoms would continue even after the March 2 protest because reports about it would be sent to more than 500 addresses, the HND’s international partners.
Zovko, a reporter and editor on the Croatian Television (HTV), commented on a press release from the Croatian Radio and Television (HRT) public broadcaster in which it claims that the “public broadcaster is not suing its own reporters,” and showed four lawsuits by the HRT against the HND, him personally and Sanja Mikleušević Pavić, who heads the HND branch on the HRT.
“As far as the 36 lawsuits by the HRT against other media outlets, its own employees and the HND are concerned, all I can say is – withdraw them unconditionally, there can be no negotiation on that. We will never apologise for what we said because it is the truth,” Zovko said.
Sanja Despot of the HND read out eight demands against censorship to be presented to the government, including the demands to stop the current lawsuits, provide legal protection for reporters who warn of the pressure they are exposed to, depoliticise the Electronic Media Council, dismiss the HRT’s management and urgently amend the HRT Law.
Apart from that, the HND demands that the Law on the Media be implemented, local power-wielders who usurp the media be stopped, and that attackers on reporters be identified and brought to justice.
More news on the media freedoms in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.