Croatian Journalists and Media Facing over 1,000 Lawsuits

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ZAGREB, February 6, 2019 – Croatian journalists and media outlets are currently facing over a thousand lawsuits, a round table was told in Zagreb on Wednesday. Panellists at the round table, entitled “Journalism in Court”, warned of frequent civil and criminal actions being brought against the media to intimidate critical journalism.

The Croatian Journalists’ Association (HND) circulated a questionnaire on lawsuits to 90 media outlets and received answers from 18 of them which are currently facing 1,163 lawsuits. Publications by the Hanza Media and Styria groups are most frequently the targets of claimants.

It was assessed as particularly worrying that the HRT public broadcasting service, which is financed with public money and is supposed to promote freedom of speech, had brought 33 lawsuits against their own and other journalists, media outlets and the HND over their critical reports on the HRT, demanding 2.17 million kuna (293,000 euro) in damages.

“A public media organisation which is supposed to protect media freedoms has become the main actor in silencing journalists,” HND vice-president Slavica Lukić said.

HND president Hrvoje Zovko warned of the problem of damages being sought from media outlets, a problem faced by the media since the 1990s. He said he held Prime Minister Andrej Plenković responsible for the situation at the HRT because he tolerated such behaviour, and called on the HRT to drop all charges against journalists and media organisations.

The secretary general of the European Federation of Journalists, Ricardo Gutierrez, said that the problem of the HRT had been acknowledged by European media experts as well.

More news on the journalism in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.


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