ZAGREB, February 18, 2019 – The Croatian PEN Centre on Monday objected in the strongest terms the introduction of criminalisation of speech and a prison sentence handed down against Zoran Erceg for something he said.
The Croatian P.E.N. Centre is a nongovernmental organization founded in 1927 as one of the first member-centres of the International PEN, the world association of poets, novelists, essayists, playwrights, screenwriters, historians, critics, translators, editors and journalists sharing the same belief that writers can play a crucial role both in changing and developing civil society.
Denying someone their right to a political opinion encroaches upon a fundamental democratic right, P.E.N. said in a press release.
The Zagreb Misdemeanour Court on Wednesday handed down a conditional prison sentence of 15 days against activist Zoran Erceg for disturbing the public order at a ceremony on December 10 at which a monument to Croatia’s first president Franjo Tuđman was unveiled. At the ceremony, which was attended by the entire state leadership, Erceg shouted, among other things, that Tudjman had destroyed Croatia and was a war criminal.
The Croatian PEN. Centre is worried about a growing number of court rulings against journalists who have been sued for damages, citing the recent case of author and journalist Jurica Pavičić, as well as lawsuits filed by Croatian Radio Television against its own journalists and the Croatian Journalists’ Association.
A court in Split last week ruled that Jutarnji List journalist Jurica Pavičić must pay 50,000 kuna in damages to a former director of the Split-based Croatian National Theatre, Duško Mucalo, for infringement of personality rights with a series of his articles about his term at the helm of the said theatre.
The PEN Centre said that pressure exerted by politicians and political parties on freedom of expression, such as the persecution of and calling for violence against Jutarnji List reporter Željka Godec, who in her article cited facts from the State Audit Office’s findings, was unacceptable.
More news about media freedom in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.