HND Calls for Punishing Attackers on Reporters

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, May 22, 2019 – Following increasingly frequent attacks on journalists and the latest death threats against reporters of the Rijeka-based Novi List daily, the Croatian Journalists Association (HND) on Wednesday sent an appeal to state institutions and the public, calling for putting an end to threats and for identifying and punishing the perpetrators.

Addressing a news conference in Zagreb, HND president Hrvoje Zovko most strongly condemned the latest threats against Novi List reporters, sent by e-mail, and written on the building housing the daily’s offices in Rijeka, where an unidentified perpetrator wrote “Killers at the typewriter” and “Poisoners of Croatian society”.

“The HND cannot accept state institutions’ keeping silent about the increase in hate speech and threats to reporters, which we have been warning about for months. We do not see any clear condemnation of threats and attacks. In this case, silence is not golden, it serves as fuel for people who hate everything reporters do and who see in them enemies and not people who work in public interest,” said Zovko.

Zovko said that it was unacceptable that the state and its institutions which, he said, “are disintegrating by the day”, kept silent and looked on as reporters were being threatened and attacked with impunity.

“We want a strong and adequate response from Croatian institutions. There can be no threats such as ‘You will end up like Charlie Hebdo’, which is what happened in Rijeka,” said Zovko.

The recently elected leader of the Croatian Journalists Union, Maja Sever, said that since 2014, 18 attacks and ten serious threats against journalists had been reported. “My question again is when will our laws incorporate recommendations by the Council of Europe and strengthen the protection and security of reporters and enable the prosecution and adequate punishment for the assailants,” Sever said.

Branko Mijić, an HND vice-president and editor at Novi List, said that the latest attack on the daily happened after reporter Bojana Guberac staged an exhibition featuring dozens of threats posted below Novi List reporters’ articles on the paper’s website.

“What is most worrying is that after editor-in-chief Slavica Bakić wrote an article on the daily’s website, one of the comments below her text read ‘You will end up like Charlie Hebdo’. When warned that such hate speech will be reported to the police, the author of the comment just replied ‘Go ahead’,” said Mijić.

“It is only a matter of time when violence against reporters will happen and it will be due to the authorities’ failure to react to warnings,” he said, adding that attacks on reporters and the state institutions’ inadequate response to it should be internationalised.

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


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