Parliament Urges HRT and Journalists to Reach Settlement

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ZAGREB, January 24, 2019 – The parliamentary media committee on Wednesday unanimously adopted a conclusion urging both the public broadcasting service Croatian Radio and Television (HRT), which sued some of its journalists, and the Croatian Journalists’ Association (HND) to solve their dispute by agreement.

The committee’s conclusion reads that freedom of speech is a constitutional value and that a free press is a pillar of democracy and an important democratic safeguard.

The discussion on the HRT lawsuits was tabled by six opposition lawmakers after in late 2018 the HRT sued the HND and HRT journalists for 500,000 kuna in damages over their public statements. The public broadcaster claimed damages for “gross violations of reputation, honour and name.”

One of the suits was filed over a statement by the HND’s HRT branch of September 11 in which its journalists distanced themselves from scandals on the HRT at the time, including the sale of FIFA World Cup tickets. The HRT management demands 200,000 kuna in damages from the HND and 50,000 kuna from the president of the HND’s HRT branch, Sanja Mikleušević Pavić.

The opposition lawmakers consider the lawsuits as a form of pressure on reporters.

Furthermore, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have called on the HRT management to withdraw recent lawsuits against the HND, its president Hrvoje Zovko and the president of the HND branch at the HRT, Mikleušević Pavić, the HND said on Wednesday.

The HRT director-general Kazimir Bačić said today that the broadcaster was ready to drop the lawsuits if the defendants withdrew their claims about censorship in the national broadcasting company.

Bačić went on to say that censorship is a criminal offence and being the HRT director-general he was obliged to file a lawsuit to protect the HRT against false accusations.

The HRT has not lodged the lawsuits against reporters but against individuals, he insisted.

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


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