HRT Starts Procedure to Dismiss President of Main Journalists Association

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, September 20, 2018 – The Croatian Journalists Association (HND) condemned on Thursday in the strongest terms the launching of a procedure to fire reporter, Croatian Radio and Television (HRT) editor and HND president Hrvoje Zovko.

“The procedure to fire Zovko from his post as editor-coordinator, launched on the basis of a report by the editor of the Croatian Television (HTV) Information and Media Service, Katarina Periša Čakarun, is in its final stage. The HRT management has promptly proposed that the Workers Council impose the most severe penalty on Zovko, and the Council must state its position by Monday even though its final position is not binding on the HRT management,” the HND said in a statement.

The HND explains that a few days ago Zovko asked to be relieved of his duties as the executive editor of the HTV’s Channel 4, and the following day explained in a statement the reasons for his move, citing pressure, censorship, unprofessional choice of topics, lack of organisation and serious technical problems in the realisation of HTV 4 programmes. “He was then invited to a meeting with his editor-in-chief Periša Čakarun, at which she accepted his resignation. However, only two hours later Zovko was invited to a second meeting with Periša Čakarun at which she presented what he describes as a number of unfounded accusations against him, including an objection about his work in the HND.

“The meeting, which turned into a quarrel as seen among editorial staff, was used by the public broadcaster’s management to use the drastic measure of launching the procedure to fire the reporter, while recently it failed to launch even the most lenient disciplinary procedure against those responsible for the HRT teletext page calling a World War II Ustasha-run children’s camp a home for orphans that was attacked by the Partisans,” says Croatia’s umbrella journalists’ association.

The HND said it was confident that the procedure against Zovko would not have been launched if he was not HND president, which was why it constituted a direct attack on the HND. “We would like to point to the fact that the HRT, an institution that is supposed to promote freedom of speech, is treating membership in the professional association of Croatian journalists as a disadvantage due to which numerous colleagues, active HND members, were previously fired, received warnings or were professionally marginalised. Zovko has been a member of the HND since 1997 and has worked at the HRT since 1998. He has received numerous awards and has never received a single warning nor has a report ever been filed against him. The HND believes that in a democratic society his work in the HND must not be the reason for any persecution, pressure or other actions against him at his place of work, and particularly not his firing,” the HND said.

It added that it had brought the case to the attention of the European and international federations of journalists, the OSCE, the European Broadcasting Union, Reporters Without Borders and other international organisations.


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