International Journalists Associations Slam Possible Dismissal of HRT Journalist

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, September 22, 2018 – Three international journalists’ associations on Friday joined the Croatian Journalists’ Association (HND) in condemning Croatian Radio and Television’s (HRT) decision to terminate HND president Hrvoje Zovko, who has worked for HRT as a journalist and editor for 20 years.

In an explanation of its decision, HRT said its management received a report from HTV Croatian Television Information Media Service editor Katarina Periša Čakarun in which she claimed that Zovko had talked to her using extremely unprofessional terms, insults and threats, at one point getting in her face. Four HRT women employees confirmed this.

Zovko said he regretted the quarrel he was dragged into and that, based on his conduct and work so far, he did not deserve the harshest punishment.

The HRT management proposed to the Workers Council to terminate Zovko and the Council has until Monday to decide.

The HND said in a press release that on September 12 Zovko decided to resign as deputy editor on HTV’s Channel 4, citing pressure, censorship and unprofessional choice of topics. The next day, Periša Čakarun accepted his resignation and criticised his role as HND president, the HND said, adding that the HRT management decided on September 14 to terminate Zovko based on Periša Čakarun’s claims.

The International Federation of Journalists, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), of which the HND is a member, and the HND today called on the HRT to stop the dismissal procedure, which the HND sees as revenge against Zovko and intimidation of all journalists on the HRT with links to the HND.

“Together with HND Vice-Presidents Slavica Lukić and Denis Romac, I believe that the dismissal procedure would have never been launched by HRT if Zovko was not the HND president,” said EFJ president Mogens Blicher Bjerregard. “We are clearly facing a direct attack against HND.”

The HRT leadership’s decision was also condemned by the Regional Platform for Advocating Media Freedom and Journalists’ Safety in Western Balkans, which represents more than 8,000 members.

“The Platform strongly opposes the idea that a person could be under pressure and that his/her working position could be endangered or lost due to membership or engagement in the professional association. Actions of HRT represent a direct pressure on Zovko, as a professional journalist, and indirect pressure on the Croatian Journalists Association,” the Platform said in a press release.

The Platform is a network of journalist associations established in January 2016 with the financial assistance of the European Union. It comprises the Independent Association of Journalists of Serbia, the Association of BH Journalists, the Trade Union of Media of Montenegro, the Association of Journalists of Macedonia, the Association of Journalists of Kosovo, and HND.


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