ZAGREB, May 2, 2020 – There are currently 905 active lawsuits against journalists and media outlets in Croatia, with plaintiffs seeking nearly HRK 68 million, the Croatian Journalists’ Association (HND) said on Friday, presenting the findings of a survey conducted among the media at the beginning of the year.
Ahead of World Press Freedom Day, observed on May 3, the HND again warned about the problem of legal actions, the aim of which, it says, was to censor, intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with legal proceedings, which the HND considers a serious and dangerous mechanism that is threatening the freedom of the media.
“Although 905 lawsuits against journalists and media outlets is fewer than last year, the number shows that the judicial prosecution of media outlets and journalists in Croatia is still present. It should be noted that the actual number is higher since we received data from only 18 media outlets,” HND president Hrvoje Zovko underscored.
The HND wants to warn the domestic and international public that lawsuits are most often a means of intimidating journalists and media outlets so that they would give up on serious investigative stories, Zovko said, adding that with high claims for damages plaintiffs seek to destroy journalists and media outlets financially.
The HND underscored that of the 23 media outlets who had been covered by the survey, there were 18 who had lawsuits against them for the violation of honour and reputation in their articles.
According to the HND’s survey, the HANZA media company, the publisher of Jutarnji List daily, Slobodna Dalmacija daily and Sportske Novosti sports daily, is faced with most lawsuits, 502, averaging HRK 100,000. It is followed by Styria, the publisher of Večernji List daily and 24 Sata daily, with 107 lawsuits averaging about HRK 156,000 in damages.
Of the total of 905 lawsuits, 861 defamation actions taken against media outlets, their editor and journalists for articles and features, and currently there are 44 criminal lawsuits.
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