Press Freedom in Croatia Declines

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Worrying data on media freedom in Croatia.

With the attacks on the media, false information, pressures, and triumphs of politicians like US President Donald Trump and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, “media freedom has never been in such a danger,” warned the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in the 2017 report released on Wednesday. Compared to last year, Croatia fell 11 places in the rankings, and is currently at position number 74 in the world, reports Jutarnji List on April 26, 2017.

Press freedom is in a difficult or very serious situation in 72 countries (among 180 listed countries), including in China, Russia, India, almost all the Middle East, Central Asia and Central America, as well as in two thirds of African countries. The press is free only in some fifty countries – in North America, Europe, Australia, and South Africa, according to this report.

Croatia is in 74th place and, compared to the year before, it fell by 11 positions. Croatia has been falling in the rankings for several years. In 2014, it was at position number 58. Among the countries in the region, only Montenegro is worse (106). Better than Croatia are Hungary (71), Serbia (66), Bosnia and Herzegovina (65) and Slovenia (37).

According to the report, the Croatian authorities influenced the operation of public media. Journalists investigating corruption, organized crime, or war crimes were often exposed to harassment. The Reporters Without Borders state that the defamation is criminalized in Croatia, while the insult to the Republic, its symbols, anthem or flag, can be punished by imprisonment for up to three years. Even worse, media content that humiliates has been criminalized since 2013.

Involvement of authorities in the operations of the Croatian Radio Television (HRT) brings into question press freedom and media independence in the country. The Croatian Parliament dismissed HRT’s general manager in March 2016, RSF said, appointing a temporary managing director who “degraded or changed positions for about 70 journalists or editors within the framework of what critics have called ideologically motivated cleansing.”

The RSF is concerned about the “danger of a major deterioration” of press freedom, “particularly in important democratic countries.” “Obsession with surveillance and disregard for the secrecy of sources contribute to the decline in the ratings of many countries: United States, United Kingdom, Chile, New Zealand.”

“The election of Donald Trump in the United States and the Brexit campaign in Britain opened the way for pressure on the media and false information,” RSF complains. Worse rankings this year were also achieved by Poland (43), which “financially suffocates” independent opposition press, Hungary (71) and Tanzania.

In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “has resolutely put himself on the side of authoritarian regimes and the country has become the world’s largest prison for media professionals,” accused RSF. Russia also remains at the bottom of the rankings.


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