Croatia ranks 56th out of 180 countries on the organisation’s annual Press Freedom Index, moving up three notches after ranking 59th in the previous report.
The organisation’s latest report, released on Tuesday, reads that “Croatian journalists who investigate corruption, organised crime or war crimes are often subjected to harassment campaigns.”
“Defamation is criminalised and insulting ‘the Republic, its emblem, its national hymn or flag’ is punishable by up to three years in prison. Worse still, ‘humiliating’ media content has been criminalised since 2013. Nonetheless, several courts ruled in favour of journalists during defamation trials in 2020. The government has not stopped meddling in the public TV broadcaster HRT, while HRT’s management continues to sue employees who have complained about this problem, and has gone so far as to bring a complaint against the Association of Croatian Journalists.”
COVID-19 pandemic deepens financial crisis in media
“Meanwhile physical attacks, along with threats and cyber-violence, continue to be a major problem for journalists without any reaction from the authorities. The Covid-19 pandemic deepened the financial crisis in the media, leading many outlets to cut pay and stop using freelancers. The journalists’ union asked the government to intervene to help freelancers and some economic measures were taken in the summer of 2020 but not all media benefitted,” reads the report’s section about Croatia.
The organisation warns that media freedoms have deteriorated considerably in Asia, in the Middle East and Europe, as shown by its index.
The index is based on a survey of Reporters Without Borders’ regional correspondents and takes into account issues such as the level of attacks on journalists, media independence, and transparency of government institutions.
The pandemic led to an increase in repression worldwide, according to RSF, which noted that media workers had been arrested for covering the outbreak in countries including China, Venezuela, Serbia and Kosovo.
Top 10 best countries for press freedom are as follows: Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Costa Rica, the Netherlands, Jamaica, New Zealand, Portugal and Switzerland.
On the other hand, the top worst countries are Eritrea, North Korea, Turkmenistan, China, Djibouti, Vietnam, Iran, Syria, Laos and Cuba.
For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.