The real number of lawsuits may be even greater because the data collected refers to only 23 media outlets, HND president Hrvoje Zovko said at a news conference in Zagreb.
The HND says on its website that “same as last year, Hanza Media has the highest number of lawsuits, 479 of them, with the average indemnity demands of 13,333 euro per lawsuit. Styria follows them with 203 lawsuits – the amounts of indemnity requests made to them result to almost € 2.7 million. In active litigation, the amount of claims ranges from several thousand kunas to even more than one million kunas, while the longest active litigation is currently in its 12th year.”
The HND will continue to warn the local and international public about that problem, said Zovko and called on all reporters for solidarity in the fight against that kind of intimidation.
HND secretary-general Ema Tarabochia reported that in February last year there were 905 law actions against media outlets and journalists . Even though this year’s number is insignificantly higher, it is particularly concerning that such a number of active cases exists in any case, she said.
“Out of the total number of 924 lawsuits, 892 refer to civil actions against publishers, their editors and journalists, for compensation of damages due to violations of honor and reputation based on published texts and articles, while the remaining number of 32 lawsuits refers to currently active criminal proceedings. Among prosecutors, apart from natural persons unknown to the general public, the most prominent are persons from public and political life, followed by legal entities, politicians in power, even judges themselves,” says the HND on its website.
Three active disputes against HND
The HRT national broadcaster has a lawsuit against Zovko seeking compensation of HRK 250,000 and HRK 200,000 from HND. In that same legal action HRT is seeking HRK 50,000 in damages from HTV reporters Sanja Mikleušević Pavić.
As HND said, this is a unique case where a public media service is suing one of its own employees but also a reporters’ professional association.
Government should conduct education to prevent lawsuits occurring
Laywer and member of the European Commission expert group for SLAPP suits, Vanja Jurić said today that the government should conduct education for politicians, lawyers and judges in preventing lawsuits against reporters and the media and to have them realise that they need to be prepared to accept criticism.
She in particular warned of the danger of the Strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP).
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