Problems in the media sector and pressure on journalists have been increasing for years across the world and have been exacerbated by the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, the SNH said in a statement.
It noted that work from home was threatening to become a permanent informal and insecure form of work for journalists, restricting their working and professional rights.
The Croatian media sector is facing a series of problems – a media strategy that has been talked about for years has not been adopted yet and the existing legislation is full of shortcomings and needs to be made more specific to ensure the role of the media in a democratic society and prevent political control, the statement said, citing the Media Act and the Croatian Radio and Television Act.
Citing a report by media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, the SNH said that the Croatian public broadcasting service HRT was left over to the ruling majority to interfere in its personnel policy and decision making.
The SNH also stressed the need to change the Electronic Media Act to stop the rise in hate speech and attacks on journalists, as well as the Criminal Code, which public and political figures use to bring hundreds of defamation charges against journalists.
According to this year’s survey by the Croatian Journalists Association (HND), at least 924 lawsuits have been brought against Croatian media outlets and journalists seeking as much as HRK 78.5 million in damages, which is HRK 10 million more compared with a similar survey conducted in 2020. The actual number of lawsuits is believed to be higher.
“We can speak of more than 1,000 lawsuits and can say that in Croatia there is a shameful culture of taking journalists to court to exhaust them financially and discourage them professionally,” HND president Hrvoje Zovko said.
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