Croatia Makes "Modest" Progress in Media Freedom

By 25 April 2018

ZAGREB, April 25, 2018 - The newest Reporters Without Borders (RSF) report on the freedom of the media shows that Croatia has moved up five places from 2017 to 69th in the latest rankings including 180 countries and Croatia's progress is assessed as "modest".

When it comes to countries in the neighbourhood, Slovenia ranks 32nd, Bosnia and Herzegovina (62nd), Hungary (73rd) and Montenegro (103rd), notes the RSF Index 2018 released on Wednesday.

According to RSF's report, journalists investigating corruption, organised crime, or war crimes are often subjected to harassment campaigns. Defamation is criminalized and insulting "the Republic, its emblem, its national hymn or flag" is punishable by up to three years in prison, RSF recalls in its report.

Worse still, "humiliating" media content has been criminalized since 2013, RTS underscored. This means that reporters can be found guilty even though they reported the truth, however a judge can determine whether that truth is in the public interest. This article was added to the law on 1 January 2013.

"Government meddling in the public TV broadcaster HRT continues to be a real problem and limits media independence. HRT is clearly under political pressure. Interest groups try to influence its editorial policies and interfere in its internal management," RSF's report notes.

In a joint visit in January 2018, RSF and other international press freedom NGOs found that there has been a slight improvement in the situation. They also paid tribute to the police, who have of late increased the number of arrests in cases of physical violence against journalists. "Physical attacks, along with threats and cyber-violence, continue to be a major problem for journalists in Croatia," the report concluded.