Monday, 13 April 2020

HND Asks State Leaders to Condemn Attacks on Journalists in Split

ZAGREB, April 13, 2020 - The Croatian Journalists Association (HND) said on Sunday it was shocked by this morning's attacks outside a church on Dalmatinski Portal journalist Živana Šušak Živković and N1 camerawoman Ivana Sivro, asking that the state leadership clearly condemn them.

The attacks occurred at about the same time, first on Šušak Živković, who was recording a gathering of believers at a church in a Split suburb, the HND said in a press release.

After she was roughly pushed away, which is clearly visible in a video, the mobile phone on which she was live streaming the gathering was destroyed, then her arm was pinned with the church door, for which she had to seek medical assistance and report the case to the police, the HND said.

Shortly thereafter, Sivro was attacked outside the same church and this too was recorded, the HND said, adding that a video shows a man in a car rushing towards the woman, slowing down and hitting her camera with his hand.

The HND noted that prior to the incidents the church priest, Josip Delaš, insulted the journalists and that according to witnesses, the crowd hurled insults at the two women as well.

The HND asked why the police were not there and why the law did not apply to all, saying it was difficult to believe that the police did not know that Easter Mass would be held in that church despite a ban because of COVID-19.

The HND said that although the attackers were arrested, Interior Minister Davor Božinović condemned the attack and the Split-Dalmatia Archdiocese distanced itself from Delaš, that was not enough.

The conduct of the Church in recent days was irresponsible and top state officials are keeping silent about attacks on journalists, the HND said, adding that this was the third attack on women journalists in Split recently.

In Croatia, which is chairing the EU, there is evidently a hunt on journalists and a lynching atmosphere in which journalists are to blame for everything, the press release said.

In recent years such messages have come also from the highest Church dignitaries and state officials, which is unacceptable, so the HND demands that the state leadership clearly condemn the latest attacks, the press release said, adding that the HND would notify its foreign partners.

More news about journalism in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

HND Leave Task Force for Electronic Media Act

ZAGREB, January 21, 2020 - The Croatian Journalists Association (HND) said on Monday that it had walked out of a Culture Ministry task force in charge of drawing up a new law on electronic media because the ministry did not include any of the HND's proposals in the document.

The HND says that it had submitted a document with its proposals to the ministry on August 26, 2019 after on July 26 working material for the future law was made available to it.

The association says that it wants to remind the public of this fact in light of Culture Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek's repeated statements about the HND "stating falsely that its proposals were not accepted. Those that could be accepted were accepted."

"Statements like this one are designed to create the impression that the HND left the ministry's task force without a real reason. That is why we are repeating: The Culture Ministry did not accept any of the HND's proposals to the working text of the Electronic Media Act, including one on the need to depoliticise the Electronic Media Council. The HND joined the task force responsibly, in good faith and with the best of intentions, expecting that we share the same goal of upgrading the media in Croatia and their democratic function," HND president Hrvoje Zovko said on behalf of the HND Executive Board.

HND representatives said that they had joined the task force bearing in mind the HND's mission to protect journalism as a public good, protect the public interest and promote the public's right to fair, correct and complete information.

"Aware of this role of ours in society, we will join in public consultation on the electronic media bill, the minister doesn't need to remind us of that," Zovko said.

More news about the status of journalists in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Court Rules HND President Fired Unlawfully by HRT

ZAGREB, October 29, 2019 - The Zagreb Municipal Labour Court ruled on Tuesday that the president of the Croatian Journalists Association (HND), Hrvoje Zovko, had been fired unlawfully by the Croatian Radio and Television (HRT) public broadcaster last year.

Under the ruling, which may be appealed, Zovko is to be reinstated as an editor at HRT.

In a statement to Hina, Zovko said that he had expected such a verdict and was satisfied with it. "The verdict confirms what I have been saying from day one," he said.

The dispute between Zovko and HRT ensued after the HRT management last September made a decision on an instant dismissal of its reporter and HND president. The dismissal was initiated based on a complaint by the editor-in-chief of Croatian Television's (HTV) news service, Katarina Periša Čakarun.

Some ten days before that, Zovko tendered his resignation as the editor-in-chief of the HTV Channel 4, saying in a letter that his decision was due to pressure, censorship, an unprofessional choice of topics, lack of organisation and serious technical problems on Channel 4.

This was followed by a meeting with Periša Čakarun, at which she accepted his resignation. However, only two hours later, Zovko was invited to a second meeting at which an argument erupted between him and Periša Čakarun.

HRT said Zovko had been dismissed due to a grave breach of rules of office and conduct, a number of insults he said, inappropriate conduct and inappropriate and unprofessional statements, adding that the incident happened during working hours in HRT offices.

The HRT Staff Council voted against Zovko's dismissal but its opinion was not binding on the HRT management.

Zovko has dismissed accusations from his notice of dismissal on several occasions.

Last November HRT decided to reinstate him but he was suspended on the same day pending the completion of the court proceedings.

Apart from the HND's branch at HRT, Zovko was also supported by international journalists' associations.

More news about pressure on journalists in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

HND Condemns Complaints against Rape Victim and Journalists

ZAGREB, October 3, 2019 - The Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) on Thursday sharply condemned the criminal complaints filed by Krešimir Krsnik, the lawyer for rape suspect Damir Škaro, against a rape victim and a journalist and editor of the Nova TV commercial television channel for divulging a secret.

The HND denounced the move by Krsnik as an act of intimidation and harassment and an attempt at discouraging journalists from covering such topics.

This move "is also a message to victims not to share their traumas with the public and not to point their fingers at the perpetrators, as well as to journalists not to deal with such topics. We hope and believe that Nova TV, the Provjereno programme and its entire team will not give up, will not be intimidated and will continue doing their job professionally as they have so far," the Association's president Hrvoje Zovko said.

He added that this case was confirmation of repeated warnings by the HND about journalists, editors and entire media organisations being harassed by lawsuits and that in the coming days the HND would inform the public about other cases as well. He said that the HND fully supported their colleagues at Nova TV.

The HND's reaction came after Krsnik filed a complaint against the rape victim for divulging a secret and against a journalist and editor of the Provjereno programme for incitement to divulging a secret. The lawyer tried to prevent the programme from being aired in early September and showing the testimony of the woman who accused Škaro of raping her.

More news about journalism in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

EFJ Head Calls for Better Working Conditions, Rights for Croatian Journalists

ZAGREB, October 1, 2019 - The president of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Mogens Bisher Bjerregaard, said in Zagreb on Monday that the EFJ expected countries to fully support the promotion of the freedom of speech, media, journalism and journalists' professional status as well as their working rights and copyright.

If there are no good working conditions and if journalists cannot live off their work, it is difficult to speak of good journalism. It is very important for the entire society to promote reporters' rights and a joint approach is needed to collective bargaining and conclusion of collective agreements in journalism, the EFJ president said.

It is also important to convince publishers and media owners that it is in their interest to have reports who can do their job professionally, Bjerregard said at a panel discussion organised by the Croatian Journalists Association (HND), the Croatian Journalists Union (SNH), and the Association for Journalist Copyright Protection (DZNAP).

SNH leader Maja Sever said that Bjerregard was visiting Zagreb as part of a project on the management of changes in the media and that as a long-standing Danish unionist, he would organise a workshop on collective bargaining for Croatian reporters.

She stressed that Croatian journalists worked in precarious conditions and that insecurity in terms of labour legislation and undermined professional standards jeopardised the dignity of the profession and journalists themselves.

HND president Hrvoje Zovko said that the current media scene was marked by unprecedented and growing pressure against journalists and the media, notably those involved in investigative journalism, as well as by disregard for the Media Act and violation of in-house statutes in print media.

"There is a terrifying silence about this on the part of people who represent the state, which very soon will take over presidency of the European Union," Zovko said.

More news about journalism in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

HND Calls for Punishing Attackers on Reporters

ZAGREB, May 22, 2019 - Following increasingly frequent attacks on journalists and the latest death threats against reporters of the Rijeka-based Novi List daily, the Croatian Journalists Association (HND) on Wednesday sent an appeal to state institutions and the public, calling for putting an end to threats and for identifying and punishing the perpetrators.

Addressing a news conference in Zagreb, HND president Hrvoje Zovko most strongly condemned the latest threats against Novi List reporters, sent by e-mail, and written on the building housing the daily's offices in Rijeka, where an unidentified perpetrator wrote "Killers at the typewriter" and "Poisoners of Croatian society".

"The HND cannot accept state institutions' keeping silent about the increase in hate speech and threats to reporters, which we have been warning about for months. We do not see any clear condemnation of threats and attacks. In this case, silence is not golden, it serves as fuel for people who hate everything reporters do and who see in them enemies and not people who work in public interest," said Zovko.

Zovko said that it was unacceptable that the state and its institutions which, he said, "are disintegrating by the day", kept silent and looked on as reporters were being threatened and attacked with impunity.

"We want a strong and adequate response from Croatian institutions. There can be no threats such as 'You will end up like Charlie Hebdo', which is what happened in Rijeka," said Zovko.

The recently elected leader of the Croatian Journalists Union, Maja Sever, said that since 2014, 18 attacks and ten serious threats against journalists had been reported. "My question again is when will our laws incorporate recommendations by the Council of Europe and strengthen the protection and security of reporters and enable the prosecution and adequate punishment for the assailants," Sever said.

Branko Mijić, an HND vice-president and editor at Novi List, said that the latest attack on the daily happened after reporter Bojana Guberac staged an exhibition featuring dozens of threats posted below Novi List reporters' articles on the paper's website.

"What is most worrying is that after editor-in-chief Slavica Bakić wrote an article on the daily's website, one of the comments below her text read 'You will end up like Charlie Hebdo'. When warned that such hate speech will be reported to the police, the author of the comment just replied 'Go ahead'," said Mijić.

"It is only a matter of time when violence against reporters will happen and it will be due to the authorities' failure to react to warnings," he said, adding that attacks on reporters and the state institutions' inadequate response to it should be internationalised.

More news about media freedom in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

HND Slams "Political and Police Pressure" on Reporter

ZAGREB, March 6, 2019 - The Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) on Wednesday condemned in the strongest terms "the political and police pressure" on reporter Đurđica Klancir who has wrote on her Facebook wall that two police officers had arrived in her editorial room to establish her identity necessary for the procedure of a private lawsuit filed against her.

Klancir, a reporter for the portal, said that the two uniformed police officers had arrived at her workplace following a request of the lawyer in Sisak-Moslavina County who is preparing a lawsuit on behalf of his client, and according to the reporter's statement, the client is Sisak-Moslavina County Prefect Ivo Žinić who is privately suing her.

The HND finds that this is an unprecedented case in which a powerful politician is using the police as his own private service to intimidate journalists which the HND described as deeply disturbing and shocking.

The HND refers to the whole case as an act of "political and police pressure" on a reporter.

The association insists that in this way, the County Prefect Žinić, whose work Klancir has been criticising in her articles, is trying to intimidate the reporter.

The Ministry of the Interior said on Tuesday said that the police conduct was in compliance with the law and in that specific case, the lawyer of the concerned injured party requested to be provided with identification data for the purpose of launching a civil action.

The ministry underscores that in this case the injured private party was entitled to get information to lodge a lawsuit, and the police are supposed to establish beyond any doubt the identity of the sued party given that there are several persons in Croatia with the same name as the said reporter.

The only reliable data has been that the reporter works for the portal and therefore the police officers went to the media outlet's premises to establish the accurate identity of the sued party.

More news on the pressure on independent media in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Croatian Journalists and PM Continue Argument about Media Freedom

ZAGREB, March 5, 2019 - The Croatian Journalists Association (HND) Executive Board on Monday dismissed in the strongest terms Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's statement about HND president Hrvoje Zovko, noting that Plenković was denying that critical journalism in Croatia was exposed to pressure and was trying to discredit Zovko.

Commenting on a reporters' protest against censorship held this past Saturday, PM Plenković said on Monday that the problem started when HND leader Zovko almost physically attacked the editor of the Croatian Television (HTV) news department, Katarina Periša Čakarun, but that he did not hear any of the protesters mention that or show any solidarity with the editor in question. Plenković also said that Zovko himself had sued other reporters.

"Reducing the many problems that concern the erosion and destruction of journalism - of which the HND-led protest of last Saturday warned - to the case of Hrvoje Zovko, and doing it in such a way to distort facts concerning the circumstances of Zovko's resignation as an HRT editor, is unworthy of a prime minister," the HND Executive Board said in a statement.

The prime minister is forgetting that an attempt by Zovko to attack his editor was never established, and it is not true, as Plenković claims, that "the problem started" with that case, the HND said.

"We would like to remind the Prime Minister that Hrvoje Zovko is only one of the 36 reporters and media outlets the HRT is currently suing because they spoke about the situation at the public broadcaster and whose written explanation of the reasons for his resignation as editor, in which he warned of censorship and the technical and personnel erosion of the HRT's news department, the HRT management is persistently trying to reduce to a personal dispute. The Prime Minister's claims, which go in the same direction and are based on one-sided and incorrect information and have been made before the court has ruled on the matter, are not only irresponsible, they are also ill-intentioned," the HND said.

It notes that the prime minister's equating lawsuits which Zovko filed against hate-mongering to which he was exposed in obscure right-wing media and the HND's well-founded warnings about hundreds of lawsuits that have been filed to prevent critical journalism, bears witness to his capacity to understand the role of journalism as a guardian of social freedoms and democracy.

"It is extremely worrying when the prime minister of an EU member-country belittles a justified reporters' protest and its reasons, the more so as he does it using the arguments of the HRT management, which is suing reporters and the journalists' association, and using the language of commentators on obscure right-wing web portals," reads the HND Executive Board's statement, signed by vice-presidents Slavica Lukić and Denis Romac.

More news on the media freedom in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Croatian Government Responsible for Unprecedented Attacks on Media

ZAGREB, February 27, 2019 - Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) president Hrvoje Zovko said on Wednesday that an "unprecedented campaign of persecution against reporters and the media" was underway in Croatia, and that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's Croatian government was responsible for not responding to it, adding that reporters would try to hand in to government officials a list of eight demands against censorship at a protest rally set for March 2.

The situation in Croatian journalism and the media is disastrous and for years now, the HND has not been able to achieve a dialogue with the Plenković government, said Zovko. "Foreign institutions and individual embassies are more interested in the situation in the Croatian media than the government which during its term has not once expressed readiness to meet with an HND delegation, despite our many invitations," Zovko told a press conference.

By holding a protest rally under the slogan "You captured the media, we won't give up journalism", the HND wants to warn of the fact that in the heart of Europe, in an EU member-state, the reporting profession is being destroyed and is on its last legs while the people currently in power are just watching in silence, Zovko added.

Zovko considers the "prime minister's silence" as irrational, particularly in light of the fact that next week an international delegation will visit Croatia to inspect the situation in the media and freedom of the press. This will be the third inspection in a short period of time.

"This is a country in which the government that spreads fake news fights against that same news. For years now many political platforms have suppressed journalism, but in the past two years the situation has escalated," he said, adding that those who started the war by suing reporters, trampling on the journalistic profession and attacking the HND did not count on that becoming a hot topic that would last for months.

He said that the struggle for journalists' rights and media freedoms would continue even after the March 2 protest because reports about it would be sent to more than 500 addresses, the HND's international partners.

Zovko, a reporter and editor on the Croatian Television (HTV), commented on a press release from the Croatian Radio and Television (HRT) public broadcaster in which it claims that the "public broadcaster is not suing its own reporters," and showed four lawsuits by the HRT against the HND, him personally and Sanja Mikleušević Pavić, who heads the HND branch on the HRT.

"As far as the 36 lawsuits by the HRT against other media outlets, its own employees and the HND are concerned, all I can say is - withdraw them unconditionally, there can be no negotiation on that. We will never apologise for what we said because it is the truth," Zovko said.

Sanja Despot of the HND read out eight demands against censorship to be presented to the government, including the demands to stop the current lawsuits, provide legal protection for reporters who warn of the pressure they are exposed to, depoliticise the Electronic Media Council, dismiss the HRT's management and urgently amend the HRT Law.

Apart from that, the HND demands that the Law on the Media be implemented, local power-wielders who usurp the media be stopped, and that attackers on reporters be identified and brought to justice.

More news on the media freedoms in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 25 June 2018

Journalist Assaulted for Writing about Corruption

ZAGREB, June 25, 2018 - The Croatian Journalists Association (HND) on Monday condemned in the strongest terms a physical assault on Zadar journalist Hrvoje Bajlo, who sustained severe injuries, and demanded a swift and clear response from the state authorities.

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