Friday, 24 September 2021

Vanja Juric Says Court Ban Issued to Portal Needs Thorough Investigation

September the 24th, 2021 - Croatian lawyer Vanja Juric has stated that a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the court ban issued to a media portal prohibiting them from publishing texts on an institution and its director needs to take place. You can read more about the details here.

As Index writes, Vanja Juric, who is currently representing the H-Alter portal (which is the target of the court ban) and is otherwise an expert in media law, commented on the case during Novi Dan (New Day), which kicked up a lot of fuss and saw numerous reactions from the public, the profession and politicians.

On Tuesday, the Municipal Civil Court in Zagreb imposed a temporary measure banning the publication of articles about the director of the Polyclinic for the Protection of Children and Youth on the H-Alter portal. The lawyer representing the portal in this case, Vanja Juric, revealed what their next steps are.

"The appeal procedure is the only possible procedure, and we have a deadline of 8 days. They're convinced that they did everything right as journalists and will do everything to protect journalists' freedoms," she said, adding: "H-Alter is not allowed to publish articles about the Polyclinic or Dr. Buljan Flander, but a journalist working for any other media can continue to report on the subject."

The court did not seek a statement from the publisher

Vanja Juric pointed out that the judge did not ask the publisher or the journalist to comment:

"Neither the publisher nor the journalist were asked for their comments. The explanation states that this wasn't done because it wasn't necessary for the decision to be made. The judge is not obliged to do that, but I think that in such sensitive matters the judge had to assess that it is possible in this procedure, and the portal should be given an opportunity to comment, and then it needs to be seen whether this should be treated as something to be reported.''

When asked if Dr. Gordana Buljan Flander had other methods if she thought that the journalist was belittling or telling lies about her, Juric said:

"This was a bad assessment, a misuse of the institute of an interim measure. According to Croatian media law, there are a number of ways to react in these cases. To my knowledge, the Polyclinic and Buljan Flander responded with requests to correct the information that was published. This was wrong in a number of ways, but the focus should be on what the court does, which is not there to look after the rights of the Polyclinic, but also the rights of all of us. The key is to focus on how such a court decision could have been made at all.''

Vanja Juric believes that this decision cannot survive and that the County Court will need to overturn the decision.

"That said, if it does remain like this, it opens the door to the most serious violations of media freedoms. It isn't that someone is seeking the removal of a certain text, but that the court is prohibiting any reporting on the professional work of an institution in the future at all, regardless of the circumstances, and regardless of a positive or negative context. That is why this is very dangerous,'' she added.

Shocking testimonies...

The story of the work of the Polyclinic came into the public spotlight mainly after Severina's confession, although about 40 women were included in this series of stories and texts.

"Before all this, I followed the story and when Severina came out with her testimony, I was deeply upset by it. I think it's commendable that she, as a public figure who has influence, decided to go public with such a personal topic and encourage public debate on topics that are important. When mothers face someone more powerful than themselves during divorce proceedings. Any person who uses their influence in public to draw attention to things like this should be encouraged to do so,'' Vanja Juric noted.

The interim measure must be justified within a period of 30 days, and it can only be through a lawsuit, we cannot yet know what exactly it will be, she added.

Juric made sure to emphasis the fact that she truly doesn't recall any such examples before: "This has set a precedent. There have been attempts at interim measures to request the removal of one or more articles, or to prohibit the publication of a particular story, but a ban on future reporting, something like this has never happened in Croatia, and as far as I know - in the world.''

The lawyer says the story should be investigated to the very end and then we can really reveal how well-founded these damning allegations are:

"The only thing that makes sense now are to check it all. The accusations made by these women, and all the texts are based on serious testimonies, there can be no justification for the authorities not to do anything. The only logical thing is to check everything, everything needs to be clarified to the end. Legal stories such as this can take years. I hope common sense will prevail, that the Polyclinic will see the error of its ways and that it will withdraw the request for an interim measure. I expect if it remains in force and if a court case is initiated, then we'll be talking about a period of three to five years,'' concluded Vanja Juric.

For more, follow our lifestyle section.

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Lawyer Vanja Juric: Court Ban on Writing about Someone Has Never Been Seen Before

September the 23rd, 2021 - Croatian lawyer Vanja Juric has spoken out about the court ban issued to a certain media portal on writing about certain institutions and people, adding that something like that has never been seen before in this country.

As Index writes, after the court made a scandalous decision that the H-alter portal and journalist Jelena Jindra are no longer allowed to publish texts and write about the Child Protection Polyclinic and its head Gordana Buljan Flander, the reactions have been coming in fast.

Minister of Culture: How is that possible?

"How is it possible to make a decision to forbid someone to write about something in advance. Any dispute regarding articles in the media can be resolved by a denial, or a request for correction, but in this way, it stops journalists from even writing about something ...", said Minister Obuljen Korzinek.

Lawyer Vanja Juric: It's one of the most severe attacks on media freedoms we've seen.

“Without any exaggeration, this is one of the most severe attacks on media freedoms in general. The court banned any media outlet, which dealt with a topic of very serious social importance, from any future reporting on the work of that public institution and the head of that institution. The ban is formulated completely generally, so, legally and factually, it refers to all topics that in any way relate to the professional activities carried out by public authorities.

The court didn't request any statement from the media or from the journalist who wrote those articles, explaining that such a statement isn't necessary for the making of that decision. Such a decision has not been recorded in the practice of Croatian courts before, it's contrary to all standards of the European Court of Human Rights and, in general, to the fundamental principles of a democratic society. It opens the door to all state and public bodies, politicians, officials and all other persons to try to stop journalistic reporting in the same way, given that it is now clear that it is quite possible that such attempts will be approved by the court,'' lawyer Vanja Juric said in conversation with Index.

''The judiciary wants to silence the media'' this was the Croatian Journalists' Association's reaction.

"By use of the ''Insurance Decision'' issued by the Municipal Civil Court in Zagreb of the 21st of September 2021, which imposes a temporary measure banning the Association of Independent Media Culture, the publisher of the H-alter portal, from publishing articles about the Child and Youth Protection Clinic of the City of Zagreb and its director Gordana Buljan Flander, the Croatian judiciary has resorted to unprecedented censorship in advance,'' they claim.

"After H-alter published a series of articles by journalist Jelena Jindra over the past few weeks entitled The system for the protection of, or the abuse of children?, in which it problematises the work of Gordana Buljan Flander, ie the Polyclinic she heads, Judge Andrija Krivak signed a scandalous decision meaning that this medium is forbidden to write about a particular person.

The court assessed the journalistic research of colleague Jindra allegedly without trying to obtain anything from the editor or journalist and the publisher's representative. Instead of discussing any doubts in a regular trial, the judge decided to further ban H-alter from investigating the actions of a public institution and its director. Such a precedent could be absolutely disastrous for media freedom in Croatia.

After years of witnessing SLAP lawsuits against journalists, this time the judiciary went a step further and decided to silence the media portal entirely. It should be noted that the director of this institution and her associates, according to the testimony of colleagues, have repeatedly missed the opportunity to present to the public their view of the controversial doctrine of ''child alienation''.

The Croatian Journalists' Association and the Croatian Journalists' Union both believe that this is an extremely dangerous attempt at censorship and the inadmissible silence of the media.

They have both therefore called on all Croatian media, all journalists and editors, to resist this form of pressure and, in solidarity with their colleague Jindra and the non-profit portal H-alter, broadcast the her series researching the institition and thus show that we cannot be silenced. The above was fully supported by Maja Sever, President of the Croatian Journalists' Union and Hrvoje Zovko, President of the Croatian Journalists' Association.

Lawyer Vesna Alaburic: This is biggest restriction on media freedom in Croatia

"The decision prohibiting the publisher of the H-Alter portal from publishing any information about Gordana Buljan Flander and the polyclinic she manages is an unprecedented restriction on media freedom in our country, it's also the biggest. As far as I know, never in the history of the Croatian judicial system has a media outlet been banned from publishing any articles about an individual or an institution.

From the multitude of possible objections to this unprecedented ban, I'll single out a few.

First, an absolute, non-selective ban on publishing any information about a legal entity, regardless of its truthfulness and public interest, constitutes the abolition of media freedoms. Therefore, this prohibition is contrary to the fundamental legal principles of the protection of freedom of expression and can in no way be justified by the need to protect a personality.

The ban regarding the publisher of the H-Alter portal is not an obstacle for publishing articles by our excellent journalist Jelena Jindra about Dr. Buljan Flander and the polyclinic in other media or communication platforms. That is why this ban cannot serve the purpose that Dr. Buljan Flander expected and for which the court determined it. On the contrary, this ban will focus the attention of the entire Croatian public on H-Alter and the texts of Jelena Jindra and all information about Dr. Buljan Flander that the court considered disputable will receive huge publicity.

"All court conclusions are to the detriment of the author and publisher"

Furthermore, the court concluded that it didn't require the statement of the publisher, editor-in-chief or the author of the disputed texts. The judge analysed the texts and assessed whether the journalist acted in good faith, whether she performed her journalistic work professionally and in accordance with the rules of the profession, whether she made some controversial claims intentionally, whether she faithfully transmitted the statements of others and the like. All court conclusions are to the detriment of the author and publisher. Such conduct of the court constitutes a grave violation of the right to a fair trial, in particular the right of each party to the proceedings to comment on the opposing party's motions, present its arguments and propose evidence.

''I'm particularly concerned about the part of the decision in which the court argues that a fair balance should be struck between the conflicting rights to the protection of the right to personality and the right to freedom of expression. The court showed a complete lack of understanding of the legal standards for the protection of the freedom of expression. Even Dr. Buljan Flander herself stated in the ban proposal that it is "justified to expect media interest" in these topics.

The court, however, did not take public interest into account, nor did it even consider the almost unlimited right of the public to be informed of information and opinions on topics of public interest. If any of this information is incorrect, the sanction will be appropriate compensation for damages to the injured parties. And that is the limit of freedom of expression set by a democratic society in order to protect the rights of others,'' commented lawyer Vesna Alaburic.

For more, follow our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Croatian Media Compares Paul Bradbury Lawsuit to Kafka's 'The Trial'

As the articles surrounding the Paul Bradbury lawsuit launched by the Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ) continue being published in the Croatian media, one portal even brings the likes of Franz Kafka into the mix.

As Express/Emir Imamovic Pirke writes, had Franz Kafka been born exactly 100 years later, and not in 1883, and if he'd been born in Zagreb instead of Prague, he would be less than forty years old today, and he'd have started writing his most famous novel only in 2014.

His (would-have-been) Croatian publication "The Trial" wouldn't have had just under 300 pages in the Croatian case, and readers would have to either go to the library in a car or have his book delivered with a vehicle of some sort.

"Someone must have slandered Josef K." is the first part of the first sentence of "The Trial,", a famous book which is still relevant to this very day. The situation surrounding the Paul Bradbury lawsuit must ring true to the feelings brought about by Josed K these days. He doesn't know who is going to judge him, nor does he really have a clue as to why.

"Ha! What have I done... My lawyer Vanja Juric is trying to understand that herself. The thing is that I've been writing in Croatia for a decade now and nothing about the Croatian National Tourist Board surprises me anymore. Honestly, all of this is quite hilarious to me, but I was shocked when I received the lawsuit,'' Paul Bradbury told N1 when commenting on the lawsuit filed against him by the Croatian National Tourist Board, who allegedly did so because they felt offended because he'd played around with the slogan ''Croatia full of life "on Facebook, turning it instead into “Croatia full of uhljebs”.

If, then, the move on social media was defaming or slandering the Croatian National Tourist Board, then Bradbury is a slanderer who must now defend himself against such an accusation in a Croatian court of law, even though he expressed what has become very much a majority opinion with a bit of satire. Most people, however, cannot be prosecuted, so the British blogger and promoter of Croatian tourism will, sooner or later, have to face slander at his own expense because he can't be punished for this otherwise. Namely, his guilt in this case must first actually be invented.

Almost two decades ago, Paul Bradbury sold his house in the UK and, thanks to a TV commercial, decided to come and live here in Croatia. What caught his eye was a video with the usual depiction of the natural beauty of the country and that old slogan about the Mediterranean as it allegedly used to be, and it was produced and paid for by no less than the Croatian National Tourist Board.

Yes, that very same Croatian National Tourist Board that has since created the very bizarre Paul Bradbury lawsuit all because of a Facebook post.

"The crazy Englishman/Ludi Englez", as Bradbury is affectionately referred to in Jelsa, didn't realise his Croatian dream by converting pound sterling from the sale of that house in Britain into euros and merely buying a Hvar property with them, then sticking that familiar old blue ''Apartments'' sign somewhere near the door - much more than that was done.

In his now long time spent discovering a country that advertises its own tourist offer as if the whole world is still using dial-up, he first launched the portal Total Hvar, then Total Split, Total Inland Dalmatia, Total Zagreb and Total Dubrovnik, and finally Total Croatia News, which has since been declared the most influential local medium in the English language. In addition, Bradbury is considered the most influential Croatian blogger and a very sharp critic of the Croatian National Tourist Board, considering it to be cumbersome, expensive and passive, and aldo claiming that its abolition wouldn't negatively affect the tourism industry in any way.

There are, for example, county, city and local offices of the Croatian National Tourist Board that have purposes for themselves and themselves only, as well as those without which a good part of the independent cultural scene on the coast would find it even more difficult to survive than today, just as there are employees whose only obligation is to come to work, and there are those who aren't lazy at all and often find themselves engaged in tasks which go far beyond those prescribed by their employment contract.

However, the naturalised British journalist won't go to court because of his lack of a distinction between any of the above, but because of the excess fears of certain individuals whose dire inefficiency is inversely proportional to the opposite effects of Bradbury's hard work, and because the deep urge for self-preservation has become stronger than the interests of the body itself.

Recalling the events which take place in the aforementioned, famed publication, in the Croatian Trial, had Kafka been born in a different time and place - the Croatian National Tourist Board vs. Paul Bradbury - the prosecutor, ie the Croatian National Tourist Board, is actually performing a Kafkaesque play in which they turns their own guilt for the success of the independent initiator of tourist portals around, but not because the accused is wrong - quite on the contrary - because he's essentially right.

After all, could the Croatian National Tourist Board have launched the Total Croatia News portal? After the success of the Total Hvar or Total Split platform, could the Croatian National Tourist Board not simply purchase both the name and the concept from the author and then go on to further develop them? Couldn't someone, given that Paul Bradbury has already dotted all of the i's and crossed all of the t's, have had the bright idea to hire him the way production companies are hired to create videos of pretty panoramic shots of the islands and close-ups of wine glasses that would bring British tourists with deep pockets flocking to Brela during summer?

Why, after all, does the Croatian National Tourist Board not use resources it has within reach to develop its own network of sites made in foreign languages ​​- media that will offer better content than that of Paul Bradbury, whose Croatian mixes an English accent with a Hvar dialect? As simple as the answers are to each of these questions - each of them would imply effort being made. The very notion of that would mean that the entire local administrative apparatus would end up working against itself.

Namely, it all rests on the fact that nothing changes at any cost, so that, when it is shown that changes are both possible and necessary, instead of autocorrection and moving forward, it starts the Kafkaesque process of removing evidence that would not exist if Bradbury hadn't managed to find empty space to profit from tourism in a country that otherwise lives from tourism almost entirely. Oh, and of course, from EU funds, loans and... And... That's mostly it.

For more on the Paul Bradbury lawsuit (both of them), click here and here.

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Croatian National Tourist Board Sues TCN: Lawsuit 2 (50,000 Kuna)

April 13, 2021 - The Croatian National Tourist Board has sued Total Croatia News CEO Paul Bradbury twice, seeking a total of 100,000 kuna in damages. The second full lawsuit and reply by Bradbury's lawyer, Vanja Juric. 

(Please note that I have decided not to republish the meme in question, as the case is ongoing, but you can view it here, as it has also been published by Croatian media)

Business number: 42 Pn-2037/20-5

Legal matter: Plaintiff: Croatian National Tourist Board

Defendant: Paul David Raymond Bradbury

Matter: damages

An invitation to the defendant to file a response to the lawsuit

The lawsuit dated 12 August 2020 is submitted to the defendant, and he is invited to respond to the lawsuit (Article 284, paragraph 1 of the Civil Procedure Act - OG 53/91, 91/92, 112/99, 88/01, 117/03, 88/05, 2/07, 84/08, 96/08, 123/08, 57/11, 148/11, 25/13, 89/14 and 70/19 - further: ZPP).

The deadline for filing a response to the lawsuit is set at 30 days from the date of delivery of the lawsuit (Article 285, paragraph 2 of the LCP).

In response to the lawsuit, the defendant is obliged to state all of the relevant facts and propose all of the evidence to refute the allegations and evidence of the opponent, the defendant can comment on the claims and allegations of the lawsuit, is obliged to attach the documents referred to, if possible, and after the conclusion of the previous procedure, the defendant may not present new facts and propose new evidence, except in the case referred to in Art. 299 para. 2 of the LCP (Art. 284 para. 3 and Art. 285 para. 1 of the LCP).

If the defendant does not file a response to the lawsuit within the specified period, a judgment will be rendered accepting the claim if the conditions from Art. 331.b. paragraph 1 of the CAP.

The response to the lawsuit must be submitted by reference to the above business number of the file in two copies.

In Zagreb on November 19, 2020

Judge: Davorka Ćurko Nasić, acting

For the accuracy, the dispatch-authorised officer:

Ina Ježić

Record number: 1789a-e92cc Control number: 07caf-a816f-8cbf7

This document is digitally signed electronically with the following certificate: CN = e-Justice, L = ZAGREB, OID. = HR72910430276, O = MINISTRY OF JUSTICE AND ADMINISTRATION, C = HR

You can check the authenticity of the document at the following web address: by entering the above record number and document control number. You can also check by scanning the QR code. In both cases, the system will display the original of this document. If this document is identical to the original shown in digital form, the Municipal Civil Court in Zagreb will confirm the authenticity of the document.

1. The plaintiff is the umbrella national tourist organisation in the Republic of Croatia, the organisation, tasks, manner and the objectives of which are regulated by the Law on Tourist Boards and the Promotion of Croatian Tourism.
Therefore, in their work and activities, the plaintiff acts only and exclusively in accordance with their role as is defined by the Law on Tourist Boards and the Promotion of Croatian Tourism.
EVIDENCE: - The hearing of the parties;
2. The plaintiff, as the umbrella tourist organisation, presents the Republic of Croatia as a tourist destination on international tourist markets through the official logo and slogan "Croatia Full of Life".
On 05.08.2020. On his Facebook profile, the defendant published a maliciously altered official logo of Croatia as a tourist destination on his Facebook profile (cover image/photo) in such a way that the plaintiff's official slogan known and recognisable worldwide as "Croatia Full of Life" was maliciously and mockingly altered to "Croatia Full of uhljebs"

EVIDENCE: - The defendant's post on his Facebook profile, attached in a copy;

3. By the described conduct, the defendant, in a public space, presents the plaintiff in a mocking and malicious manner as an organisation made up of unprofessional persons politically installed in positions within the organisation itself, which is absolutely incorrect and untrue.

Namely, as mentioned above, the entire organisation and manner of the work [carried out by] the plaintiff is based on strict compliance with all Croatian laws and regulations, especially the Law on Tourist Boards and the promotion of Croatian tourism.

Following the above, it is obvious that by publishing the previously cited untrue and insulting allegation, the defendant grossly and severely violated the plaintiff's character within what is set out in Article 19 of the Civil Obligations Act, which is reflected in the violation of reputation and reputation.
Precisely for this reason, and due to the violation of the plaintiff's reputation, the plaintiff in this civil proceeding demands from the defendant adequate monetary satisfaction in the amount of 50,000.00 kuna.

EVIDENCE: - The hearing of the [involved/present] parties;

- As before, - if necessary, other evidence [can be presented];

4. Following all the above, the plaintiff proposes that the competent court, following the evidentiary procedure, render the following:
I. The defendant is ordered to pay the plaintiff the amount of 50,000.00 kuna together with the corresponding statutory default interest rate from 07.08.2020 as the date of the filing pf the lawsuit until payment at the rate of the average interest rate on loans granted for a period longer than one year to non-financial companies calculated for the reference period preceding the current half [of the year], increased by three percentage points, within 15 days under the threat of enforcement/foreclosure (ovrha)
II. The defendant is ordered to reimburse the plaintiff for the incurred litigation costs together with the corresponding statutory default interest from the date of the first instance judgment until payment at the rate of the average interest rate on loans granted for more than one year to nonfinancial companies calculated for the previous reference period increased by three percentage points, within 15 days under the threat of enforcement/foreclosure (ovrha).

Bradbury Lawyer Vanja Juric Reply

I. The defendant authorised attorney Vanja Jurić from Zagreb, Ulica grada Mainza 13 to represent him in this case, so it is proposed to deliver all letters [relating to this case] to the address of the law office.
II. The defendant fully disputes the merits of the lawsuit and the amount of the lawsuit, for the following reasons:

1. The plaintiff is not actively legitimised.

1.1. The plaintiff filed the lawsuit for the purpose of satirical publication/caricature of the tourist slogan of the Republic of Croatia, and on the defendant’s private Facebook profile. The disputed publication contains the words "Croatia full of uhljebs".

1.2. The content that is the subject of this proceeding does not mention the plaintiff, their employees, or management, nor does it mention the actions of the defendant, nor does it refer to the plaintiff in any single part of it. Indeed, the controversial publication doesn't even relate to the plaintiff nor was it conceived or published for that purpose.
1.3. Consequently, the rights of the plaintiff's person (as an entity), could not have been violated on this basis, so the plaintiff is not actively entitled to conduct this procedure nor does the plaintiff have any legal interest in initiating it. In accordance with the allegations, the defendant proposes, without further discussion, to have the claim rejected in its entirety.

EVIDENCE: - An insight into the disputed publication of the defendant.

2. The plaintiff did not request an apology or the removal of the publication

2.1. The Civil Obligations Act (Croatian: ZOO), in Art. 1099 and 1100 determine the ways of repairing non-pecuniary damage. The ZOO determines that "non-pecuniary damage is primarily repaired" by publishing a correction, withdrawing the statement by which the violation was committed or whatever else that can achieve the purpose achieved by fair monetary compensation. " The payment of fair monetary compensation is prescribed by law only as a secondary way of repairing non-pecuniary damage, and only when "the severity of the injury and the circumstances of the case justify it."

2.2. As can be seen from the lawsuit itself, the disputed content was published on August the 5th, 2020, and the plaintiff had already filed a lawsuit in this case on August the 12th, ie only 7 days later. The plaintiff, if the damage had actually occurred to them, would have asked the defendant to remove the disputed publication or seek an apology. However, the plaintiff does not seek such means (the removal of the publication, the publication of a final judgment, an apology etc.) even in this procedure, which shows that the plaintiff did not make even the slightest effort to correct the allegedly harmful information or for the defendant to ''compensate them'' for any of the alleged damage in ways that, as primary means, the law allows for. The plaintiff, by not filing a request for an apology or a withdrawal of the statement, showed that no harm was actually done to them.

3. Context - the Croatia full of life slogan

3.1. The slogan Croatia full of life is not a sign/stamp that marks the Croatian National Tourist Board, but the slogan of the Republic of Croatia as a tourist destination. This fact is not disputed by the plaintiff themselves, when they state in the lawsuit that the aforementioned slogan "presents the Republic of Croatia as a tourist destination on global tourist markets."

EVIDENCE: - This is indisputable/is generally known
- An insight into the content of the lawsuit

3.2. During the disputed period, the tourist season in Croatia was going on, during the coronavirus pandemic, which led to a continuous public debate on the state of Croatian tourism, the efforts and effects of the state to effectively present Croatia as a safe tourist destination for foreign guests and to improve tourism results in such difficult circumstances.

3.3. The publication of the defendant was part of such a public debate, and referred in general to the Republic of Croatia, the state administration system and a slow and non-innovative system that fails to recognise the seriousness of the situation and reacts extremely sluggishly to new circumstances. The term "uhljeb" does not refer to the plaintiff, but to the entire state apparatus which, due to the way it functions, is not able to react to these altered market circumstances.

EVIDENCE: - The hearing of the defendant

4. Public interest

4.1. Tourism is one of the economic branches from which a significant number of Croatian citizens live. In addition, Croatia's revenues from tourism reach as much as 25% of GDP, so there can be no doubt that the success of tourism and tourism as such is a matter of significant public interest.

4.2. On the other hand, even if the disputed publication had referred to the plaintiff - the plaintiff is a public authority, whose activities are financed with taxpayers' money and which is responsible for the affairs and functioning of the tourism industry in Croatia. Therefore, any member of the public or the media has the right and duty to comment, criticise and problematise their public actions and all circumstances related to the performance of tasks delegated to them. In that sense, every member of the public or the media would have the right to state a value judgment about the plaintiff as an "uhljeb".

5. Assumptions of liability for damages

5.1. In proceedings of this kind, the plaintiff is required to prove the cumulative existence of all presumptions of liability for damages. The plaintiff has not, nor will they be able to prove these assumptions, since:

- The disputed publication does not mention or refer to the plaintiff at all;
- The information in question is not objectively capable of harming the plaintiff;
- The publication of the defendant does not constitute a harmful act, since it represents a satirical value judgment on the Republic of Croatia and on a topic of public interest;
- The defendant's conduct is not unlawful.

5.2. Given that the facts in this case are quite clear, the defendant at this stage will not go into more detail to clarify each of these items and refer to specific decisions of Croatian courts and the European Court of Human Rights, relating to the freedom of expression and the responsibility for [the expression] of opinion. However, the defendant draws the court's attention to the plaintiff's allegations that the defendant acted unlawfully, given that such a possible finding of the court would be contrary to all existing standards of freedom of expression, especially when such expression refers to the work of the state or public authorities. Making established judgments about the work of public authorities is not and cannot be illegal.

6. An attempt to retaliate against the defendant

6.1. The defendant considers that this lawsuit was not filed for damages to be claimed by the plaintiff, but as an attempt to retaliate against the defendant. Namely, this is the second procedure initiated by the plaintiff against the defendant personally, although there is no valid legal basis for this and it is certain that the plaintiff cannot succeed in these proceedings. The defendant considers that the plaintiff, with taxpayers' money, ie money from the state budget of the Republic of Croatia, is financing the conduct of such proceedings which represent unfounded and revenge litigation, with the purpose of causing censorship from the defendant and endangering his [financial] existence. The defendant considers it inappropriate, even deeply compromising, for the plaintiff to spend taxpayers' money on "punishing" private individuals because of their expression of an opinion.

6.2. The defendant finds it indicative that the plaintiff:

- Did not submit to the defendant a request for apology or the removal of the disputed publication, to which they were legally entitled;
- Nor does the claim in this case seek the publication of a final judgment or the removal of the disputed publication (which allegedly caused so much damage to the plaintiff);
- Did not file a lawsuit against other persons and/or the media who satirically questioned the actions of the state during the tourist season;
- In the present proceedings the plaintiff seeks only a disproportionately high sum of money, in respect of the alleged damage, although it is quite clear that such damage cannot be awarded to the plaintiff, either by law or in accordance with case law;

6.3. The plaintiff, although they had a number of legal remedies at their disposal, did not take a single measure to have the alleged damage repaired/corrected, but instead filed a lawsuit directly and personally against the defendant, for damages in the amount of as much as 50,000.00 kuna. For this reason, the defendant considers that this procedure was not initiated to protect the defendant's reputation - since the information itself is not objectively suitable to harm the plaintiff - but to force the defendant to stop speaking publicly about the problems of tourism by bringing his very existence and financial stability into question. Given the provisions of the Civil Obligations Act, the defendant considers that the claim for fair monetary compensation in this case is incompatible with the legal purpose of awarding such compensation and that the claim, on this basis, should be rejected.

* * * * *

Following the above, it is proposed to the court to reject the plaintiff's claim in its entirety, and to oblige the plaintiff to reimburse the defendant for the litigation costs caused.

You can read the full text of the first lawsuit and reply here.

Thursday, 29 October 2020

Vanja Juric: 'Hate Speech is Consequence of Frustration, Poverty, Insufficient Education'

October 29, 2020 - Leading Croatian lawyer Vanja Juric is interviewed on N1 on the subject of hate speech in society.

Vanja Juric, a lawyer who often deals with court cases involving hate speech, explained to N1 the causes of this phenomenon in Croatia, the consequences for society, as well as how society can resist this phenomenon.

Juric said that hate speech as a phenomenon is not the basis of radicalization in society.

"I think a lot more care has to be taken that hate speech is a consequence, not a cause. It is a consequence of the general social climate, frustrations that have accumulated over the years, probably also poverty, insufficient education, etc.," she said.

Should hate speech be regulated by law?

"Of course it should. Should we insist that the regulation improves if it's possible? Of course it should. But we need to start from a starting point, from the fact that it is a consequence of the social climate that has been going on for a long time, I would say, and now it is further intensified by the crisis and pandemic, and in parallel, we should discuss laws. Laws and additional legal regulation cannot and must not be the only means in this struggle," said Vanja Juric.

Given her experience in hate speech trials in the courts, the Newsroom presenter was interested in how difficult it is to prove hate speech in court.

"Hate speech is regulated in different forms in different laws. When we talk about hate speech in criminal law, it can be underlined as a crime of incitement to violence and hatred.

In my experience, according to some of the cases I have been involved in, this is extremely difficult at the moment, because to prove that something constitutes a call to violence and hatred, the direct intent of the perpetrator must be proven. In the case of which I have direct knowledge, it was a very severe hate speech directed at a journalist, the State Attorney's Office did not initiate proceedings because it found that such speech, although it had elements of hate speech, in that particular case was not intentional, rather it was brought out in affect, under the influence of alcohol, the perpetrator had no intention,” she illustrated with an example from practice.

"Freedom of the media and expression is protected by the Constitution. Hate speech is not covered by freedom of expression, and no Croatian or international act would take it under freedom of speech," she said.

She added:

"Hate speech can have expressive consequences for freedom of expression."

To what extent is politics responsible for radicalization in terms of the level of public discourse?

"I would say that politics is very responsible, without any dilemma. For at least 10 years we have been encouraging divisions in society from the political level and for political reasons, and when situations like lately happen, then we wonder where hate speech comes from, where radicalization in society," Juric said.

She pointed out that politicians are the ones who should show by example what the level of productive communication is:

"Thereby they would accomplish a lot more than with the laws."

She said that the only right way for civic education is, first and foremost, to sensitize young people:

"As I said that hate speech is not a cause but a consequence, so it is a question of education how we will teach children inclusion, tolerance, and all issues that are important for productive and useful public communication. People should be encouraged to participate in discussions on all important public topics, but one has to know how to do it and I think education is a very correct answer, in addition to all the other means that have to be used."