Over 1,100 lawsuits were filed against journalists and media outlets in Croatia, in what seems to be an attempt of the government to implement media censorship.
In relation to this, hundreds of Croatian journalists held a rally on March 2 in Zagreb, the country’s capital; the protest was organized by Croatian Journalists’ Association (HND). Hrvoje Zovko, HND’s president, claims that the lawsuits are forms of media suppression and attacks on the press.
Most of the lawsuits have been filed by politicians and other influential figures. They are demanding compensation for emotional and mental damages brought by news published about them that tarnished their reputation.
According to Zovko, media harassment in Croatia has been going for on decades already but the present administration is the most aggressive in terms of media harassment. Just recently, 30 lawsuits were filed by HRT (Voice of Croatia), Croatia’s public broadcaster, against journalists including their own, for airing news incriminating of the current ruling parties.
The protesters believe that HRT serves the government’s and its ruling parties interests more, as opposed to its mandate of providing public service. The media company is supposed to be financed through monthly license fee paid by consumers and advertising profits. But in light of the recent legal intimidation, they now believe that politicians are secretly funding its leaders in exchange for silence.
The International and European Federations have reportedly called out HRT management to drop all lawsuits. In addition, Reporters Without Borders says that the government’s interference and attacks at HRT pose a problem to the journalists and the nation as well.
The protesters marched through the capital while blowing whistles and playing drums. The rally, dubbed as “You took over media, we won’t give up journalism” is to emphasize the threats on press freedom and to inform the public of the political pressures and media suppression that the journalists are currently facing.
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