Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has called on the Croatian government to condemn recent messages of hatred and threats against journalists.
The words smrt novinarima (death to journalists) were written on the outside of a news website’s offices in the coastal city of Zadar in late August. The same words were painted near the Zagreb headquarters of the N1 TV channel and two websites, Net.hr and Telegram.hr, in March. Most recently, on September 8, journalists in the city of Split were insulted and likened to Novinari crvi (earthworms).
“There are constant attacks against journalists from sectors ranging from the Catholic Church to politicians, and yet the government says nothing,” said Hrvoje Zovko, the president of the Croatian Journalists’ Association (HND). “It’s open season on journalists.”
According to RSF, the messages have the purpose of attacking, intimidating and smearing journalists to the point of dissuading them from pursuing their mission to report the news, while Croatian authorities have remained astonishingly silent about them.
“The Croatian authorities must explicitly condemn such practices and end the unhealthy climate of impunity reigning in Croatia, which is a real danger for its journalists,” said Pauline Adès-Mével, the head of RSF’s European Union and Balkans desk. “Doing nothing is tantamount to giving free rein to those who threaten the media.”
Ahead of its presidency of the Council of the European Union which begins in less than four months, Croatia is ranked 64th out of 180 countries in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index.