ZAGREB, Croatia – Several hundred Croatian journalists protested Saturday, March 2 in the capital Zagreb against a wave of lawsuits filed against them, which they argue amounts to an attempt to censor them.
The protest was organized by the Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) to highlight the threat posed by what they say are more than 1,100 lawsuits filed against journalists and media outlets.
But it was also a protest against what they say is political pressure, threats to reporters and a failure to respect media laws. (READ: Maria Ressa, other journalists named Time 'Person of the Year')
The protesters marched through downtown Zagreb blowing whistles and playing drums.
"Enough of persecution of journalists...it has gone on for decades," Hrvoje Zovko, the leader of the HND, told those gathered for the march.
The government, he said was "behaving ignorantly... and destroying journalism".
"We live in a country where one can be condemned for publishing true information," he added.
The court cases have mainly been filed by politicians and other public figures.
Most of the time they claim compensation for non-material damages such as "mental anguish" or "tarnished reputation".
Saturday's protest was held after a nearly two-week boycott of the public HRT television by more than 40 civil society groups joined by some opposition parties and public figures.
It was staged to protest against more than 30 lawsuits, which the HND says the public broadcaster itself has filed against other media, journalists — and the HND.
Critics of the HRT, which is financed mainly through monthly license fee paid by users, say it serves the ruling parties' interests rather than operating as a genuine public service.
In January both the International and European Federations of Journalists called on HRT management to drop the lawsuits against the HND, Zovko himself and head of the broadcast branch of the journalists' association. – Rappler.com