The International Federation of Journalists today protested against growing political intimidation of the Croatian Public Broadcaster, Hrvatske Radiotelevizija (HRT).
Last week HRT came under sustained attack from members of the governing political party, the Croatian Democratic Party (HDZ), during a parliamentary debate on the broadcasters’ annual report.
“Political attacks intimidate journalists into censoring their shows and towing the political line of the government in power,” said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ in a letter to the President and Prime Minister of Croatia. “There must be an immediate end to the intimidation of editors and journalists by politicians.”
Journalists and editors involved in the Latinica programme reported receiving death threats following the parliamentary debate. Politicians had launched a scathing attack on a recent episode that discussed the legacy of former President Tudjman, providing opportunities for both supporters and critics to air their views.
Two months ago Tihomir Ladisic, editor of another HRT programme Otvoreno, was removed from his post for conducting a debate on the role of the Croatian Army during the Bosnian conflict. This show had also come under sustained public criticism by HDZ politicians.
Protests have been led by the Croatian Journalists Association (CJA), an affiliate of the IFJ. Together, the IFJ and CJA called upon the government to issue a public statement that re-affirms HRT’s independence, launches a review of the Ladisic case and ends political criticism of HRT’s programming policy.
“Journalists must be able to work independently and free of interference, political or other, if they are to perform their role of informing the public and acting as watchdogs on power,” added White.
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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries