CJA on lawsuit against Nik Titanik: A society where a cartoonist is criminally prosecuted has a serious problem!

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Source/Author: CJA
Source/Photo: CJA

This is not a joke, even though Nik Titanik has managed to make us all laugh well over the years! Because of three cartoons published in the sports section of the newspaper 24sata in late March 2020, Krešimir Antolić, former executive of GNK “Dinamo”, filed a private criminal lawsuit against Nikola Plečko, also known as Nik Titanik!

Criminally prosecuting a cartoonist is not only a serious problem for the plaintiff but also for the entire society. If Nik Titanik is found guilty of his artistic work, any citizen of this country who tells a joke about Krešimir Antolić or any similarly offended figure of the same caliber can end up in court, facing criminal prosecution and conviction! This case could set a legal precedent for all future cases involving criticism of public figures, significantly endangering media and democratic freedoms in Croatia and limiting the free work of all cartoonists, humorists, satirists, stand-up comedians, photo manipulators, and other similar artists, as well as all journalists who write critically about public figures and topics important to the public.

Therefore, the Croatian Journalists’ Association (CJA) takes extremely seriously the criminal prosecution of Nik Titanik, which is happening at a time when media freedoms are dwindling, journalists are increasingly persecuted, and instead of working to make journalism a public good, the government is preparing even more stringent laws that will criminalize journalists for every attempt they make to uncover the truth. Every free and truly democratic society needs a concise and intelligent sum of daily events in a context that gives them meaning, as well as satire, humor, and cartoons, which are an integral and indispensable part of journalistic discourse.

Unfortunately, the case of Nik Titanik is neither a precedent nor an isolated example of such journalists being criminally prosecuted. The Croatian Journalists’ Association expresses its concern also about many previous cases in which our colleagues have been convicted. Just remember the judgments against Viktor Ivančić for the article “Two Little Pigs,” the repeated, serial harassment of Boris Dežulović by Željka Markić, or when, after a final judgment, Velimir Bujanec seized the satirical portal NewsBar. “If I say something serious now, someone will sue me. If I say something unserious, I’ll still be sued. It’s best for a man to keep silent, although silence could soon be litigated,” said Domagoj Zovak, the author of the “incriminated” satirical text, bitterly speaking on that occasion.

We refuse to remain silent, we refuse to see journalists criminally prosecuted for written words, spoken or drawn satire and jokes, and we will follow the legal process of our colleague Nik Titanik and inform the international community about the criminal prosecution of a cartoonist. Let them laugh too.

For the Executive Board of the CJA,

Hrvoje Zovko, President of the CJA