Croatian Journalists’ Association strongly condemns the police officer’s inappropriate treatment of a Croatian Radiotelevision team and other journalists on 7 April 2020 in the evening during a live broadcast in front of the Home for the Elderly and Disabled in Split, Croatia.
During the residents’ evacuation of the Home for the Elderly and Disabled, due to the outbreak of coronavirus infection, a member of the Split-Dalmatia County Police Department entered into the cadre, interrupted the reporting of Croatian Radiotelevision journalist Ivana Šilović, without holding the intended distance and without protecting equipment. The police officer acted arrogantly, waving his hands and yelling at the journalist, her guest, the television crew and other journalists, saying, “Let’s get out of here, who is this here, hello people, no matter what they do, I don’t want to see anyone here”. The incident was recorded on the recording of Dalmatia today portal. It is important to note that the journalists were stationed at a place they had received permission from the Intervention Police.
Respecting the prevention and measures that, according to the instructions of the Civil Protection Staff of the Republic of Croatia, should guarantee the safety of all citizens, including journalists, CJA continuous to warn about the requirement that journalists, cameramen, photojournalists, and other media professionals must be assured with safe and undisturbed work. A series of requests and proposals for measures that we have already addressed to the Government of the Republic of Croatia, the Ministry of Culture and the competent authorities are a guide by how journalists, media and media professionals should be treated in this complicated situation.
We recall that at the end of March, Silvana Uzinic, a journalist in Slobodna Dalmacija, was taken to the police station because of a walk that did not endanger her or anyone else’s security. Then it was found out that an accidental passer-by who tried to help the journalist and her colleague was exposed by unnecessary police brutality (they crash him to the floor and twisting his arm). The police officers confiscated the phone from a journalist’s colleague after a scuffle, deleted the footage and then brought them to the station, claiming that they called for civil disobedience. Jadran Kapor, editor-in-chief of Slobodna Dalmacija, also responded to the incident. When we thought we all learned something from that case, a new incident happened.
Once again, we warn that timely reporting of journalists and all media professionals, in times of crisis, are vital to the functioning of society. It is the task of the authorities to enable them to do so.
CJA welcome the swift response of the Split-Dalmatia Police Directorate, which addressed the media and the public with an apology for the inappropriate behavior of its officer. We consider this a positive move and a good message to the public because, as has been shown in the above cases, it is a very small step from prevention to repression.
CJA, Split, 08/04/2020