SafeJournalists: Unacceptable Campaign Against Weekly Novosti in Croatia

    0
    452
    photo: canva

    The weekly newspaper “Novosti” has been facing threats for some time, which began after a dangerous campaign launched by the political party “Domovinski pokret” (DP) advocating the termination of Novosti’s funding.

    After the DP party announced in their election program and during the campaign that they would terminate funding for the Serbian national minority weekly “Novosti”, and continued to push this agenda after the elections, the Novosti editorial team and its journalists received multiple threats. Some of these threats were also directed to the Croatian Journalists’ Association (CJA), which received numerous phone calls, letters, and emails threatening both the leadership and many journalists who are CJA members. The police immediately conducted field investigations and interviews. Novosti is a weekly newspaper for the Serbian national minority, covering all relevant topics for Croatian society while adhering to journalistic ethics and principles as outlined in the Croatian Journalists’ Code.

    The campaign calling for the shutdown of Novosti, carried out by the DP has been ongoing for some time, and the party has promoted it in all their public statements via media and social networks. The situation has now become more serious because the DP is part of the government. Such actions by the DP not only target the weekly Novosti but also seriously threaten media freedom and constitutionally guaranteed rights of national minorities. Novosti, like other minority media, is funded from the resources allocated for cultural autonomy by the Council for National Minorities, a state body established by the Constitutional Law on the Rights of National Minorities. The DP claims that Novosti does not fulfill its role as a minority media outlet because it does not exclusively cover minority issues. However, this criticism indicates a serious segregation of minorities, as every media outlet has the right to address all topics it deems important.

    Hrvoje Zovko, president of CJA, stated: “The Croatian Journalists’ Association strongly stands with our colleagues from Novosti. If anything happens to them, we will hold the leaders of the DP responsible, who are now also the concern of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković. The threats and insults are shameful and unacceptable. An attack on Novosti is an attack on the entire journalistic community. Difficult times are ahead, but we will fight. We will not be deterred,” Zovko concluded.

    The SafeJournalists Network, representing media professionals in the Western Balkans, joins its member CJA in calling on government representatives to send a clear message condemning the threats and negative campaign against the weekly Novosti, urging for the de-escalation of tensions and the cessation of the negative narrative in the media and on social networks. We demand urgent investigations and prosecutions of individuals who threatened journalists.

     

    The SafeJournalists network will inform relevant national and international stakeholders.

    Every attack on journalists is an attack on the public interest, democracy, and the rights of all citizens.

     

    Pristina – Skopje – Sarajevo – Zagreb – Belgrade – Podgorica, 22.05.2024

     

    Association of Journalists of Kosovo

    Association of Journalists of Macedonia

    BH Journalists Association

    Croatian Journalists’ Association

    Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia

    Media Union of Montenegro