Signed “Cooperation Agreement” between the Ministry of the Interior and the journalists’ associations CJA and TUCJ

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Source/Author: CJA / MUP
Source/Photo: MUP

“The agreement will contribute to the development of mutual cooperation, respect, and understanding, as well as to the improvement of the reputation and professional integrity of the police and journalistic professions, with the aim of ensuring and preserving a stimulating and safe environment and eliminating dangers in carrying out work duties,” emphasized Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović on the occasion of the signing of the “Cooperation Agreement” between the Ministry of the Interior and the journalists’ associations.

Today, at the headquarters of the Ministry of the Interior in Zagreb, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović, along with the President of the Croatian Journalists’ Association (CJA) Hrvoje Zovko and the President of the Trade Union of Croatian Journalists (TUCJ) Maja Sever, signed the Cooperation Agreement and two accompanying protocols:

Protocol on the conduct of police, journalists, and other media professionals at public gatherings of public interest, and

Protocol on the conduct of the police upon learning of a criminal offense committed against journalists and other media professionals in the performance of their duties.

The two accompanying protocols further define, or elaborate separately, the conduct of police officers and media professionals at public gatherings of public interest, and in the other case, the conduct of police officers upon learning of a criminal offense committed against journalists and other media professionals in the performance of their duties, with the aim of creating conditions for the effective conduct of criminal investigations of criminal offenses, explained the Minister of the Interior, Davor Božinović.

“This is a significant step in protecting media professionals. On behalf of the CJA, I express satisfaction, and I must say that we have had very good cooperation with the police so far, and I believe that today’s signed agreement and protocols are a good basis for further cooperation. The safety of our colleagues in performing work of public interest is irreplaceable. Now it is up to the publishers to apply this Agreement and protocols, but also to ensure the safety of our colleagues through better working conditions and salaries. We also expect the prosecution to ultimately join this project,” said CJA President Hrvoje Zovko.

The signing was attended by the Director of the Media and Cultural Industries Development Administration at the Ministry of Culture and Media, Jasna Vaniček-Fila, who is also the national coordinator of the Council of Europe campaign for the protection of media professionals.

This is the implementation of the Recommendation of the European Commission of September 16, 2021, on ensuring the protection, safety, and strengthening of the position of journalists and other media professionals in the European Union.

“The protection of the safety of journalists is one of our priorities. Unfortunately, attacks are becoming more frequent and more severe. The problem has been recognized by the European Commission, which has published Recommendations on ensuring the protection, safety, and strengthening of the position of journalists and other media professionals in the European Union, emphasizing cooperation and the introduction of a fast mechanism to establish an effective protection system. Our goal is for our colleagues to know how to prepare for work in the field, protect themselves, and what to do if an attack occurs. This is the first step, but without the involvement of employers in media houses, who must take their share of responsibility for the safe work of journalists and cooperation with the bodies of the judicial system, we will not build an efficient system. Therefore, I call on these actors of this important story to join so that our colleagues can work freely and safely,” appealed TUCJ President Maja Sever.

The above recommendation reminds that the member states of the European Union:

respect freedom and pluralism of the media, including freedom of opinion and the receipt and dissemination of information and ideas without the interference of public authorities,
consider the territory of the European Union as one of the safest spaces for journalists and other media professionals, but also
aim to take further action to protect, ensure the safety, and strengthen journalists and other media professionals, in order to ensure and preserve a stimulating environment for journalists and other media professionals.

According to available data, as of September 1, 2023, the police have recorded five incidents related to persons performing journalistic activities. During the past 2022, the police recorded ten incidents, and the year before, in 2021, they recorded 15 incidents related to persons performing journalistic activities.
Minister Božinović emphasized that the police are committed to continuously planning and taking necessary activities for the safe and unimpeded work of media professionals.

“In dealing with such incidents of criminal threats, police officers approach professionally and with due care, considering that it is a criminal offense against personal freedom, especially if it is a more serious form, i.e., if the offense is committed against an official or responsible person or against a journalist in connection with his/her job, for which a prison sentence of up to five years can be imposed. In such cases, the police react promptly and, in cooperation with the injured person, initiate criminal investigations, police inquiries, all with the aim of establishing the identity of the perpetrator and all circumstances of the criminal offense,” explained Minister Božinović.

“Our expectations are that through the Agreement, we will contribute to the development of mutual cooperation, respect, and understanding, as well as to the improvement of the reputation and professional integrity of the police and journalistic professions, with the aim of ensuring and preserving a stimulating and safe environment and eliminating dangers in carrying out work duties. The Agreement, among other things, encourages mutual respect for the ethical principles of the police and journalistic professions, as well as the understanding of the specificities of these two professions,” concluded Božinović.