The Western Balkan’s Regional Platform for Advocating Media Freedom and Journalists’ Safety(*) expressed its deepest concerns following the physical attack on May 12 against Croatian journalist Mladen Mirković in the town of Požega. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) backs its six affiliates in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, Kosovo, Serbia and Macedonia, in calling on the authorities to swiftly investigate the case.
The assaillant was Požega mayor Vedran Neferović. According to Mirković, the attack happened after the mayor invited him for a meeting at his office. He wanted to know who had written some articles published on the website the journalist is working for, 034portal.hr
In a press release published by the Croatian Journalists’ Association (CJA), Mirković described the violence of the assault: “The mayor immediately started to shout and to threaten me and everyone else in the office, with death. He pushed me against the wall, smacked me in the face and literally kicked me out of the office.” Mirković filed a criminal charge against the mayor. The court issued a restraining order.
The platform reminds that any attack against a journalist is an attack against the freedom of expression and the right of citizens to be informed: “While the Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has already condemned this attack, a strong message is yet to be sent to the Croatian citizens that such a behavior is not acceptable.”
The assault intervened while Ombudsmen from 20 European countries were attending in Croatia’s capital an international conference organised by the Croatian Parliament on the theme “Protection of human rights and strengthening democracy in Europe”. The CJA informed the participants about the attack, including Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights.
The EFJ/IFJ submitted the case to the Council of Europe platform for the safety of journalists.
— CoE Media Freedom (@CoEMediaFreedom) May 22, 2017
* The Regional Platform for Advocating Media Freedom and Journalists’ Safet is a network of journalists’ associations and media trade unions in Western Balkan countries, established in January 2016, which monitors attacks against journalists in the region.
Photo credit: CJA