Croatian journalists’ organisations signed new cooperation agreement with the police
A new Cooperation agreement was signed on 22 September 2023 between the Croatian Ministry of the Interior, the Croatian Association of Journalists (HND) and the Croatian Journalists’ Union (SNH). Its aim is to provide a safe working environment for journalists, by effectively addressing the potential risks they face in the course of their work. The initiative stems from the implementation of the key EU Recommendation on the safety of journalists issued on 16 September 2021.
Signed at the headquarters of the Ministry of the Interior in Zagreb, the agreement comprises two protocols. The first stipulates that journalists will be guaranteed a safe space in which to report on public events. Twenty-four hours before attending the event, they will be able to contact the nearest police station and announce their attendance, which will provide them with police protection. Journalists are also advised to be clearly identifiable with a PRESS sign.
The second protocol sets out guidelines for police investigations into criminal offenses committed against journalists. As stated in the text, the police will provide immediate support and assistance to journalists in need and will open investigations with a view to bringing criminal proceedings against those responsible for the attack on a journalist.
In addition, an email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) has been set up to ensure secure communication between journalists and the police.
Maja Sever, president of SNH and of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), stressed the critical need for measures to guarantee the freedom and safety of journalists in Croatia. “Protecting the safety of journalists is one of the priorities of our work. Unfortunately, attacks are becoming more frequent and violent,” she said. According to Sever, the police recorded five attacks on journalists between January and August 2023 (10 incidents in 2022 and 15 incidents in 2021). She also called for the active involvement of employers within media companies, urging them to assume their share of responsibility by guaranteeing the journalists’ safe working conditions and salaries.
“This is a big step forward in the protection of media workers. On behalf of HND, I must say that we have cooperated very well with the police so far. I believe that the Agreement and protocols signed today are a good basis for further cooperation,” added Hrvoje Zovko, President of the Croatian Journalists’ Association (HND). He called on the Public Prosecutor’s Office to join this initiative, emphasising the global and collective effort required to protect journalists effectively.
Internal affairs minister Davor Božinović also stressed the police’s commitment to taking the necessary measures to ensure the safe working environment of media professionals: “With this agreement, we will contribute to the development of mutual cooperation, respect and understanding, and to the improvement of the reputation and professional integrity of the police and the journalist profession, with the aim of ensuring and preserving a stimulating and safe working environment.”
The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) welcomed a major initiative which will have a positive impact on media professionals in Croatia.
This statement by EFJ is part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries.