The text in question was published back in 2015 in the "Portrait of the Week" section of the Tris portal, and it presented already known facts.
CJA’s President Hrvoje Zovko said that precisely because of this, the CJA will launch a campaign in the coming days in which the names and surnames of judges who sue journalists will be published.
- This harassment of journalists – there is no other way to name this - and demanding large compensation claims for insult of honour and reputation is shameful. It is a "disdainful litigation" in which large sums of money are sought as compensation. I wonder how and who gets to determine "mental anguish" and how much it costs. This is a scandalous verdict and as such, shows that the terror of lawsuits continues, and that it needs to be stopped once and for all - said Zovko, adding that the judge initially asked for a compensation of HRK 150,000, but it was lowered to the amount of HRK 40,000.
Zovko pointed out that this is a scam and reminded that there are several serial prosecutors, recalling the President of the County Court in Osijek Zvonko Vrban, who on several occasions sued the Telegram portal and its editor-in-chief Jelena Valentić and journalist Drago Hedl, as well as the judge of the County Court in Zadar, Ivan Marković, who filed 26 lawsuits against journalists and the media, half of which are against Hanza Medija.
- Journalists are sued and attacked, and considering that, we can say: if you wanted a war, you will have it. We will not give up demanding that the provision on the insult of honour and reputation be removed from the law because it serves to pressure, introduce censorship and persecute journalists, in order to destroy them financially, as a final goal - said Zovko, adding that it is also shameful that the state does nothing about this burning issue and requested that something be done.
He also emphasized that plaintiffs should be obliged to pay a certain monetary deposit, which they would get it back at the end of the court process or it would be paid into the state budget, depending on the final verdict. This would discourage serial plaintiffs, because in such situations, sued journalists constantly have a lawsuit over their head and work under this burden. Zovko emphasized that there are many respectable judges in our judiciary system, but that there are also quite a few who have a large number of lawsuits against journalists.
CJA’a general secretary, Melisa Skender, added that CJA will investigate and submit data on the scale of judges’ monetary compensation requests to journalists and the media.
- We will examine the extent of their hardship in Croatian kuna and how this can be measured. The compensation claims of HRK 40,000, as requested by judge Klarić Baranović, is eight times the amount of Davorka's salary, so it is of course questionable how will she provide payment for that. Therefore, we will call on all members of the CJA to show solidarity and donate funds for compensation and court fees to Davorka Blažević's account. The account will also be published on social networks, so everyone who wants to can participate in the fund-raising campaign. The CJA informed the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), as well as the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) on this unprecedented case - said Skender, adding that the CJA once again wants to warn against the unacceptable practice of judges being frequent plaintiffs in proceedings against journalists and the media, who are often awarded high compensation claims that threaten the very existence of our colleagues.
CJA’s Vice President Goran Gazdek highlighted the problem of journalists in smaller, local areas, where journalists meet with their prosecutors almost every day and are under constant pressure.
- It is much more difficult for us, than for those living and working in larger communities, where journalists are more protected in large media houses. This prosecution is targeted, and it is pure corruption. They want to silence us and destroy us. It is more difficult for us to find collaborators because we are stigmatized, and no one wants to engage in conflicts with local powerful people. But we must persevere, seek and write the truth and be brave - said Gazdek.
We remind you that CJA’s has been recording a significant rise in SLAPP lawsuits for years, and for this purpose it founded the Centre for the Protection of Freedom of Expression, which gathers the best lawyers specializing in media law, who represent all members of CJA faced with SLAPP lawsuits pro bono.
Davorka Blažević’s account number, to which payments can be made in order to help her settle the compensation assigned by the verdict, is: HR3523900013199019277.
Author: Ivica Buljan