Since the beginning of the world pandemic, media freedom has declined sharply, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in its annual report today. According to him, although the government continues to intervene in public media services, Croatia has improved three places.
The New World Media Freedom Index assessed the media conditions in 180 countries and concluded that 73% of them have serious problems with media freedom.
The report states that many countries have used the coronavirus pandemic “as a basis for preventing journalists from accessing information, sources and reports on the ground.”
This year, Croatia climbed to 56th place, which is the best ranking since 2013. Last year it was 59th. Despite its progress, Croatia still ranks with Madagascar, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Niger. Only Poland, Greece and Hungary are worse than EU countries.
According to the report, Croatian journalists investigating corruption, organized crime or war crimes are often affected by harassment activities.
Defamation is criminalized and insulting “the Republic, its national emblem, national anthem or flag” is punishable by up to three years in prison. Since 2013, “insulting” media content has been criminalized.
However, in the 2020 defamation trial, some courts ruled that the journalist won the case. However, the government continued to intervene in HRT’s public media services, and HRT’s management continued to prosecute employees who complained about the issue, and even filed complaints. RSF wrote in its annual report that this is a lawsuit against the Croatian Journalists Association.
At the same time, physical attacks and threats and cyber violence are still the main problems faced by journalists, but the authorities have not responded.
The coronavirus pandemic has aggravated the financial crisis in the media, many of which have cut wages and stopped hiring freelancers.
The journalists union called on the government to intervene and help freelancers, and took some economic measures in the summer of 2020, but not all media have benefited from it.
According to media groups, world media freedom in Asia, the Middle East and Europe has plummeted.
The pandemic has intensified the crackdown worldwide, RSF warned, noting that countries such as China, Venezuela, Serbia and Kosovo have arrested media workers to monitor the outbreak of the epidemic.
Currently, there are more than 100 media workers in Chinese prisons, more than any other country.
In terms of media freedom, only 12 countries were rated as “good”, which is the lowest number since the start of the evaluation.
The Scandinavian countries Norway, Finland, Sweden and Denmark top the list.