2016. 11. 02. | News
Saša Leković, president of the Croatian Journalists’ Association (HND), noticed that his car was damaged while driving on 27 October 2016. The auto mechanic told Leković that “two screws on the front right wheel were damaged with a saw”. Had he not slowed down and stopped the car, the screws would have broken, states HND on its website. In their response HND’s executive board characterised the incident as an assassination attempt.
Saša Leković has been exposed to constant verbal attacks and threats (including death threats by various online media users featured in user comments) since he assumed the position of the HND president a year and a half ago. Recently both the association (HND) and Leković received threatening letters.
HND also stated its deep concern with the fact that not a single case of threats to journalists has been solved in Croatia. This pressure against Mr Leković is part of a much wider pattern in Croatia in recent years, with many independent journalists facing verbal abuse (including from government officials), threats, insults and physical violence. While many such incidents have been reported to police, few were investigated, while those that did trigger investigations didn’t lead to successful prosecutions. Government ministers and members of parliament have largely remained silent, despite frequent warnings in recent years from Croatian and international human rights watchdogs and intergovernmental organisations over the deteriorating conditions for journalists and freedom of expression in general in the country.
The South East European Network for Professionalization of Media (SEENPM) (a network of 18 media development organisations from twelve countries of Central and South East Europe, including the Center for Independent Journalism Budapest) urges the authorities of the Republic of Croatia to investigate with the utmost diligence the incident. SEENPM calls on the newly formed government of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković to conduct a robust and transparent investigation and to urgently start adopting policies and specific measures to protect and promote freedom of expression in Croatia, policies aimed at ensuring an enabling environment for independent and critical voices in particular. According to SEENPM’s statement, a failure to do so would signal Croatian authorities’ continued indifference toward freedom of expression and other human rights violations in the country.