The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and the Croatian Journalists Association (HND) on Tuesday condemned threats to dismiss two journalists of the HRT public broadcaster, saying this constituted pressure by the HRT management on journalists who criticise its "unprofessional behaviour."
HRT acting general manager Siniša Kovačić has initiated the dismissal of journalist Sanja Mikleusevic Pavic, president of the HRT's HND branch, and of Mirna Zidaric, president of the HRT Ethical Council.
“We are afraid that the threat to dismiss Sanja Mikleusevic Pavic, a strong and responsible leader of the (HND) Branch at the Croatian public service broadcaster HRT, will put pressure on the (HND) and all critical journalists working for HRT,” said EFJ President Mogens Blicher Bjerregard.
On September 23, the HRT Ethical Council agreed that Mikleusevic Pavic is not guilty of any ”verbal offence” that was critical of the management of HRT, the EFJ said in a statement, adding, "Thus, the dismissal is unjustified."
The HND has criticised the unprofessional behaviour of the acting HRT management, which had been confirmed by the joint International mission to Croatia in June , to which the EFJ participated, the EFJ said.
The HRT dismissed the claims about the dismissals of the two journalists as "unfounded and incorrect".
The EFJ said it was also worried about Kovacic's decision to change the HRT Ethical Code by the end of September so that he could replace the Ethical Council's current members.
“Political intimidation and control shall have no place in any independent media regulatory body or Ethical Council in Europe,” added Blicher Bjerregard.
The HRT said the Ethical Code would be changed as part of regular procedure and that the HRT management believed that the changes would eliminate from the code the shortcomings which had been pointed out by the Ethical Council.