The Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) on Monday dismissed a statement from the Police Union (SPS) released last week in which the police union had criticised media reporting on the treatment of migrants. The journalists' association replied by saying that the SPS had shown a complete lack of understanding of how journalism works.
The HND accused SPS of directly interfering with the right of the media to do their job freely, and of exerting pressure on the freedom of the media – which they said is one of the pillars of a democratic society.
The SPS had released a statement on Sunday dismissing media reports on the inhumane treatment of migrants by the police, and commending the police for their performance in guarding the state border.
HND added that in its statement the SPS had made it clear that they expected the media to report on the issue of police handling of migrants affirmatively, by accusing journalists of dishonourably reporting on cases of police brutality against refugees.
“The image of ‘nice’ Croatian police officers vanished the moment police officers started to beat, steal from, and shoot at refugees, according to victims’ testimonies. The police provide very scant information on such cases, while journalists regularly report their side of the story,” the HND said in the statement signed by its president Hrvoje Zovko.
The HND called on the SPS to avoid generalisations and specify cases in which reporters had violated their professional standards, to release the number of cases in which police officers had overstepped their powers in treating incoming refugees, and to say what disciplinary measures had been taken against transgressors. They also called on reporters to follow their professional code of ethics in reporting on migrants.