A European media freedom delegation led by the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) visited Croatia to investigate the state of its media landscape. They met with Slavica Lukić, who was one of the first to be accused of this unusual crime of “shaming” or “humiliation” after its introduction in 2013. She explained how the legal case has damaged her career:
Two years ago in April 2014 I was sentenced by a criminal court. It is important to know that journalists in Croatia can be accused by a criminal law and by a civil law. It means that we have double responsibility for our texts. It is also interesting that media owners can be sentenced just by a civil law. Our risk as journalists is much deeper than theirs.“
When truth becomes a crime
As an investigative journalist working for the national daily newspaper Jutarnji List, Lukić had discovered that the Medikol private clinic was in financial difficulties and facing possible bankruptcy – despite receiving 579 million kunas (77 million euros) of public funding. She had checked the facts and they were not disputed. But: under the “shaming” law the accusers, Medikol, only had to prove that they had been “humiliated” by the revelations.
I was sentenced to a fine of twenty-eight thousand kunas (3,700 euros) because of my text about the Medikol private clinic which was financed by our state. And I decided to publish this sentence because it problematised this criminal law. It is very problematic for journalists and I decided to warn them,”
To sue or not to sue