April 17, 2020

Coronavirus: Two journalists attacked during an Easter mass in Croatia

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Two reporters were physically attacked by worshippers as they covered an Easter Sunday mass held in the coastal city of Split on 12 April in defiance of a government ban on public gatherings because of the coronavirus pandemic. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Croatian police to provide journalists working in public interest with better protection.

When the two reporters, Živana Šušak Živković of the news site Dalmatinski portal, and Ivana Sivro of the TV channel N1, arrived at the church, they were welcome by a rain of blows from those attending the mass as well as by insults including from the priest himself.  One of the reporters had her hand injured, while the other’s camera was hit.


The violence was condemned by the Interior Ministry and an investigation was opened targeting several persons.


The Association of Croatian Journalists said it regretted that the police had not been present on the spot. The mass was announced in advance despite the ban on gatherings. The lack of a police presence undoubtedly encouraged the worshippers to resort to violence, the Association added.


RSF calls on the Croatian authorities to ensure that the police provide effective protection to journalists when they serve the public interest by exposing violations of public health measures.


Croatia is ranked 64th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.