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clumsy journalist, politics

Croatia to introduce prison sentences for libel


The new Croatian Penal Code might introduce prison sentences for journalists who deliberately spread lies, and fines for ‘gossip’ even if it is true. The mere fact that our Penal Code will have a section called Crimes Against Honor and Reputation reminds me of countries like Iran. I wonder if law professors who support it have had some terribly distressing experiences with journalists. And if by their law I’m still allowed to wonder about such things aloud.

This is a rough translation of the current bill, published on the pages of the Ministry of Justice.

Crimes against honor and reputation

Insult

Article 1

(1) The person who has insulted another will be fined by up to 90 daily wages.

(2) The person who commits the act from Paragraph 1 by the means of print, radio, television, computer system or network, at a public gathering or in another way that makes the insult accessible to a larger number of people, will be fined by up to 180 daily wages.

(3) If the insulted person reciprocates an insult, the court can remove the punishment for both offenders.

(4) If the offender was induced by the injured person’s misconduct, or the injured person accepts an apology for the perpetrated act in front of the court, the court can remove the punishment.

(5) There is no criminal act of insult if from the wording and other circumstances it can be deduced that the slight had been perpetrated for the protection of other justified interests.

Defamation

Article 2

(1) The person who in front of another reveals a factual claim about someone which could harm his or her honor or reputation, will be fined by up to 90 daily wages.

(2) The person who commits the act from Paragraph 1 by the means of print, radio, television, computer system or network, at a public gathering or in another way that makes the insult accessible to a larger number of people, will be fined by up to 180 daily wages.

(3) The court will not punish for defamation the accused who proves the veracity of the factual claims that he/she had made or proves the existence of a serious reason why he/she has, in good faith, believed in their truthfulness.

(4) The defense from Paragraph 3 is not allowed to the accused who have not made the factual claims in the public interest or for other reasonable grounds, but acted mostly with a goal of harming the honor or reputation of another, especially if the claims refer to private or family life.

(5) If the perpetrator admits unveracity of his/her claims and repeals them, the court can remove the punishment.

Libel

Article 3

(1) The person who in front of another, knowing that it is false, reveals a factual claim about someone which could harm his/her honor or reputation, will be fined by up to 180 daily wages or up to six months in prison.

(2) The person who commits the act from Paragraph 1 by the means of print, radio, television, computer system or network, at a public gathering or in another way that makes the insult accessible to a larger number of people, will be fined or punished by a prison sentence of up to one year.

Initiating the penal procedure for criminal acts against honor and reputation

Article 4

(1) The penal procedure for criminal acts against honor and reputation is initiated by a private suit.

(2) If the criminal acts against honor and reputation are committed against a deceased person, the penal procedure can be initiated by a private suit by a spouse or a civil partner, a parent, children, adopted parents, adopted children, a brother or a sisters of the deceased.

Public publication of the court ruling for the criminal acts against honor and reputation

Article 5

(1) The court ruling that declares the perpetrator guilty of a criminal act against honor and reputation committed by the means of print, radio, television, computer system or network, or other means of mass communication will be published in full or partially at the request of the injured person, and at the expense of the perpetrator.

(2) In its ruling the court will determine how the ruling should be published, and whenever possible this will be in the same medium in which the criminal act had been perpetrated.

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