One day after receiving an award for defending human rights from Croatia’s president Ivo Josipovic and one month after receiving the Dr. Erhard Busek – SEEMO 2011 Award for Better Understanding in South East Europe, Croatian journalist and author Drago Hedl has received death threats. On 8 December 2011, the Commission of the Croatian Bishops’ Conference “Justitia et Pax” asked President Josipovic to withdraw the award because they were not satisfied with Hedl’s reporting. They cited an article published 30 years ago. This announcement was followed by death threats against Hedl.
Due to his balanced reporting and investigations into war crimes committed during the 1990s, Hedl has been targeted by law suits and was criticized by Croatian nationalist politicians. He received numerous death threats. SEEMO has reacted on several occasions when Hedl was threatened; the latest protest dates back to July 2011, when death threats allegedly came from the top military officials.
“I call on Croatia’s authorities to investigate the latest death threats against Hedl and pressure against his family. In a country that is about to join the European Union, death threats against journalists are not acceptable and a free media environment has to be guaranteed,” said Oliver Vujovic, Secretary General of the Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO).