The Croatian NGO Green Squad (Zeleni Odred) has reported on how the Croatian state forestry company, Hrvatske šume (Croatian Forests Ltd) has destroyed pristine forests in Croatia. In response, the state company has filed three Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (“SLAPP suits”) alleging  Ms. Vesna Grgić, Coordinator of Green Squad, committed a criminal offense against the “honour and reputation” of the company. In a joint letter forest activists are calling on the Croatian government to drop the three lawsuits.   

 The letter states “We are convinced that these legal proceedings against Ms. Grgić constitute Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP), solely aimed at silencing defenders of the common good, i.e., human rights advocates and environmental preservationists.”  The letter further urges that Croatia initiate legal reforms to prevent future filings of criminal complaints against individuals and organizations working for the public good.  

The charges relate to a social media post and YouTube recording in which Vesna criticized intensive and well-documented destructive logging by the Republic of Croatia, including in Natura 2000 sites, as well as serious irregularities on the part of the state-operated Hrvatske šume. These irregularities were confirmed and documented by Members of the European Parliament and the co-chair of the European Green Party, Thomas Waitz, who personally filed a complaint to the European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries. Hrvatske šume has claimed that the information was “fabricated” despite evidence to the contrary, and Vesne, if convicted, could face up to $100,000 in fines.

To learn more about Green Squad’s efforts to protect Croatian forests please visit their website.

Click here to view a powerful short video by the Croatian NGO Green Squad on the bioenergy industry in Croatia.

To read more from MEP Mr. Waitz supporting Green Squad, please see here.

Calling forest and climate NGOs: Tell the Croatian government to stop bullying forest activists
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