U.S. State Department comments on amnesties

The March 3 decision of the Slovak Government to grant amnesty to any persons who may have planned or participated in the kidnapping of Michal Kováč Jr. and any persons who may have violated the constitution in preparing the ballots for the May 1997 Referendum on direct election of the president and entry into NATO is a further serious setback to the rule of law and constitutional government.

The March 3 decision of the Slovak Government to grant amnesty to any persons who may have planned or participated in the kidnapping of Michal Kováč Jr. and any persons who may have violated the constitution in preparing the ballots for the May 1997 Referendum on direct election of the president and entry into NATO is a further serious setback to the rule of law and constitutional government.

In the case of the Kováč kidnapping, the Slovak Government's action effectively precludes the resolution of a serious political crime. The amnesty for persons involved in the preparation of the referendum means that no one will be held accountable for actions which not only deprived Slovak citizens of their legal right to express their opinion but also directly violated a ruling of the Constitutional Court.

These actions are not consistent with the behaviour of a Government that respects the rule of law. They invite further abuses of the law and the constitution by those who claim to be serving the national interest.

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