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IN SHORT

Politicians keep the clamp on press

POLITICIANS decided to retain a clause in the Slovak Penal Code that could be used to send journalists to jail for five years.

The clause, which was included in the Penal Code in May 2005 on the basis of a proposal by the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union MP Roman Vavrík, states that a breach of verbal confidentiality may be punished.

Journalists insisted that this clause would cripple investigative journalism, effectively making secret recordings illegal.

Justice Minister Daniel Lipšic proposed that the clause be omitted from the Penal Code but on October 26 MPs rejected the proposal.

The minister said that the clause prevents investigative journalism and could easily be misused. As an example of misuse he cited the case of a woman who recently secretly filmed her dentist demanding sex for fixing her teeth. Lipšic said that under the clause the woman could be punished.

According to the SME daily, Zuzana Krútka, the head of the Slovak Syndicate of Journalists, is appalled and wonders why the politicians have decided to retain the clause.

Krútka does not think that journalists should publish all recordings that they make in secret but insists that investigative journalism is necessary for society and sometimes such recordings are necessary.

"The role of investigative journalism is to help citizens and we cannot do that without these practices [secret recordings]," she told the daily.

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