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Haraszti: Culture minister's arguments didn't convince me

After meeting Slovak Culture Minister Marek Maďarič in Bratislava on February 7, Representative of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) for freedom of the press, Miklos Haraszti, said that Maďarič's arguments didn't change his mind on the draft Press Act. He said this at a joint press conference with the ministry's state secretary, Ivan Sečík. Haraszti mainly criticised the rights of the culture ministry to judge whether the contents of newspapers was in accordance with moral values, such as spreading hatred, not promoting drugs and so on.

After meeting Slovak Culture Minister Marek Maďarič in Bratislava on February 7, Representative of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) for freedom of the press, Miklos Haraszti, said that Maďarič's arguments didn't change his mind on the draft Press Act. He said this at a joint press conference with the ministry's state secretary, Ivan Sečík. Haraszti mainly criticised the rights of the culture ministry to judge whether the contents of newspapers was in accordance with moral values, such as spreading hatred, not promoting drugs and so on.

"The law in this part looks like the Guinness Book of Records, as it stipulates as many as 18 forms of hatred," said Haraszti who thinks that such issues are to be solved by criminal legislation and not by a minister. Haraszti acknowledged that these stipulations were not part of the revisions and similar provisions had been in the Act since 2000, but that didn't mean that they should be maintained. Sečík claimed that the Press Act contained an analogous application to the Act on Broadcasting and Retransmission.

Haraszti also criticized what he said were 'broadly framed tools' used for correction, reply, and additional notification. In keeping with the proposed Slovak law, one may ask for their reply to be published even if the story was accurate. He thinks both remedial tools - correction and reply - should be merged in the legislation. According to Sečík, it is possible that shifts were created during the second and third reading of the bill in terms of technical formulations of these enactments.

Haraszti praised some aspects of the law, nonetheless, he regards the bill as too restrictive. He also says there is too great an emphasis on safeguarding the sensitivities of public officials to adversely comment on the media. Sečík pointed out that currently the right for correction was not applied practically in Slovakia, and the ministry wanted to create a rather quick mechanism for securing a correction if false information was published. TASR

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports

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