Slovak Members of Parliament continued to debate the proposed new Press Code during their session on April 8, the SITA newswire reported. The author of the bill, Culture Minister Marek Maďarič of SMER-SD, warned that if the bill didn’t contain the right to reply, this would amount to a muzzling effect. He dismissed criticism by the chairman of the opposition SDKÚ-DS party, Mikuláš Dzurinda, who again asked the culture minister to explain why there should be such a right. Dzurinda disagrees with the proposal that the right to reply should be granted even if the information printed is correct. Maďarič reiterated that the right to reply would be mainly for ordinary people, and that even those who didn’t use it would welcome the fact that newspapers would be obliged to present them with the opinions of people who responses were published.
Dzurinda says that politicians should be exempt from the right to reply, since journalists normally provide this opportunity to people named in their stories. He supports the amendment proposed by opposition KDH MP Daniel Lipšic, who suggests exempting public officials, state bodies or persons charged with crimes from the right to reply. Dzurinda thinks that if it granted Lipšic's amendment, the governing coalition would prove that it is not pushing for the right to reply for the sake of politicians but of citizens. Dzurinda said that he could not recall ever being denied the opportunity by journalists to respond to a story they had written about him. He reiterated that the draft press bill violated democratic principles, restricted freedom of the press and interfered in the rights of citizens, which is why his party would not vote for it.
ĽS-HZDS MP Jozef Halecký said he thinks that the amending proposal by Lipšic contradicts the constitution. In his opinion, it is inappropriate to define in the bill a group of people who would not be able to exercise the right to reply. SITA
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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