Slovakia dropped from seventh place last year to 44th place this year in an international ranking of press freedom compiled annually by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
The results were announced by International Press Institute (IPI) representative Pavol Múdry on Tuesday, October 20. The criteria used to compile the list include, among others, the number of attacks against journalists, and censorship. In this year's report RSF strongly criticised the fact that Slovakia, through its new Press Code, had introduced the "dangerous concept of an automatic right of response in the media".
Múdry said that the concept is problematic mainly because there are no specific regulations setting out how the measure should be applied. "I have nothing against the right of response, but exact criteria must be set, and there are no criteria whatsoever," said Múdry. He said that Slovakia’s fall in the rankings was not due only to the Press Code. He also referred to verbal attacks on journalists by political leaders and excessive penalties imposed by the courts on the media. As an example, he compared financial compensation for physical abuse or death to how much Slovak politicians typically seek in defamation actions. He also noted that high penalties result in self-censorship. RSF listed 175 countries, with Eritrea coming last and Denmark first. TASR
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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