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New restrictions on journalists covering parliament

IT WILL now be more difficult to tape MPs procuring personal items or attending parliamentary sessions while drunk, as a result of new limitations introduced by the Office of the Speaker of Parliament, Pavol Paška, which will become effective in one month. The opposition has criticised the changes, saying they restrict the freedom of journalists.

IT WILL now be more difficult to tape MPs procuring personal items or attending parliamentary sessions while drunk, as a result of new limitations introduced by the Office of the Speaker of Parliament, Pavol Paška, which will become effective in one month. The opposition has criticised the changes, saying they restrict the freedom of journalists.

According to the instructions sent to the media, journalists will be forced out of certain rooms, and will only be allowed to move in the lobby, the room in front of the parliamentary hall, the balcony and a small room for reporters. Moreover, journalists will only be allowed to attend the sessions of parliamentary committees, which are public, with security guards, the Sme daily wrote.

Additionally, reporters will be forbidden from taking pictures of what MPs are doing, and of “their personal belongings”. There will also be a limit on the number of journalists from each editorial staff who are allowed to go into parliament. For example, no more than three journalists from a daily newspaper will be permitted. If journalists break the new rules, they will lose their accreditation for parliament.

These are the biggest limits placed on the media since the fall of communism, Sme wrote. According to the daily, Smer MPs began discussing the new rules after the media caught Andrej Kolesík giving his Smer colleagues pieces of paper with the name of the candidate for whom they were to vote for the board of the Nation’s Memory Institute in July 2013.

Several opposition MPs have already spoken out against the changes. Most-Híd party chair Béla Bugár was surprised by the new rules, calling them inappropriate, Sme wrote. Igor Matovič, leader of the Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO), added that the limitations are a “rough attack on freedom of the press from the ruling party”, while representatives of the NOVA party sent an open letter to Paška in which they asked him to abolish his decision and bring back the previous rules, which are valid in developed democratic countries, as reported by the TASR newswire.

Source: Sme, TASR

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports

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