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Restrictions on journalists in parliament begin April 15

The new rules concerning the work of journalists in parliament will enter into force April 15. The rules should have originally been in place as of mid-February, but the process has been delayed due to preparations of a new press room, Soňa Pötheová from the Office of Speaker of Parliament Pavol Paška told the TASR newswire on April 8. According to the new rules, journalists will be allowed to move around only in specified places in parliament, and they won’t be allowed to take pictures of personal items of MPs in the parliament. Violation of the rules may result in their accreditation being taken away and a ban from entering parliament. Also, they won’t be allowed to enter sessions of parliamentary committees without the company of authorised parliamentary staff. The number of journalists with accreditation in parliament will also be restricted. Prime Minister Robert Fico has defended Paška’s initiative by stating that there are 280 journalists accredited for parliament, while nothing like that number are actually active. “Not everybody who has a little TV consul and a small camera at home should pretend to be a big journalist and hang around parliament,” Fico said. Meanwhile, the opposition has described the initiative as a communist-like attempt to muzzle journalists in order to prevent the public from having proper access to information from parliament. Parliamentary Chancellor Daniel Guspan stated that the new rules won’t limit journalists, as they still will be allowed to move freely around the building and take pictures without facing sanctions. They won’t be allowed to access the rooms of individual committees freely anymore, however, and will have to be guided by an authorised person instead. At the same time, journalists no longer will be able to access the parliamentary snack bar and they will have to buy coffee or snacks in machines.

The new rules concerning the work of journalists in parliament will enter into force April 15. The rules should have originally been in place as of mid-February, but the process has been delayed due to preparations of a new press room, Soňa Pötheová from the Office of Speaker of Parliament Pavol Paška told the TASR newswire on April 8.

According to the new rules, journalists will be allowed to move around only in specified places in parliament, and they won’t be allowed to take pictures of personal items of MPs in the parliament. Violation of the rules may result in their accreditation being taken away and a ban from entering parliament. Also, they won’t be allowed to enter sessions of parliamentary committees without the company of authorised parliamentary staff. The number of journalists with accreditation in parliament will also be restricted.

Prime Minister Robert Fico has defended Paška’s initiative by stating that there are 280 journalists accredited for parliament, while nothing like that number are actually active. “Not everybody who has a little TV consul and a small camera at home should pretend to be a big journalist and hang around parliament,” Fico said.

Meanwhile, the opposition has described the initiative as a communist-like attempt to muzzle journalists in order to prevent the public from having proper access to information from parliament. Parliamentary Chancellor Daniel Guspan stated that the new rules won’t limit journalists, as they still will be allowed to move freely around the building and take pictures without facing sanctions. They won’t be allowed to access the rooms of individual committees freely anymore, however, and will have to be guided by an authorised person instead. At the same time, journalists no longer will be able to access the parliamentary snack bar and they will have to buy coffee or snacks in machines.

In the upcoming period, the press department will start distributing new accreditation cards, Soňa Pötheová told the SITA newswire. The accreditations will no longer be issued for individual people, but rather to a limited number of journalists for each editorial staff. Even the accredited journalists will not be allowed to move freely around the building, SITA wrote, but be limited to the press centre, central hall on the ground floor, in front of entrances to the session hall and on the balcony.

Press conferences will no longer take place in the parliamentary hall; they will be organised only in the press centre where speaker desks with amplifiers have been installed.

(Source: TASR, SITA)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.

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