Nine journalism organisations signed and sent an open letter to Slovakia's president elect Zuzana Čaputová, expressing their concerns about press freedom in the country.
At the same time, they congratulated her on winning the presidential election and demonstrated support for her fight against corruption.
“Your victory marks the strong demand of the Slovak people for change, for true democracy under the rule of law,” press organisations wrote in the open letter for Čaputová.
They ask her to veto the draft amendments to the Press Code, which were introduced a year after the murder of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak.
Press media organisations signed under the letter
- Article 19
- Articolo 21 (Italy)
- Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
- European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
- European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
- International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
- Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT)
- Ossigeno per l’Informazione (Italy)
- South East Europe Media Organisation
The organisations are also concerned about Smer chair Robert Fico's recent verbal attacks against journalists. It is not the first time Fico has insulted the media. His statements contributes to a “toxic atmosphere for journalists among the public”, as quoted in the letter.
In addition, press and media freedom is threatened by an attempt to pass the amendments to the 2008 Press Code in the parliament. The organisations are, in particular, critical of the proposal that makes the media publish politicians' replies to stories about them.
“It bears the high risk of massive political interference, which would lead to increased self-censorship in the media in Slovakia,” the nine press organisations wrote in the letter.
Thus, they have urged Čaputová not to sign but veto the changes to the Press Code and contribute to the safety of journalists in Slovakia. The Slovak Press Publishers' Association and 400 journalists in Slovakia have already protested the proposed amendments.
The nine organisations have also embraced the resolution, which the European Parliament adopted at the end of March. The EP welcomed the progress made in the investigations of the murders of journalists in Slovakia and Malta.
Yet the EP has gone on to slam the governments in EU members states for restricting the rule of law.
Regarding Slovakia, the resolution expresses concerns about the “allegations of corruption, conflicts of interest, impunity and revolving doors in Slovakia's circles of power”, as quoted in the EP's press release.
3. Apr 2019 at 13:52 | Compiled by Spectator staff