Slovakia slightly improved its press freedom ranking

Reporters Without Borders points out that two sentences have been delivered in the Kuciak murder case.

Miroslav Marček is escorted to the courtroom.Miroslav Marček is escorted to the courtroom. (Source: SME)

"A number of politicians often attack journalists verbally, using anti-media rhetoric that is reproduced in certain media and, above all, on websites specialising in disinformation," the Reporter Without Borders international non-governmental media freedom watchdog wrote about Slovakia in their annual ranking of countries based on media freedom.

They specifically name Smer leader and former PM Robert Fico and former European affairs parliamentary committee head and MP for Smer, Luboš Blaha, whom the parliament repeatedly rejected in the vote for the human rights committee head.

It is the first time in four years that Slovakia's ranking has not declined. While in 2019, the country ranked 35th in the World Press Freedom Index, in the 2020 ranking it ended 33rd. This index evaluates the situation surrounding journalism every year in 180 countries and territories.

Related articleHow the Kuciak case changed Slovakia (overview) Read more 

Until 2016, Slovakia's ranking had been steadily improving. In 2016, the country placed 12th in the ranking. That was the year that the third government of Robert Fico took over, and its term was marked by the murder of journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová in February 2018. From 2016 to 2019, the ranking gradually decreased every year by several positions.

In its 2020 country report for Slovakia, Reporters Without Borders highlight the fact that the Kuciak murder trial started in January 2020 and two of the defendants have already been sentenced since then.

"The investigation revealed a close link between Marian Kočner, the controversial businessman accused of masterminding Kuciak’s murder, and key political and judicial figures, including judges and the former prosecutor-general," the country report reads. They also emphasise that Kočner had journalists under surveillance.

Related articleMarkíza is the last drop. Financiers have divided the media market among themselves Read more 

Reporters Without Borders also pointed out the purchase of TV Markíza by an investment group controlled by Petr Kellner, one of the wealthiest Czech entrepreneurs, and the concerns about the independence of the public-service broadcaster under its new management.

The Index shows that press freedom will be adversely affected by five major crises during the next ten years, Reporters Without Borders wrote: a geopolitical crisis due to the aggressiveness of authoritarian regimes, a technological crisis due to a lack of appropriate regulation, a democratic crisis with democratically elected leaders encouraging anti-media smears and the hatred of journalists, a crisis of trust due to the growing suspicion of the news media and an economic crisis impoverishing quality journalism.

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