Crime of hoax spreading would interfere with freedom of speech, experts opined

Expert noted that current legislation is sufficient.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: Unsplash)

Disinformation and hoaxes made the pandemic worse in Slovakia, observers agree, yet many doubt the recent proposal to amend the Penal Code and make the spread of false information a crime.

Justice Minister Mária Kolíková (SaS) proposed in her draft law, presented in early December as part of a larger Penal Code amendment, that people spreading false information may face a prison sentence.

SkryťRemove ad
Article continues after video advertisement
SkryťRemove ad
Article continues after video advertisement

“Are we really going to prosecute people for being stupid? That is a dangerous thing, in my opinion, because freedom of speech is a very sensitive [issue],” Za Ľudí MP Juraj Šeliga reacted on Markíza television.

He was not the only one to criticise Kolíková, his former party colleague, after she came up with the idea of criminalising the spread of hoaxes. A number of lawyers doubt the possible effectiveness of the proposed law, pointing to the delicate line between freedom of speech and punishing false claims. They also worry that the law as it was proposed could be easily misused.

What the law should entail

Creating and spreading false information that may “cause serious harm to at least part of the population”, threaten lives, or influence people's decisions on serious issues, may be punished with one to five years in prison, according to the proposal.

If the perpetrator has a personal motive, like property benefit, the punishment is three to eight years in prison. If the crime is committed while a national emergency applies in the country, the punishment may be as high as four to 10 years in prison.

The rest of this article is premium content at Spectator.sk
Subscribe now for full access

I already have subscription - Sign in

Subscription provides you with:
  • Immediate access to all locked articles (premium content) on Spectator.sk
  • Special weekly news summary + an audio recording with a weekly news summary to listen to at your convenience (received on a weekly basis directly to your e-mail)
  • PDF version of the latest issue of our newspaper, The Slovak Spectator, emailed directly to you
  • Access to all premium content on Sme.sk and Korzar.sk

Top stories

Karl von Habsburg, the head of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine

Maria Theresa finally recognised in Bratislava public space

Descendant Karl von Habsburg at official opening of Maria Theresa Parkway.


23. sep
The Moderna vaccine

Covid booster doses opened up to under 50s

Registration for Omicron-adjusted jabs has started.


21. sep

Košice to ban smoking during lunch, councillor calls it fascist

Municipal councillor calls the restriction discriminating.


20. sep
The cemetery of of the Russian Tsarist Army soldiers in 2018.

Russian graves destroyed? Police say embassy is lying

Mayor of east Slovak village threatened with death.


19. sep
SkryťClose ad