Reporters Without Borders Annual Report 2002 - Slovakia
|Publisher||Reporters Without Borders|
|Publication Date||3 May 2002|
|Cite as||Reporters Without Borders, Reporters Without Borders Annual Report 2002 - Slovakia, 3 May 2002, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/487c525928.html [accessed 29 January 2015]|
Generally speaking, the Slovak press enjoys a pluralistic and democratic environment. In 2001 the libel law represents one of the last obstacles to free information.
Criticism by the press of political and administrative authorities can still be repressed by the existing libel laws. The legal proceedings lodged against a journalist in June 2001 by the chancellery of the President of the Republic, Rudolf Schuster, sparked a debate in parliament and signalled the start of a process for revising the articles of the law in question. On 8 November parliament rejected the draft revision of the articles by a majority of one. As a candidate for entry into the European Union, Slovakia ratified the European Convention of Human Rights at the end of the year.
Pressure and obstruction
In June 2001 Ales Kratky, journalist for the daily, Novy Cas, was sued for "public libel against the President in the exercise of his duties and activities", an infraction punishable by more than two months in prison as set out in provision 103 of the penal code. In an article published 26 May, Kratky wrote that President Rudolf Schuster showed "signs of mental incompetence to run a country trying to become a modern and developed nation" and demonstrated an "arrogant and selfish state of mind". On 26 June the President's spokesman said that the action against Ales Kratky "would serve as a warning for other" journalists. Placed on forced paid leave by Novy Cas's editorial board, the journalist was banned from writing for a month. Between June and November the process undertaken in parliament with a view to abolishing the libel law raised the hope that the legal proceedings would be dropped. But those hopes were dashed when parliament narrowly rejected the new law. Upon learning of the vote's outcome, Ales Kratky said, "Unfortunately in the Slovak parliament, as in the office of the Republic's President, there are people who need holdover laws from the communist period to give them more rights than other Slovak citizens."