Last Updated: Friday, 25 July 2014, 12:52 GMT

Parliament passes controversial reform of press law

Publisher Reporters Without Borders
Publication Date 10 April 2008
Cite as Reporters Without Borders, Parliament passes controversial reform of press law, 10 April 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/47ff683c1e.html [accessed 26 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

The Slovakian parliament yesterday adopted a very controversial reform of the press law despite the unanimous condemnation of the national media and the disapproval of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Although some changes were made, the new law still provides for direct culture ministry control over media coverage of a range of subjects considered sensitive, as well as automatic right of response for anyone who, rightly or wrongly, thinks they have been defamed or insulted.

"It is unacceptable for a European Union member state to adopt a law so much at variance with democratic standards, especially as regards press freedom," Reporters Without Borders said. "A law that limits the editorial freedom of the news media by subjecting them to official criteria arbitrarily imposed by the government is completely unacceptable and must be withdrawn."

The press freedom organisation added : "We call on the European authorities to insist that the Slovakian government withdraw this law and initiate a debate aimed at finding a solution that complies with European standards."

Prime Minister Robert Fico's government had a big enough majority to get the press law passed, but it needs the opposition's votes to ratify the European Union's new Lisbon treaty. The opposition pledged several weeks ago to block ratification if the government pushed the press law through.

In a protest against the proposed law, Slovakia's six leading daily newspapers brought out issues on 7 March with nothing on the front page except seven of its articles that have been dubbed the "seven deadly sins."

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