Status: Free
Legal Environment: 8
Political Influences: 7
Economic Pressures: 6
Total Score: 21

Population: n/a
GNI/capita: n/a
Life Expectancy: 74
Religious Groups: Roman Catholic (60.3 percent), Protestant (8.4 percent), other (11.6 percent)
Ethnic Groups: Slovak (86 percent), Hungarian (11 percent), Roma [Gypsy] (2 percent), other [including Czech](31.3 percent)
Capital: Bratislava

Media freedom is protected by the constitution, and numerous newspapers and magazines publish a wide range of political opinions and news articles. In September 2003, President Rudolph Shuster announced the decriminalization of defamation. Still, past defamation cases are proceeding, and a court ruled in October that the Domino Forum weekly was guilty of defaming former secret service director Ivan Lexa, who is suspected of involvement in kidnapping, murder, and other abuses while in power. The paper must pay him 1 million crowns ($28,500 US) for naming him the nation's "best known crook." Outside observers have also expressed concern that many television and radio stations are subject to political control because the membership of the councils that oversee them is comprised primarily of party and government officials. However, in December the parliament announced new broadcast regulations, effective in early 2004, that will place each station under the control of a three-member, government-appointed supervisory commission. The measure is aimed to curb corruption and mismanagement. In January, editors of the SME daily newspaper alleged that the government was tapping their phones. Tapes and transcripts of SME journalists' phone conversations were sent to political party officials, members of parliament, and rival media outlets over the course of the year. The newspaper has accused the Slovak Intelligence Service (SIS) of using illegal wiretaps to harass journalists and scuttle investigations into government and criminal misconduct.

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