Legal reforms in 2002 noticeably improved press freedom, with amendment of the libel law, one of the last obstacles to the free flow of information.

The constitutional court suspended articles 102 and 103 of the criminal code, concerning defamation of the country, government, parliament, the court itself and the president, on 10 January 2002. The Bratislava regional prosecutor then dropped proceedings against journalist Ales Kratky, of the daily Novy Cas, who had been charged in June 2001 for libelling President Rudolf Schuster in a very critical article. Kratsky, who will be tried by a civil court, no longer risks a prison sentence.

A journalist attacked

Former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar hit and threatened Luboslav Choluj, of the TV station Joj, after the journalist asked him where he got the money to renovate his villa in Trecianske Teplice. The incident happened at the state radio station when Meciar, who was campaigning for parliamentary elections, had gone to take part in a programme about ethics and culture in politics.

Pressure and obstruction

In early December, Vanda Vavrova, a journalist on the daily paper Pravda, was threatened with prosecution for libel by the pro-opposition Union of Independent Justice after writing articles about corruption in the judiciary. If she is successfully sued, she could be jailed for five years and banned from working as a journalist. On 5 December, President Rudolf Schuster said he would look at the case if the prosecutor decide to prosecute. No decision had been made by the end of the year.


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