STA, 18 February 2020 - The Culture Ministry joined on Tuesday the condemnation of different forms of attacks on journalists reporting about alleged funding from circles around Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban of media with ties to the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS).
Echoing last week's reaction by the Journalists' Association (DNS), the ministry wrote that the recent outburst of public stigmatisation and even street assaults on journalists is a worrying indication that pressure is escalating.
Undermining the independence of media and attacks on journalists present a serious challenge for democracy, as nobody can perform their work at the highest possible level if they are not safe.
"Violence, harassment and bullying targeting journalists and often also their families does not only cause fear among them but also mistrust and uncertainty in society at large," the ministry wrote, noting undermined freedom of speech leads to poorly informed voters.
It pointed out that reports on the safety of journalists have been included by the European Commission in the regular monitoring of the state of the rule of law in member states, with rising pressure on journalists also appearing in countries with long democratic traditions.
Verbal attacks and bullying, especially when coming from public figures, are often only one step away from physical forms of violence, the ministry said, pointing to reports of international organisations about this becoming a trend in many countries especially before elections.
The ministry said it would continue to push for comprehensive efforts to secure a safe environment for journalists, including with the currently shelved new media bill that entails greater autonomy and social security for journalist and greater transparency of the operations and financing of media outlets.
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