STA, 1 April 2020 - Three teams of journalists of the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija have been assaulted in recent days; in two cases they were harassed verbally, and in another the company's vehicle was damaged. The incidents have drawn condemnation by Slovenia's top officials and Journalists' Association (DNS).
RTV Slovenija reported of a verbal assault and damage to the company vehicle in the Odmevi late night show on Tuesday evening, noting the attack had been reported to police.
According to the broadcaster, police unofficially stated that an increase in violence in society had been detected in these challenging times. The broadcaster stressed that any form of violence was unacceptable and called for tolerance.
The same call was made in the Odmevi show by Human Rights Ombudsman Peter Svetina.
The DNS said today that in the first case journalists had been verbally assaulted by the head of the Velenje municipal administration, Iztok Mori, a few days ago, in the second incident that happened on Tuesday, an unknown perpetrator in Ljubljana first threatened a team of journalists and then cut the tyres on the vehicle of the camera crew, while the third assault happened this morning.
In the incident, a team of journalists from the Dobro jutro (Good morning) show from the Maribor regional centre was harassed while making an interview in a street in Maribor.
RTV Slovenija reported the two most recent cases to police, the DNS noted, condemning both assaults.
Any assault on journalists, who are conducting their work in line with professional and ethical standards, is completely unacceptable, especially in times of crisis, when reporting is crucial to keep the public informed, the association said.
"As a society we may not accept a situation in which verbal and also physical assaults become occupational risk that journalists are exposed to while on the job."
The association has prepared a set of instructions for journalists who are targets of threats or attacks or on-line harassment. It has also called on all journalists to report all threats to police and urged their employers to provide journalists with the necessary support.
The attacks were condemned by senior officials and parties, including Prime Minister Janez Janša, who tweeted: "We condemn any form of street violence targeting journalists or anyone else, as well as any instigating of such acts".
The assaults were also denounced by the opposition Social Democrats (SD) and the junior coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC).
On his Twitter profile, Public Administration Minister Boštjan Koritnik, an SMC member, described intimidation of journalists and their work as an unacceptable and abject act. "During the Covid-19 epidemic journalists are risking their own health to keep the public accurately informed about the developments, for which I'm truly grateful to them."
The SMC added that at this time in particular the need was for powerful, loud and autonomous media that make sure that the public is informed on the developments.
The SD condemned violence by anyone against anyone in the strongest term on its Twitter account, adding that there was no democracy without free and independent media, and urging the government to establish conditions immediately allowing journalists free and safe work.
"I condemn the intimidation that journalists are subject to in the strongest terms! At a time when those in power want to curb democratic standards in the country through various legal acts, media independence and confidence are the more important," SD leader Dejan Židan tweeted, adding that the party would do everything to protect democracy.