European Parliament Report Expresses Concerns About Janša’s Attacks on Media

By , 10 Mar 2021, 10:00 AM Politics
The European Parliament The European Parliament, public domain

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STA, 9 March 2021 - A European Parliament policy department service compiled an in-depth document on the situation in Slovenia in preparation for Friday's session of the Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group. The document, which is for internal use only, also details Prime Minister Janez Janša's attacks on media.

"The government's relations with the media are very tense, with the prime minister directly attacking media and individual journalists, notably by Twitter," reads the document, prepared by the service of the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.

The 33-page document describes the developments in Slovenia mainly in the past year. With respect to media, it lists a long list of concerns in relation to media freedom and protection of journalists.

It notes attacks and threats, smear campaigns, prosecution of journalists and media, political and business pressures including by blocking public funds, which it says are leading to self-censorship.

The document also includes a table of attacks by the prime minister and other government representatives with hateful language against journalists and media.

"This behaviour is uncommon for leaders of European democratic states based on the rule of law and fundamental rights and respectful of the European values," reads the document.

It adds that persons in important governmental roles and representing a whole community and country are expected to strive to unite them by fostering dialogue and consensus, at all levels.

Direct and personal attacks by those in power, including by inciting others to do the same, as well as blocking or threatening to block funds for media, can be interpreted an abuse of a position of power aimed at intimidating and silencing them by exerting a chilling effect based on fear, it says.

The document also notes political influencing through media owners and the financing of Slovenian media by Hungarian companies affiliated with the ruling Fidesz party and Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

It says that Nova24TV was initially financed by members and supporters of the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) but was later recapitalised by Hungarian companies, noting that Nova24TV generated a loss of over EUR 1 million in its first two years of activity, which suggested Hungarian media businessmen enabled the continued existence of the channel.

The document also writes about government officials' attacks on representatives of the judiciary and notes replacements in senior positions in the country's police, armed forces, statistics office and intelligence agency. "It was the first time that such dismissals happened without stating a cause," it reads.

The document furthermore notes pressure faced by NGOs, replacements in the leaderships of museums and procedures against government members, as well as anti-government protests and the fines faced by the protesters.

The European Parliament will discuss threats to media freedom in Hungary, Poland and Slovenia on Wednesday.

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