The European parliament has rebuked Slovenia’s government for “attacks, smear campaigns and slander” towards journalists and critics, in a vote that underlines rising alarm concerning the risk to media freedom.
MEPs backed a decision condemning the Slovenian government for a “climate of hostility, distrust and deep polarisation,” and searching for to weaken unbiased prosecutors and intervene with state-funded media.
The decision didn’t identify Slovenia’s prime minister, Janez Janša, however is clearly aimed on the rightwing nationalist politician, who has known as journalists liars and “presstitutes”, attacked investigative reporters and promoted conspiracy theories.
While the decision is non-binding, it shines an uncomfortable highlight on Slovenia within the remaining weeks of its six months holding the EU’s rotating presidency.
MEPs from the parliament’s centre-right European People’s Party, which counts Janša as a member, largely voted towards the textual content, though a handful abstained.
The decision was handed with 356 votes in favour, 284 towards and 40 abstentions, having secured the backing of the centre-left, liberal, radical left and inexperienced teams. An modification drafted by a Belgian nationalist MEP congratulating Slovenia for a “successful” presidency of the EU council and noting that its establishments operate properly didn’t win assist.
The parliament’s investigation was triggered by Slovenia’s delay in nominating prosecutors to the European public prosecutor’s office, a brand new physique tasked with investigating fraud towards the EU finances. Two individuals had been nominated in November, however the government has since described these as non permanent and sought to alter the foundations on the appointment of public prosecutors, which means they may very well be dismissed.
Slovenia’s emergency Covid guidelines have additionally come beneath scrutiny, with MEPs voicing considerations concerning the “continuing practice of rule by decree” with out parliamentary scrutiny.
One of the strongest considerations was freedom of the press, after government strain on the Slovenia News Agency (STA). Janša’s government withheld the legally mandated state subsidy for many of 2021, bringing the company to the purpose of chapter. Most of the cash has since been paid, however a minimum of €507,000 stays excellent, based on the European parliament.
Similarly, MEPs known as for Slovenia’s government to safe “sufficient funding” and “cease all political interference and pressure” on the general public tv community RTV Slovenia.
Following the mannequin of Viktor Orbán’s government in Hungary, Janša has sought to curb the independence of publicly funded media. He has known as the Slovenian information company a nationwide shame and tried to take away its director normal. On Twitter he accused an RTV Slovenia journalist of mendacity once they in contrast well being spending with navy spending.
Unnamed Slovenian public figures and members of the government additionally stand accused by the European parliament of smear campaigns, slander towards critics and utilizing lawsuits to suppress public curiosity journalism.
Slovenia is ranked thirty sixth within the World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders, down 4 locations on its 2020 rating. The NGO has raised concern concerning the criminalisation of defamation and “slanderous verbal attacks” from politicians, a pattern it says worsened after Janša grew to become prime minister in March 2020.
Janša, who was in Brussels on Thursday for a summit of EU leaders, has but to reply to the vote. When MEPs visited Ljubljana on a fact-finding mission in October, Janša described some as “Soros puppets”, in a tweet referring to the Hungarian philanthropist George Soros that matches into antisemitic conspiracy theories.
The picture embedded within the tweet, later deleted, was mentioned to have come from a radical hate weblog, and pictured a number of outstanding MEPs from the Netherlands together with Sophie in ‘t Veld, who led the parliament’s fact-finding mission. The Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, condemned the tweet “in the strongest possible terms” and the Slovenian ambassador was summoned to listen to the identical message.
Janša responded by calling on Rutte and in ‘t Veld to “protect your journalists from being killed in the streets”, an obvious reference to the crime reporter Peter de Vries who was fatally shot in central Amsterdam in July.