Statement about intervene in the freedom of speech in Slovenia natisni

The Association of Journalists and Publicists of Slovenia is hereby informing the international public that the Slovenian government is planning to drastically intervene in the freedom of speech and independence of the media by amending the Slovenian Media Legislation.
Just before summer 2019, the Ministry of Culture submitted a Draft on Media Legislation, which among other novelties introduces the establishment of so-called media inspectors who would have the powers to prohibit the publication of a content classified by them as hate speech. The judgment on what hate speech is will be solemnly left to personal judgments of the inspectors. Submitting the power to so-called inspectors who are, according to the Draft, journalists and will be chosen by the Ministry of Culture, could very likely provoke a trend that the journalists who are the supporters of a certain political option will be favored.

The media in which hate speech has been published will be subjected to drastic fines which may force the media to bankruptcy. The extreme penalties (€ 1000 to € 10,000) also do not comply with the principle of proportionality, as provided for by the European Media Act and Directive (EU) 2018/1972 of the European Parliament and the Council on the European Electronic Communications Code. In the Association of Journalists and Publicists we believe that such provisions will lead to persecution of those media promoting ideas that are contrary to the views of the government and the party in power. The trend has been evident for a while. The current Prime Minister Marjan Šarec and the parties forming the government coalition often criticize the media which the government perceives as the opposition media and often accuses them of hate speech. The Prime Minister openly favors the mainstream and state-owned media and has recently, on his website, urged companies not to advertise in the media spreading alleged hate speech. He has by far exceeded his powers as PM.
The Association is therefore convinced that the Draft is merely an attempt to silence the media which criticize the government in power and its coalition. Besides, the legislation on the media content is already regulated by the national law and is a part of the Slovenian legal system. The Draft is therefore a serious violation of the Slovenian legal system and among others breaches the separation of powers among the institutions, as well as the Constitution itself. Media evaluation must remain within the jurisdiction of the judicial branch.
Therefore we have a reason to believe that the new Media Draft in the proposed form is merely an attempt to discipline the disobedient media, and promote censorship and self – censorship.
The Association of Journalists and Publicists is particularly concerned because most of the media and particularly the national media have not recognized the Draft as damaging to the Slovenian media and democracy and have succumbed to the government pressures.

We, therefore, appeal to the Slovenian Government to withdraw the controversial changes, and we equally appeal to the international public to protect independent media and democracy in Slovenia by expressing its concern over the recent Media Draft.

The Association of Journalists and Publicists of Slovenia, 12. 9. 2019