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Slovakia: European Parliament deplores “serious shortcomings” in rule of law

Bratislava, Slovakia – On Thursday, members of the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning the “continuous efforts of a growing number of EU member state governments to weaken the rule of law, the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary”.

In the report, MEP’s, who voted in favour of the resolution by 398 votes against 85, singled out both Malta and Slovakia for “serious shortcomings in the rule of law” and growing threats towards journalists and freedom of the press.

More than one year after the murder of Slovak investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kušnírová, the European Parliament welcomed the charges brought against the alleged instigator of the murders, influential businessman and millionaire Marian Kocner. But the resolution “voices concern about the allegations of corruption, conflicts of interest, impunity and revolving doors in Slovakia’s circles of power. It also warns over the politicisation and lack of transparency” in the nomination of top officials, “such as for the position of Chief of Police”.

The resolution summarized the conclusion of a working group set up within the European Parliament to monitor the situation of rule of law in EU member states, with a specific focus on freedom of the press following the murders of Maltese blogger and journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia (October 2017) and Jan Kuciak in Slovakia (February 2018).

Former Prime Minister and chairman of the ruling Smer party Robert Fico recently intensified his attacks against Slovak media and is attempting to push through a controversial reform of the press code that would significantly muzzle the freedom of journalists and media outlets, according to analysts.

Earlier this week, the Council of Europe’s Group of State Against Corruption (GRECO) pointed out that Slovakia had failed to make any significant progress in adopting anti-corruption reforms, including regarding “inappropriate ‘behind-the-scenes’ decision-making”, transparency of the legislative process and prevention of conflicts of interest.

In this year’s Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index, Slovakia ranked 57th – the fourth most corrupt country in the EU – its worst score since 2013.