Združenje novinarjev in publicistov
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An open letter for European Commissioner natisni

The Association of Journalists and Commentators protests against the candidacy of Alenka Bratušek for European Commissioner

 

An open letter to the President of the European Commission, Mr Jean-Claude Juncker

 

Dear Mr President,

 

The Association of Journalists and Commentators from Slovenia is outraged over the candidacy of Slovenian Prime Minister, Mrs Alenka Bratušek, for the position of European Commissioner, and therefore we call upon you not to appoint her to this position. Mrs Alenka Bratušek launched a criminal prosecution against the photojournalist Jani Božič for taking a picture with his mobile phone of her being congratulated for the appointment as Prime Minister of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia. Božič later published the picture on his web portal Podlupo.net, including his finding that the Prime Minister was congratulated by the Slovenian economist already 20 minutes before she was actually elected. Following a proposal by the newly elected Prime Minister, the photojournalist was afterwards interrogated by the police, and the State Prosecutor's Office filed charges against him, accusing him of committing a criminal offence, namely violating the secrecy of means of communication. While the economic crisis and political pressure on the media in Slovenia forced Božič to move to Great Britain, where he found himself a new job, the court proceedings against the photojournalist are taking place at the District Court in Ljubljana.


When the criminal complaint was filed, the Association of Journalists and Commentators protested against it, stressing that the freedom of the press in Slovenia has been jeopardized. Subsequently, we called upon the Prime Minister Bratušek to withdraw her proposal for criminal prosecution against Mr Božič. In doing so, we also submitted news articles from Italian and British newspapers, in which journalists published pictures of different letters exchanged between the Italian politicians in the parliament or documents carried by the British Minister down the street. We are convinced that in other EU countries, the photojournalist Jani Božič would not be prosecuted for publishing the disputed picture. However, despite this, the Prime Minister insists on continuing the prosecution. It is unacceptable that a person who criminally prosecutes a photojournalist in her home country merely because he published a picture of her being congratulated for her new appointment could become a European Commissioner. Therefore, we urgently call upon you, dear Mr President of the European Commission, not to appoint her as a European Commissioner, for she is not committed to the values of European democracy which includes freedom of the press or freedom of public expression.

 

Respectfully,

 

Tino Mamić, the president of Association of Journalists and Commentators 

 

PS: This open letter has been sent also to the Members of the European Parliament.

 

19. 8. 2014

 
Report on the Freedom of the Press in Slovenia for 2013 natisni

The freedom of the press in Slovenia has been infringed significantly. In 2013, there were several cases showing that the political and economic influence over the media has increased. Despite freedom of expression being protected by the Constitution, self-censorship has become a common occurrence in the Slovenian media.

The political pressure and directing of many journalists in the majority of the daily information media strengthened in 2013. Several tens of journalists were forced to resign, signing only a cooperation agreement with their media, which substantially worsened their financial situation, and more tens of journalists are destined to follow the same path in the coming months. Moreover, many journalists who got their job as freelancers but had actually been doing the work of a full-time employee all this time were laid off. The majority of media houses cut their salaries, which hit the younger journalists brutally hard, whereas the older journalists and editors were not affected as much.

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A CALL TO THE GOVERNMENT TO STOP PRESSURING THE JOURNALISTS natisni

The Association of Journalists and Commentators (ZNP) calls on the Government of Alenka Bratušek to stop pressuring the journalists and interfering with the editorial policies of individual media. Such practices have impoverished the Slovenian media space, making it even more one-sided, and interfere with the freedom of the press guaranteed by the Constitution.

Namely, on 16 December 2013, the web portal Planet Siol began publishing a column written by a lobbyist, former MP and member of the Liberal Democracy of Slovenia (LDS) party, Mile Šetinc, who is, according to some media, also one of the advisers at the election headquarters of the Positive Slovenia (PS) party. When this happened, the Editor-in-Chief of the portal Uroš Urbas wrote an explanation under the column, saying that Šetinc was invited to become one of their visiting writers because the Editorial Board has been the target of repeated accusations from circles close to the Government that they do not understand the endeavours, efforts and achievements of the current Government.

This shows how the Government has been trying to influence the editorial policy of the portal by appointing its own people to make sure that the portal will write in a manner that is to its liking. The latter is unacceptable and should not be practised by any Government. It is the duty of the media to control the Government and its institutions and not to understand its actions or write about it in a manner that the Government thinks they should.

It is even more unacceptable for the Government to act in such a way, as it is obvious that, by doing so, it has been exploiting its influence within the ownership of the company, under which the portal operates. The portal is run under the auspices of the company TSmedia, which is majority-owned by Telekom Slovenija, the latter being majority-owned by the State.

Besides, this is not the first case of Alenka Bratušek's Government exerting pressure on the media. Thus, the television programme Pogledi Slovenije broadcasted on TV Slovenija was cancelled this year, immediately after it revealed the fact that Bratušek was involved in the sale of Mercator. To continue, two journalists, namely Stanislav Kovač and Jaka Elikan, had to leave their jobs at the newspaper Finance for criticising the Positive Slovenia's "frozen" president Zoran Janković. After the Government was replaced, Planet Siol was also subject to the replacement of certain members of the editorial staff.

ZNP therefore calls on the Government to stop putting direct and indirect pressure on the media and has decided to inform the international institutions dealing with freedom of the press in individual countries of the current events.

Management Board of ZNP

 
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