March 2, 2018

RSF asks Slovak premier to express regret after insulting journalists

Christophe Deloire, the secretary-general of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), met with Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico early today in Bratislava, one week after the double murder of journalist Ján Kuciak and his partner, Martina Kusnirova, in their home in Velka Maca.

Harlem Désir, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s representative on freedom of the media, was present at the meeting, which took place a few hours before a demonstration in the Slovak capital organized by students and journalists.

During the meeting, Deloire deplored the “appalling climate for journalists” that has been sustained and even created by many European politicians including government leaders, as in Poland and Hungary.

Czech President Milos Zeman gave a press conference in October 2017 at which he brandished a fake Kalashnikov with the inscription “for journalists.” In Slovakia, Prime Minister Fico has insulted journalists on several occasions.

When reporters investigated his handling of public funds in November 2016, Fico called them “dirty anti-Slovak whores” and accused them of trying to damage Slovakia’s European Union presidency. In December 2017, he accused them of double standards in their coverage of him, calling them “ignorant” and even offering to show them how to write a news story.

“We take note of the efforts undertaken by the Slovak state to solve the murder of the journalist Ján Kuciak and his partner,” Deloire told Prime Minister Fico at today’s meeting. “We nonetheless think you should express regret and apologize for having insulted journalists on several occasions.

“After Ján Kuciak’s murder, you also have a duty to ensure that the justice system is able to convict his murderers, and a duty to protect journalists who investigate tax fraud and corruption. Finally, we urge you to give a solemn undertaking to defend the work of investigative journalists when they cover tax evasion, corruption and organized crime at the national, European and international level.”