SLOVENIA: Support for petition by Slovenian journalists

SLOVENIA, SLOVENIA, 02/10/2007, 10:50

IPI calls on Slovenian government to hold an independent inquiry into allegations of political pressure on the media, expresses support for petition by Slovenian journalists

The International Press Institute (IPI), the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in over 120 countries, and its affiliate, the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), have expressed their support for the "Petition Against Censorship and Political Pressures on Journalists in Slovenia", signed by 438 journalists from the major media outlets in Slovenia and sent to the heads of state, prime ministers and parliamentary speakers of all EU member states.

The concerns outlined in the Petition correspond to the issues brought up in an IPI/SEEMO press release of 31 August.

One of the allegations mentioned in the press release was that the Slovenian government is indirectly influencing the media through its exploitation of business relationships with companies that have financial holdings in a range of media organisations. "Business relationships and share holdings should never be used by the government as leverage to induce independent media organisations to publish favourable news stories," IPI Director Johann P. Fritz said at the time.

IPI also shares the concerns expressed in the Petition over the number of instances of censorship exercised on individual journalists who have written articles critical of the government of President Janez Janša.

Slovenia will take over the presidency of the European Union (EU) during the first half of 2008 as the first of the new member states that joined the EU on 1 May 2004. Countries that assume the EU presidency must lead by example. If the principle of editorial independence is breached, it is not only of serious concern for the media, but also for the public who rely on their information. IPI therefore calls on the Slovenian government to hold an independent inquiry into the allegations of political pressure on the media.

Three months remain until Slovenia will assume the presidency of the EU on 1 January 2008. This allows the Slovenian government enough time to set up an independent inquiry and to ensure that the executive branch of government is always held at arm's length from the media.

If no progress is made in this direction, IPI/SEEMO will be obliged to send a high-level mission of international media representatives to Slovenia at the beginning of 2008 to investigate the situation of the media environment and put pressure on the key decision makers to ensure editorial independence.

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