European Federation of Journalists

Slovakia: EFJ President Maja Sever joined protest against SNS offensive on media, culture, environment and NGO sector

Aleš Vojtášek

Over 1,500 protesters gathered on 16 April 2024 in front of the National Council of the Slovak Republic to express their disagreement with legislation proposed by the Slovak National Party (SNS). Invited by the Otvorená Kultúra! Platform, the President of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) Maja Sever took the floor to express solidarity and recall the legacy of the murdered investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and its significance for free journalism and democracy.

Under the slogan “You Divide, We Unite!”, protesters called on the current government to withdraw the controversial legislative proposals aimed at political control of the media and the public funding system for culture and the arts. They opposed the unjustified personnel changes in organisations under the ministries of culture and the environment held by the SNS, as well as the lack of transparency, verbal attacks, and disregard for European standards of nature protection and citizen participation.

“Together, we must demonstrate determination and solidarity, emphasising that this is a battle for freedom and democracy. Those in power are attacking culture, the environment, non-governmental organisations, and journalism—the very pillars of democracy and a free society,” said Maja Sever in her speech.

The protest was organised on the first day of the 12th session of the National Council of the Slovak Republic as the parliament will discuss several controversial legislative proposals, including the Law on Slovak Television and Radio, the Law on The Slovak Arts Council, the Law on Museums and Galleries, the Law on the Environmental Protection Fund, the Law on Non-profit Organisations Providing Public Benefit Services, the Law on Environmental Impact Assessment, the Law on Protected Species Protection. The protest was organised by the Otvorená Kultúra! Platform, in cooperation with the Platform for Democracy and the Coalition of Environmental Organisations and Platforms.

The EFJ recently joined journalists and media freedom groups in calling for the urgent withdrawal of proposed legislation allowing political control over public-service media in Slovakia, contradicting the recently voted EU’s Media Freedom Act. Slovakia’s leading commercial broadcaster TV Markíza has also been under pressure since September 2023: many politicians of the current Fico-led government boycotted the channel and threatened it with cuts to state advertisement.

This statement was produced by EFJ as part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries.