News 2015

Slovenian Government drafted the new Media Law to re-introduce the “verbal delict”

22.06.2015

  • Slovenian Government proposed the new Media Law, which re-introduces the practice of punishment for politically incorrect content and sanctions against media that spread “intolerance”
  • Proposal does not define “political intolerance”, which opens the door for sanctions against any critical thinking that is not in-line with the Government’s position
  • University of Ljubljana professor was sentenced by the Higher Court because he dared to write an op-ed critical to historian, linked to the old nomenclature.
The Government of the Republic of Slovenia proposed the new Media Law, which re-introduces the practice of punishment for the “politically incorrect” content. Such was also the practice in the former communist regime when crime of verbal delict was used as a tool by the authorities to prosecute political opposition. In 2015 the governing elite decided to name it “fight against intolerance”. It is an attempt to sanction those whose opinion is not in line with Government’s positions.

The proposal foresees sanctions against the media that spread “intolerance” and at the same time does not define “intolerance”, which opens the door for sanctions against any critical thinking that is not in-line with the government’s position. In practice, the law would encourage selective sanctioning. It could tolerate insults coming from the government linked media as opinions and sanction critical thinking aimed at the Government politicians and consider it as political intolerance. As a result, the competent authorities may fine or even confiscate equipment and seal any media company, if its programme includes “insults to the political beliefs”. Hardly any political newspaper or broadcasting station would be able to go through a week without a fine.

Slovenian Democratic Party strives for a highly cultivated level of political dialogue, but sanctioning the opinion is dangerous. Without the freedom of speech, the democratic political life and discourse are at stake.

First sign of the tendency of Slovenian judiciary and old nomenclature to silence the critical intellectuals and publicists is the conviction of dr. Boštjan M. Turk, professor at University of Ljubljana. The Higher Court sentenced Dr Turk because he dared to write an op-ed critical to historian, linked to the old nomenclature. The Court explained in the verdict that Mr Turk exceeded the conceptual framework of the topic on which he was reporting. Such conviction would not be possible even in the last years of Yugoslavia, which defined public criticism or “verbal delict” in its criminal law as a crime.

By convicting an intellectual on the basis of verbal delict, Slovenia is again becoming the EU unicum.