CoE warns new draft laws risk having a chilling effect on the Slovak civil society and public service media independence 

Slovak Radio Building, RTVS radio's headquarters in Bratislava.

In a letter addressed to the Deputy Speaker of the National Council (Parliament) of the Slovak Republic and several Committee chairpersons, published today, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Michael O’Flaherty, emphasises the crucial importance of the legislative frameworks ensuring the independence of public service media from government control. 

He expresses concerns about the compatibility of two draft laws affecting civil society and the public service broadcaster with human rights standards. 

About the draft law on non-profit organisations, Commissioner O’Flaherty highlights that sanctions for failing to meet new annual reporting obligations, including dissolution of an organisation, “appear to lack appropriate procedural safeguards and to fail to meet the requirements of necessity and proportionality sufficiently.” 

He also expresses concern that the registration and labelling of ‘organisations with foreign support’ will create a chilling effect for civil society in the Slovak Republic. He calls on members of the National Council to refrain from adopting the bill as tabled. 

As regards the bill replacing the current public service broadcaster RTVS with a new entity (STVR), the Commissioner asks the National Council to “give close consideration to concerns that elements of the bill may undermine safeguards for the operational and editorial independence of the public service broadcaster.”

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