European Interest

Rule of Law in Slovakia : MEPs carried out a monitoring visit

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Civil Liberties Committee MEPs visited Slovakia on Tuesday and Wednesday in the framework of the ongoing monitoring of democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights.
The delegation to Slovakia included : Sophie IN ‘T VELD (Renew, NL – delegation Chair), Elena YONCHEVA (S&D, BG), Clare DALY (The Left, IE), Vladimír BILČÍK (EPP, SK), Annalisa TARDINO (ID, IT), Patryk JAKI (ECR, PL), and Sergey LAGODINSKY (Greens/EFA, DE).

At the end of the mission, Sophie in ‘t Veld, Chair of Delegation, said:                          “The DRFMG in the European Parliament has been monitoring the situation in Slovakia closely since the murder of Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová in 2018. The delegation is encouraged by the progress made in the investigations and prosecution of the murders and the numerous related cases. We recognise the plans of the government to address the challenges regarding media freedom, and we welcome the steps taken to reform the justice system. We strongly encourage the legislative bodies to pursue the ambitious agenda and implement these reforms as soon as possible.                                                                At the same time, the most recent indictments of journalists and prosecutors and reports of hate speech raise sincere concerns that harassment and intimidation are still being used to silence critical voices and to undermine investigations into corruption and serious crimes. The delegation calls on the government to do everything in their power to end the persisting inter-institutional conflicts between (and within) law enforcement agencies and to overcome the resistance against reforms and investigations, which persists in Slovakia. This is a watershed-moment for the country. To restore citizens’ trust in the system and to continue building a modern state with a clean and efficient government and administration, the success of these reforms is crucial.”

Judicial reform, fight against corruption, protection of journalists and media freedom

During their two-day mission, Members met with the families of Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová, with representatives of non-governmental organisations and journalists, as well as with senior government and state representatives, including Prime Minister Eduard Heger, Minister of Interior Roman Mikulc, Minister of Justice, Mára Kolíková, and members of the National Council of the Slovak Republic. Respect for the rule of law was also discussed with judges of the Supreme Court, top officials of the Slovak Police Force, the National Criminal Agency and the Financial Intelligence Unit.                                    Members were interested in the upcoming reform of the judiciary, the fight against corruption, measures to protect journalists and whistle-blowers and the state of media freedom. They also enquired about the ongoing criminal proceedings for the murder of Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová.

The Civil Liberties Committee’s Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group builds on the work of a previous group, set up in June 2018 in the aftermath of the murders of the Maltese blogger and journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, and of Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová. With a mandate running to 31 December 2021, the Group focuses its work on threats to democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights, as well as the fight against corruption within the EU, across all Member States.                                                                                                                     The European Parliament sent several delegations to Slovakia following the murder of Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová in 2018. A first delegation, organised jointly by the Civil Liberties and Budgetary Control committees, visited Slovakia in March 2018. A visit of the Civil Liberties Committee followed in September, as part of a delegation which also covered Malta, and in December 2018, MEPs from the Committee on Budgetary Control travelled to the country.

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