Monday, September 3, 2007

Stifled Speech in Slovenia?

Slovene journalist Blaž Zgaga has just published an open letter in the Prague Post decrying wholesale political censorship of the press in Slovenia:

"Open letter to people who live in the European Union: In Slovenia, a sister country to the Czech Republic, many articles are censored that express any critical statements toward our prime minister, Janez Janša, our government or any of its policies.

For example, my newspaper, Večer, scrapped an opinion piece I wrote about how the new chief of the Slovenian Army was selected. Editors had previously planned for my column to run at the top of the editorial page.

The next day, I wrote about a change in policy that allows our secret services to eavesdrop on citizens. That column wasn’t published, either. These types of opinion columns were always assigned by editors and run in the past. Since January, however, I have not been called on to write any opinion columns.

According to research by the Peace Institute, an international nonprofit group with offices in Ljubljana, there are three types of press censorship in Slovenia. The first type of censorship is when sentences or whole paragraphs of text are deleted or changed without the consent of the author. Second on the list is when a newspaper refuses to publish articles or opinions after they have been assigned by editors. The third kind is people and topics that are verboten to writers if editors believe writing about them could disturb the government.

All three types of censorship exist at my newspaper and, unfortunately, also at a majority of other major Slovenian publications. At newspapers, top editors and the chief executive officer make these decisions. That means the distinction between editorial and management is practically dissolved in most Slovenian media."

The full text of
Zgaga's open letter in the Prague Post can be found online here.

Three ministers resign under pressure

"Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa said Thursday that he has accepted the resignation of three embattled ministers from his cabinet, in order to soothe poor relations with the opposition ahead of the country's presidency of the European Union.

Health Minister Andrej Brucan, Transport Minister Janez Bozic and High Education Minister Jure Zupan were under huge pressure over what the opposition said was their poor record.

Jansa told reporters that he has accepted the resignations, informed the parliament about them and promised to appoint the replacements soon. "

Source: DPA