Lassakova: Slovakia Best Within V4 Group in Press Freedom Ranking

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Culture Minister Lubica Lassakova (photo by TASR)

Bratislava, April 25 (TASR) – The murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak has significantly contributed to Slovakia’s year-on-year drop by ten places in the Reporters without Borders (RSF) 2018 World Press Freedom Index, stated Culture Minister Lubica Lassakova (Smer-SD) after the Cabinet session on Wednesday.

“The tragic event that happened here partly played a role in it. I would like to point out that we scored the best from among the V4 countries [Visegrad Four: the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia],” said Lassakova, adding that she would like to see the evaluation criteria and the evaluators of the RSF ranking.

The culture minister went on to say that she isn’t questioning the Press Freedom Index in any way, however. “As a former journalist and the current culture minister, I will always advocate for journalists to have the freedom of speech and press,” she said, adding that she’s ready to give journalists a helping hand at any time.

Lassakova went on to say that it would be useful to look at the Slovak Syndicate of Journalists and strengthen its position. “Even the journalists themselves could prepare a platform or an institution that would better concentrate their interests,” she said.

According to the Opposition Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party, it’s mainly the third government of Robert Fico that is responsible for Slovakia’s significant drop in the press freedom ranking. “The current slump by ten places is alarming and means that under the governance of the current coalition the Slovak state power has been abandoning democratic norms while approaching an oligarchic regime in which people’s fundamental rights and freedoms are suppressed,” said SaS in its statement, adding that the murders of the journalist and his fiancée “were the result of Robert Fico’s long-term negative attitude towards journalists and the freedom of the press”.

Slovakia has fallen by ten places year-on-year to the current 27th in the RSF 2018 World Press Freedom Index, with the NGO referring to the journalist’s murder in February as a key event.