Slovakia’s Safety Threat: Journalists in Danger After PM Assassination Attempt

Bratislava, Slovakia – The safety of journalists in Slovakia is now a growing concern following an assassination attempt on the country’s Prime Minister, Robert Fico. The attack, which occurred as Fico was greeting the public after a government meeting, has sparked fears amidst the media for their safety. Some politicians have pointed fingers at local independent media, alleging that critical coverage of Fico may have incited the attack.

Since coming into power in October, tensions between the government, led by Fico’s Smer party, and the media have escalated. The shooting of Fico, believed to have a political motive, has further exacerbated these tensions. Calls to refrain from assigning blame for the attack on any particular group have been made in an effort to de-escalate the situation in society. However, senior members of the governing coalition parties have continued to blame the media for instigating anger towards the government.

Journalists in Slovakia, along with press freedom watchdogs, are concerned about the increasing risk of reporters becoming targets of violent attacks. Criticism towards the media from the ruling coalition parties has been ongoing, with some journalists receiving death threats and facing online harassment for years. The atmosphere of distrust in the media among the public, as indicated by a recent survey showing only 37% trust in the media, has heightened concerns for journalist safety.

In the aftermath of the assassination attempt, newsrooms have implemented extra security measures, and the government has pledged to provide additional protection to groups facing heightened safety risks, including the media. However, media rights organizations stress the importance of political leaders taking steps to reduce tensions in society and ensure the safety of journalists.

As concerns mount over the safety of journalists, there are also fears that the assassination attempt could further erode media freedom in the country. Recent legislation approved by the government, which is expected to pass in parliament soon, has raised alarms about the potential control of the public broadcaster by the government. This, coupled with statements from political leaders hinting at increased regulation of journalistic ethics, has heightened apprehensions within the media community.

Local journalists are bracing themselves for potential repressive measures that could make their already challenging work even more difficult. The uncertainty looming over the future of media-government relations in Slovakia underscores the need for calm and dialogue between politicians and the media community. As the country navigates this pivotal moment, the hope remains for a de-escalation of tensions and a commitment to upholding press freedom in Slovakia.

IPS UN Bureau Report