RTV Slovenija case goes to Strasbourg court
After the Slovenian Constitutional Court reversed its decision to stay the legislative changes on the governance of the public broadcaster, the petitioners challenging the law have taken their case to the European Court of Human Rights. They allege violation of the right to a fair trial.
"By lifting the temporary suspension, the Constitutional Court deprived the petitioners of the only legal remedy available to us in Slovenia, which opens our path to the European Court of Human Rights," Peter Gregorčič, the lead challenger of the law, and Matej Avbelj, the jurist who authored the petition, wrote in announcing their application on 29 May.
Gregorčič chairs the RTV Slovenija programme council, which under the court's decision will now be replaced by a new governing council of the public broadcaster in accordance with the legislative amendments, which were endorsed in the November 2022 referendum.
The Constitutional Court decreed on 26 May that the new governing body be inaugurated within seven days after the court's decision is published in the Official Gazette. As a result the other bodies under the amended law can also be formed, and a call published to pick a new management.
The new council, consisting of 17 members representative of the staff and society, will replace the 29-member programme council and a 11-strong supervisory board. Unlike so far, none of the members are appointed by parliament. The new council's members have already been named.
The petitioners believe the reversal of the law's suspension sets "a dangerous precedent in the European legal space in that the court lifted the stay without protecting the legal position of the petitioners in any way".
They find that the court "deprived the petitioners of any effective remedy" and of the right to be heard, which is part of the right to a fair trial.
The court "clearly stated that it cannot exercise its constitutional role in accordance with the principle of effective judicial protection within a reasonable time", they point out.
"The court considered that, in accordance with the principle of separation of powers, it was necessary to protect the position of the legislator against the rights of the petitioners, who are the real bearers of human rights," reads the application that the petitioners sent to the Strasbourg court.
They invoke paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the Convention on Human Rights which provides that everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law.
The petitioners challenged the amended RTV Slovenija Act on the grounds of abuse of the legislative procedure as well as lack of effective legal protection against early termination of their terms as members of the broadcaster's governing bodies abolished by the new legislation.