The Slovenia Times

Strasbourg court dismisses petition over RTV law

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. Photo: dpa/STA

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has dismissed an application by a group of former RTV Slovenija officials alleging that the Slovenian Constitutional Court violated their right to a fair trial when it gave its go-ahead in late May for new governing bodies to take over at the public broadcaster but failed to rule on the amended RTV Slovenija law on merits.

After the Constitutional Court reversed its decision to stay the amended RTV Slovenija Act, the group challenging the law took their case to the Strasbourg Court, arguing that by lifting the stay, the Constitutional Court denied them the only remedy available to them in Slovenia, which meant their legal remedies at home had been exhausted.

On 23 October, the lead petitioner Peter Gregorčič and the author of the petition, jurist Matej Avbelj announced that the Strasbourg court declared their petition inadmissible. The decision cannot be appealed.

"As concerns the complaints raised concerning the lifting of the interim measure by the Constitutional Court, the ECHR found that the matters complained of do not disclose any appearance of a violation of the rights and freedoms set out in the (Human Rights) Convention or the Protocols," Gregorčič and Avbelj wrote.

As concerns the reminder of the application, the court found that "domestic remedies have not been exhausted as the Constitutional Court continues to deliberate on the merits of the case," the pair added.

The Constitutional Court issued its decision to reverse to stay of the amended RTV Slovenija act on 26 May after being unable to reach for months a majority to decide the case on merits.

The decision was taken by four of the nine judges serving on the court, one voted against, while two did not cast their vote. Two other judges had earlier been recused from the case.

The Constitutional Court at the time said the divergence of views meant it would "not be possible to arrive at a decision on merits quickly."

Having received decision from the Strasbourg court, Gregorčič and Avbelj commented that it "is especially important in that it acknowledges that by lifting the stay, a minority of four constitutional judges did not violate any of the rights set out in the Convention or its Protocols, even though the applicants now in fact have no legal remedy left with respect to the case at hand".

"Their legal entitlement has been effectively annulled as the new law took effect under the decision by the Constitutional Court, which collapsed under pressure from ruling politics, the media and selected civil society. The ECHR has confirmed that such conduct by the authorities, now and in the future, is in line with the minimum standards of the European legal order," the pair wrote.

Before the new RTV Slovenija legislation took effect Gregorčič chaired the RTV Slovenija programme council, which has since been replaced by a new governing council of the public broadcaster in accordance with the legislative amendments, which were endorsed in the November 2022 referendum.

Apart from him, the petitioners included Andrej Grah Whatmough, the former RTV Slovenija director-general, and Uroš Urbanija, the former director of TV Slovenija. They were all appointed under the previous government.


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