Intl journalist associations condemn Janša’s rebuke to Mijatović

London – Several international journalist organisations condemned Wednesday Prime Minister Janez Janša’s tweet that said Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović was “part of #fakenews network”. This came after her warning about deteriorating media freedom in Slovenia. The organisations agree with her assessment of the situation.

“We welcome a memorandum by Commissioner Mijatović and share her concern over the deterioration of media freedom in Slovenia, which coincides with findings of our recent fact-finding mission in the country,” said Article 19, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the International Press Institute (IPI), Free Press Unlimited (FPU) and OBC Transeuropa.

Their joint press release says that their findings on the situation will be part of a report produced by the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) mission to Slovenia. The mission was conducted in late May and early June and the report is expected to be published in July.

Mijatović’s office is independent and unbiased, which is also reflected in the memorandum, said the organisations, highlighting that the commissioner had not only released the report but also a six-page document displaying views by the Slovenian government.

“The tone and manner in which PM Janša voiced his disagreement with Commissioner Mijatović’s memorandum are in our opinion completely inappropriate for a leader of a democratic EU country,” the press release says.

Janša wrote in English on Twitter on Sunday: “Unfortunately, @Dunja_Mijatovic is part of #fakenews network. Well paid by our money.”

The organisations pointed out that the irony was that exactly this kind of conduct by officials on social media raised the alarm in the memorandum, calling on Janša to refrain from such statements in the future and instead strive to remedy the alarming situation.

Janša has responded to the organisations’ press release saying that “the manner in which @Dunja_Mijatovic is spreading lies about Slovenia is totally unacceptable”. “And we will not tolerate this without telling the truth.”

Mijatović urged the Slovenian authorities in the memorandum, published on Friday, to stop the deterioration of media freedom and freedom of expression in the country.

She raised concern over harassment, including sexist harassment against female journalists, intimidation, criminal lawsuits against reporters and the government’s attitude to public media.

As part of preparations for the report, Mijatović held talks with President Borut Pahor and a number of ministers in April but not with Janša. She also talked to journalists of different media, politicians, experts and representatives of the civil society.