Left’s amendments to STA act passed

Ljubljana – The National Assembly voted 48:38 in favour of amendments to the act governing the STA that require the STA English Service to report on the work of NGO as a legal requirement.

The English Service already reports on NGOs, but the law on the STA does not stipulate this as an explicit requirement, even as it includes such a provision for the Slovenian-language service.

The Left, which tabled an identical bill and resubmitted it after it was voted down in October, has said the goal of the amendments is to make sure the international public is informed about the work of Slovenian NGOs.

This was also a point raised by centre-left opposition parties, which argued NGOs were an important part of society and deserved media attention.

The government has opposed the legislation, arguing that it is drawing up a separate, more comprehensive bill on the STA that would deal with all key aspects of the law.

It also said the proposed change is unnecessary since the law already determines that the STA reports on humanitarian and non-governmental organisations.

Centre-right coalition parties stressed that NGOs can circulate their messages in English themselves if they want to, and noted that this is not something the state should have to finance.

MPs of the DeSUS and SNS meanwhile noted that the primary mission of the STA was to report in Slovenian about topics of relevance to Slovenian citizens.

The debate also touched on the current status of the STA and the ongoing funding dispute with the government.

Several opposition MPs warned that the suspension of budget financing has put the agency in a bind and accused the government of meddling.

SAB MP Marko Bandelli said the government was “interfering with media autonomy and undermining the freedom of the press”, and SD deputy Samo Bevk said the government was “fighting a battle against the STA for months”.