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Committee 2015 (Human Rights Committee) addressed a letter to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, on media freedom and the rule of law in Slovenia, and on the political influence of Tanja Fajon!

Ever since the failed no-confidence vote against the government with the proposed candidate for prime minister, Karl Erjavec, it has been possible to hear how the country is supposed to have problems with media freedom and respect for the rule of law. As a whole bunch of untruths are circulating outside Slovenia, especially in Brussels, at the expense of exporting lies, the Committee 2015 decided to send a letter to the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen on the rule of law and freedom of the media in Slovenia and political influence of the SD party president Tanja Fajon.

In the introduction, the letter emphasises that they welcome any discussion in which truth and justice are sought. They state that they are not surprised by the debate in the Committee 2015, which was initiated in the European Parliament by the far left from Slovenia and Europe, but they were surprised by the debate by MEPs Irena Joveva and Tanja Fajon. Given that Fajon is the president of the SD party, former Slovene communists, they were surprised that Fajon wanted to portray Slovenia as a member of the European Union, where freedom of speech is not guaranteed in the country and where some journalists and media houses are under pressure from the current Government of Republic of Slovenia.

The SD prevented a Nova24TV cameraman from entering the premises where their press conference took place
“The debate on freedom of speech and pressure on the media took place in the European Parliament in 2021, the same year when MEP Tanja Fajon, in her role as president of the Social Democrats, prevented a Nova24TV cameraman from entering the premises where a press conference of their political party took place,” they recalled, adding that they condemned the event in both journalists’ associations.

The Association of Journalists and Publicists wrote that such a restriction grossly interferes with the freedom of the media. They added that this was especially incomprehensible by the party, which daily drew attention to alleged pressures on the work of the media in Slovenia. “They have announced that they will also inform the European Parliament about this. The Slovenian Journalists’ Association considers any restriction of access to public statements and press conferences convened for the media to be unacceptable. The association expects the party to enable the monitoring of statements by all members of the public,” they said, adding: “Tanja Fajon is also one of those MEPs and president of a political party that has a direct influence in the Slovenian prosecutor’s office and judiciary, which is evidenced by some cases of political persecution of Tanja Fajon’s opponents through the judiciary.”

To make it easier to see what is happening in Slovenia, they cited an example of Franc Kangler, a long-time member of the Slovene People’s Party, who was a member of the Slovene parliament from 1996 to 2007. After defeating Fajon’s party candidate Boris Sovič in 2006, he became mayor of Maribor. “Revenge for the political defeat quickly started, as 24 criminal charges and 1 lawsuit were filed against Kangler, with the help of Maribor judge Janez Žirovnik, who is also a former agent of the Yugoslav State Security Service (SDV SFRJ). As a Slovene MP and supervisor of the intelligence and security services in the Slovene parliament, Franc Kangler was in direct conflict with the aforementioned judge, which was reflected in various working bodies in the Slovene parliament. In 2007, Žirovnik became a judge at the District Court in Maribor, where he issued more than 10 court orders against Franc Kangler”, the Committee 2015 notes, adding that Kangler has concluded all court proceedings, except one that is still pending. He then ran for MEP in 2019 on the SDS-SLS candidate list.

Slovenia is far from a state governed by the rule of law
They reminded that Fajon attended a pre-election party rally in May 2019, where she was accompanied by two judges Matjaž Štok and Slavko Gazvoda, both from the District Court in Maribor. “As an interesting fact we are also adding that the two judges in the Kangler cases ordered various criminal orders.” They emphasise that the fact that Slovenia is far from a state governed by the rule of law and a state that would guarantee fundamental human rights is proved by the words of the judge, who wrote in the verdict that he convicts someone only to prevent him from political activity. “In the case of Kangler, this was done by Judge dr. Boštjan Polegek, who said the following words in the courtroom on July 7th, 2014: “It is already known that Kangler works on a farm, but he poses a serious danger of returning to political life – he must go to prison! Only a binding conviction distracted him from political life!”

“How do you comment on the fact that the SD party in Slovenia, led by MEP Fajon, deeply violates human rights and fundamental freedoms, and does not condemn judges taking political sides, she even allows and supports it?,” they asked the President of the European Commission, adding that the SD party allows and supports that a former agent of the Yugoslav State Security Service (SDV SFRJ) may be elected a judge at the District Court in Maribor. “It is clear from the attached picture that the political party of Tanja Fajon has a great political influence on the judiciary. To make our statements true, we enclose a translated letter from the Maribor prosecutor Niko Pušnik, which he addressed to the Slovenian Parliament. In a letter in 2019, he wrote that he was under great pressure from the current politics of the time, of which the SD party was also a part. The following is a quote from his letter: “Or, if you want it more concretely, as a prosecutor in the Kangler cases, I have been under a continuous pressure with discarded ‘Udba methods.’” According to the chairman of the 2015 Committee, Željko Vogrin, who also signed the letter, this is a disgrace for Slovenia, the Slovenian judiciary, and the prosecutor’s office. Once everything is enough, he emphasises and adds that once the “masks must fall from the faces” and matters need to be called a spade a spade. “I insist on this statement, even though the intelligence-prosecutor connection will send someone to Pohorje to physically silence me…”, he is clear.

In the letter, the committee also reminded of the staged “Patria” affair from 2014, where the then president of the opposition SDS party Janez Janša was convicted without any evidence, thus preventing him from winning the elections. “We have information that the then President of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Slovenia, Branko Masleša, assigned the “Patria” case to another judge, which was illegal. The President of the Supreme Court was warned of the inadmissibility of this conduct by an employee who later left Slovenia for fear of revenge and went abroad.” The President of the European Commission is asked if this is the rule of law for her, which is supported by the political party SD (former communists of Slovenia) led by Fajon? “Is it permissible within the European Union today for former agents of the Yugoslav State Security Service to become judges and judge and decide on people with whom they have been in conflict for 11 years, as had happened in the case of former Maribor Mayor Kangler?”

Von der Leyen was invited by the committee to visit Slovenia and in this way be directly convinced of the rule of law and freedom of speech in Slovenia. “We expect that the European Parliament will launch a debate on the rule of law in Slovenia, in which we want to participate and discuss, as we would like to inform MEPs directly with evidence and documents about the actual situation in the field of rule of law in Slovenia.”

Nina Žoher

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