IFJ Investigation into Unsolved Attack of Investigative Journalist: Press Freedom Lies in the Hands of Slovene Police

The International Federation of Journalists, the world's largest journalists organization, today called upon the Slovenian authorities to initiate an independent investigation into the brutal attack against investigative journalist, Miro Petek.

"Slovenian authorities must delay no longer," said the IFJ. "The country has made good progress in establishing a vibrant democracy, however the attack on Miro Petek throws a shadow over the future of press freedom."

Since the attack in February 2001 the police have failed to prosecute a single individual. As a result and in response to appeals from the Slovenian Journalists Association, who have been leading the campaign on behalf of Miro Petek, the IFJ organized an independent mission to examine the lack of progress in the investigation. The mission took place 10-12 April, and the IFJ was represented by Alexander Sami, Central Secretary of the Swiss Federation of Journalists.

In the IFJ mission report, published today, the IFJ found the following:

the attack was motivated by Miro Petek's investigative journalism and his revelations of corruption in Slovenia;

the failure to prosecute those responsible has left some Slovenian journalists concerned about their own safety;

a lack of independence of local police force undermines its capacity to conduct a full and independent investigation;

the attack also intimidates the police, judiciary, local authorities and their families, undermining their ability to act professionally and independently;

relatives of police officers and state prosecutors were fired from jobs without explanation;

six journalists are currently being sued for their coverage of the Miro Petek case.

"It is clear that local prosecutors have neither the resources nor the confidence to pursue the investigation to its conclusion," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "Given the repercussions of the case for press freedom it is vital that the authorities take more concerted action. This includes placing the investigation in the hands of an independent team of prosecutors from beyond the region who will not be vulnerable to local pressure."

The IFJ further called on the European Union to take note of the Miro Petek case and to raise the issue of press freedom in its negotiations for accession.

"An attack on journalists is a form of censorship, and this is exactly what the broader and more dramatic implication of the attack against Petek is", said Alexander Sami author of the report. "Ironically, the freedom of the press in Korosko and the rest of Slovenia is in the hands of the police."