Scottish PEN statement on the killing of Jan Kuciak and Martina Kusnírová

Here is our statement on the killing of Jan Kuciak and Martina Kusnírová in Slovakia

Scottish PEN wishes to offer support and solidarity to Slovak PEN and the family and friends of Jan Kuciak and Martina Kusnírová. We join the international community condemning these murders in the strongest possible terms.

Journalist Jan Kuciak’s death at the very moment he was engaged in investigating organised crime and its links to the Slovak government is a direct attack on free expression, press freedom and the brave work of journalists to improve transparency, inform the public and strengthen democracy. We reiterate our call for journalists around the world to be protected from violence and ensure that justice be done for the victims. If journalists are unable to expose wrongdoing and share information with the public, democracy is severely weakened.

Once more a journalist has being killed for doing their job, joining recent victims like Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta, Anna Politkovskaya in Russia, Gauri Lankesh in India, Ueliton Brizon and Jefferson Pureza Lopes in Brazil and many others. As identified by the Committee to Protect Journalists, PEN International and Reporters Without Borders (RSF), press freedom is under attack across the globe, with many of the murders, attacks or acts of violence left uninvestigated. According to UNESCO, “in the past eleven years (2006-2016) close to 930 journalists have been killed for reporting the news and bringing information to the public…in nine out of ten cases the killers go unpunished”. Impunity only breeds boldness, with more and more states seeing an opportunity to silence uncomfortable truths. The way to break this cycle is to ensure full and independent investigations take place, demonstrating that violence against journalists is against the legal, social and political rules that underpin robust and functioning democracies.

Jan Kuciak’s investigation into taxation and fraud among Slovak businesses uncovered links with organised crime and the ruling Slovak party. Fearless investigative journalism is vital to ensure that Slovak democracy is not for sale to the highest bidder as transparency and an informed public are the foundations of a healthy democracy. According to local media, before his death, Jan Kuciak had received threats related to his investigation and it is vital that the Slovak government strengthens protections for journalists, to ensure that necessary lessons are learned and journalists can continue their work free from the threat of violence.

After widespread shock and outrage caused by the first murder of a journalist in modern Slovakia, the resignations of the Slovak Prime Minister and Interior Minister and tens of thousands of people taking to the streets in Bratislava in protest, now is the moment to ensure that press freedom in Slovakia is prioritized and protected.

Scottish PEN calls on the Slovak government to reaffirm its commitment to robust press protection and take meaningful steps to entrench a politics of transparency and openness that champions both free expression and media freedom.

Tags: Jan Kuciak journalism murder press freedom Slovakia Writers at Risk