We, the undersigned organisations, extend our solidarity to independent media and the satirical site Zomri in Slovakia, which are facing an increasing crackdown in the aftermath of the assassination attempt on Prime Minister Robert Fico. We urge government representatives and politicians to cease these attacks and instead rise to the challenge of calming societal tensions. Freedom of expression, including the freedom to joke, is the bedrock of a democratic society. A free society can thrive only through free expression and the exchange of ideas, even ideas that shock, offend, or disturb some people in the population.

While we unequivocally condemn the assassination attempt on Prime Minister Fico, we are deeply concerned that several government representatives and ministers are using this crime to attack independent media, civil society, and those voicing criticism of the current administration, accusing them of ‘hate speech’.

We are particularly concerned that, in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, several top politicians from the ruling coalition, including Andrej Danko, the leader of the Slovak National Party, attributed blame for the attack to the opposition and liberal Slovak media who have voiced criticism of the government. Danko said that the media ‘had blood on their hands’ and declared that ‘a political war [with critical media]’ was underway. This comment is extremely concerning, both on its own and in the context of attacks on critical media in the country, such as TV Markíza, SME, Dennik N, and Aktuality.sk, over the last several months.

Further, we are dismayed that the accusations have also been levied against major Slovak satirical site Zomri, which has over 414,000 followers on social media. Though Zomri regularly mocks top Slovak politicians, it has kept a low profile following the assassination attempt and abstained from commenting on the incident. Nevertheless, government officials, including Andrej Danko, a frequent target of Zomri’s satire, and Tomáš Taraba have insinuated that Zomri is linked to the assassination attempt because of its double meaning (both ‘die’ and ‘don’t bother me’) in Slovak.

The officials also publicly encouraged law enforcement to take action against the website. Danko asked during an interview whether ‘it was normal’ to have such a site when the Prime Minister had been shot. Concerningly, according to media reports, right-wing extremist Daniel Bombic (who is awaiting extradition to Slovakia and who was permanently banned by YouTube recently) published photos of the site’s alleged administrator (whose identity remains confidential) and his daughter on a Telegram channel.

We warn politicians that under international and European freedom of expression standards, the freedom to express ideas, information, opinions, and beliefs includes the freedom to do so using humour. It necessarily includes the freedom to joke, to make light of serious things, to jest, exaggerate, trivialise, satirise, parody, and mock. The fact that a politician was offended by a particular expression is not a sufficient reason to conclude that it was ‘hate speech’ that could be legitimately restricted.

We call on the government and its representatives to immediately cease their attacks and any forms of retaliation against Zomri and independent media. This difficult time and its accompanying challenges in Slovakia should be addressed with calm and in pursuit of unity. The situation must not be exploited for political gain.

The government must recognise the importance of independent media, civil society, and a vibrant civic space for democracy. The ability of journalists and satirists to comment, report, and engage in public debate must be fully protected, especially at this time.



ARTICLE 19: Global Campaign for Free Expression

Artistic Freedom Initiative (AFI)

Cartoon Movement

Cartoonists Rights

Cartooning for Peace

Forum for Humor and the Law 

Global Freedom of Expression – Columbia University

The Future of Free Speech

The Onion


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