Slovak journalist’s murder confirms urgent need for EU whistleblower protections
The killings of the Slovak investigative journalist, Ján Kuciak and his partner, Martina Kušnírová, were widely condemned by MEPs in the Strasbourg plenary today, as the EU grapples with the murder of yet another journalist by unknown assailants in as many months.
The double murder in Slovakia last month shocked the central European nation amidst revelations that Kuciak had been looking into possible financial links between the Italian mafia and the Slovak government.
Their killings came barely five months after the assassination of another investigative journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia, in Malta.
Speaking at the plenary, Czech MEP Kateřina Konečná described the Slovaks’ murders as cowardly and disgusting, and said that the deaths must be investigated thoroughly:
“There can be no excuses for the brutal murders of Ján Kuciak and his partner, Martina Kušnírová - two bright young people in search of the truth“.
However, she also cautioned MEPs from having the wrong assumptions about the current situation in Slovakia and, in particular, voicing her opposition to what she perceives as recent foreign interference in the country’s judicial and political institutions:
“My fellow MEPs must not assume that Slovakia is being run by the mafia. How dare the likes of Manfred Weber (EPP leader) tell the Slovak government what to do!? Can you imagine the furore if Slovakia lectured Germany like that? There would be uproar. It smacks of double standards!”
“No one should be allowed to undermine democracy and its institutions in Slovakia,” Konečná said.
Meanwhile, Greek MEP Stelios Kouloglou said it is high time for urgent action to protect whistleblowers:
“It is no coincidence that we have witnessed murder after murder here in the EU. There is so much to investigate and Europe is such fertile ground for this: powerful oligarchs aplenty with tax heavens available all over the EU.”
“In the meantime, whistleblowers’ protection is weak both on an EU level as well as in member states. Let’s not forget the Novartis scandalous in Greece which has only come to the public’s attention thanks to whistleblowers,” he said.