GENEVA (5 March 2018) – Slovakia must send a strong message there will be no impunity for attacks against journalists by conducting a thorough investigation into the killing of Ján Kuciak and his partner Martina Kusnirova, UN human rights experts said.
“The killing of the couple is a terrifying reminder of the vulnerability in which investigative journalism finds itself even in democratic countries such as Slovakia where freedom of the press is respected,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, and the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard.
Kuciak, a 27-year-old investigative reporter, and his partner, Martina Kusnirova, were found murdered in their apartment on 25 February, east of Bratislava. His journalistic work was based on reporting fraud and tax evasion among Slovak elites, for which he had allegedly received threats and public disqualifications in the past.
“We call on the authorities of Slovakia to bring those responsible for the killings of Mr. Kuciak and Ms. Kusnirova to justice, and to put in place all necessary measures to protect all journalists in Slovakia,” they said.
“Slovakia must live up to international human rights standards of protection of public freedoms, and guarantee that anyone who brings information on fraud and corruption to the public eye is duly protected from any act of retaliation.”
Mr. David Kaye is the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Ms. Agnes Callamard is the UN’s Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work.
They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
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This year, 2018, is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rights: www.standup4humanrights.org.