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IPI calls on Parliament to reject proposed extension of criminal defamation

(IPI/IFEX) - The following is an IPI press release:

Vienna, 22 April 2008

IPI Calls on Slovenian Parliament to Reject Proposed Extension of Criminal Defamation Laws

The International Press Institute (IPI), the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in over 120 countries, calls on the Slovenian parliament to reject the proposed extension of the country's criminal defamation laws.

According to information before IPI, a package of draft amendments to the Slovenian Criminal Code is currently pending before the Slovenian parliament. Among the proposed changes is an amendment to Article 166 of the Criminal Code, which lays out criminal liability where published material is found to have harmed someone's reputation, disgraced the Republic of Slovenia, disgraced a foreign country or international organisation, or disgraced the Slovenian people or the national minorities. Punishments range from a fine to up to two years in prison.

According to existing legislation, individual journalists are liable for their published material. However, if the draft amendment is enacted, liability will lie with the journalist and, when the publishing medium is a periodical, with the responsible editor, or, when the medium is not a regular publication, with the publisher or the printer.

"IPI has been calling on the Slovenian government to abolish its criminal defamation laws, and to engage in dialogue with the Slovenian media. Instead, the government appears to be heading in the opposite direction at a time when other European countries such as Ireland are removing such laws," said David Dadge, IPI Director. "We strongly urge the Slovenian parliament to reject the proposed amendments and to carry out a wide-ranging discussion about its criminal defamation laws."

IPI, the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists, is dedicated to the furtherance and safeguarding of press freedom, the protection of freedom of opinion and expression, the promotion of the free flow of news and information, and the improvement of the practices of journalism.

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