CIVICUS

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Slovakia

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Last updated on 01.11.2016 at 16:26

Slovakia - Overview

Slovakia’s laws contain strong protections for the core civic freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression.

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Association

Civil society organisations must register with the Interior Ministry while foundations face a double registration requirement, having to also register with the central body in the field of their operation.

Civil society organisations must register with the Interior Ministry while foundations face a double registration requirement, having to also register with the central body in the field of their operation. Experts in the sector have encouraged Slovakia to ensure registration is carried out by the courts in order to avoid political influence. Some financial restrictions are imposed on civil society. For instance, associations undertaking economic activities pay up to 40% income tax while foundations are prevented from undertaking operational activities, and limited to grant-making activities only. Same-sex partnerships are not recognised and a referendum on LGBTI matters was declared void after a less than 50% voter turnout. In September this year, human rights activist, Alena Krempaská, who is a member of the Human Rights Institute was attacked and sustained head injuries for alleged links to the social democratic party. She had been verbally threatened prior to this attack.

Peaceful Assembly

The right to protest is governed by the Law on Right to Assembly.

The right to protest is governed by the Law on Right to Assembly. Concerns have been raised that the burden on protest organisers to ensure stewards are available is designed to absolve the state of its duty to properly police public gatherings. Labour unions are allowed to assemble and picket without hindrance and this year teachers held peaceful nationwide strikes. In recent times, a rising anti-immmigrant sentiment amongst some sections of society has caused tensions on the streets of Slovakia, with protestors and counter-demonstrators separated by police. In 2015, large scale anti-immigrant rallies by right-wing parties took place and police had to intervene to prevent attacks on smaller pro-migrant gatherings; some arrests were carried out. A series of large political opposition protests took place in 2016 without major incident.


Expression

Free expression and the right to information is guaranteed by law in Slovakia.

Free expression and the right to information is guaranteed by law in Slovakia. The Internet is free to access and is unrestricted. Slovakia is ranked 12th out of 180 countries by the World Press Freedom Index, reflecting the presence of a vibrant media. At times, politicians attempt to curtail the media’s independence through legal means and arguing for their right to privacy to be upheld. Defamation attracts a sentence of up to eight years imprisonment ─ the harshest punishment for defamation in the European Union. In May 2015, the entire cabinet said it would not respond to questions from the newspaper Denník N after it published cartoons that portrayed the President as a thief. The newspaper was also banned from government press conferences.