Update 13 September 2021: On Tuesday 7 September, the Home Policy Committee of the parliament of Slovenia confirmed an amendment to the Act on public law and order regarding indecent behaviour. The original proposal envisaged fines for insulting senior officials, but the wording has been tweaked at the proposal of the coalition to make indecent behaviour towards ‘anyone’ punishable by a fine issued by the police. The bill that implements all the amendments to the act has not been voted at the plenary session of the parliament yet.
Article by Brankica Petković, the Peace Institute, 9 September 2021
There are new threats for freedom of speech, right to protest and civic space in Slovenia introduced by the government. The amendment to the Act on public law and order has been proposed this week by the government to introduce fines for indecent behaviour towards officials.
This is clearly a measure aiming to limit and sanction continuing protests against the government, particularly as the proposed amendment follows the event when the anti-government protesters met – by chance – PM Janša and Minister of the Interior Hojs at a mountain hut below Mt Triglav, Slovenia’s tallest peak, and used the opportunity to confront them and deliver a barrage of criticism and strong words towards them, while PM labelled the protesters as the patients of psychiatric hospital.
This happened when anti-government protesters, who usually stage bicycle rallies in the centre of Ljubljana, marked the 70th week of protests by climbing Mt Triglav, bicycle in tow.
When introducing the amendment the government claims that «threats against MPs and other senior representatives of the state have intensify lately» referring also to the event that happened several months ago, when a small group of individuals – opponents of the Covid-19 vaccines -confronted and verbally attacked several MPs at the entrance of the parliament in Ljubljana.
As reported by the national press agency STA, the proposed amendment to the Act on public law and order specifies that a person “arguing with, shouting at or behaving indecently to a public official who is conducting their official duties, or to a high-level representative of the state, MP, member of the National Council or the government, a Constitutional Court or Supreme Court judge, or their family members” could be slapped with a fine of up to €1,000. The new legislation would allow fines to be handed out on the spot if police detect such behaviour.
The proposal has already been endorsed by the government and will now be put to a parliamentary vote. The opposition parties have decried the motion as “an arrogant attempt to stifle protest” and “yet another repressive way of silencing the people.”