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An appeal for freedom of speech in Slovenia

Slovenian citizen Vitogoj Kodarin is now into the twelfth year of his battle to open an independent private radio network in Slovenia. Investigations into the case by Domenico Pacitti and JUST Response have revealed rising systematic corruption in Slovenia beyond the external perception. Domenico Pacitti and JUST Response urgently invite Janez Drnovsek, President of Slovenia, and Premier Anton Rop  to take real action to combat corruption in Slovenia, promote free speech and allow Radio Mega.1 to broadcast.

An open letter to:-

Mr. Janez Drnovsek, President of Slovenia

Mr. Anton Rop, Premier of Slovenia

- and to the two million citizens of Slovenia

RE: We respectfully request  - 1) that you urgently launch an earnest  political campaign to combat white-collar corruption in Slovenia before the rest of the population becomes similarly infected by this negative example; and 2) that you provide a positive example for Slovenians on the eve of your accession to the EU by promoting freedom of expression and allowing Radio Mega.1 to function.

JUST Response is an international human rights journal concerned with the worldwide monitoring and promotion of the basic principles of truth, justice, freedom and democracy. We wish to express our full support for Mr Vitogoj Kodarin, whose ongoing 11-year battle to open an independent private radio network in Koper, Capodistria has now become also a question of principle.

In December 1992 Vitogoj Kodarin attempted to fulfil a lifelong dream by formally setting up Radio Mega.1. One month later the Slovenian ministry for information granted a licence. But corrupt administrative and political practices prevented the radio from broadcasting.

Mr Kodarin did not have the right connections and was unwilling to pay backhanders for something that was his legal right as a Slovenian citizen. Finally, three years ago the radio was struck off the official register against Mr Kodarin's will.

Mr Kodarin's efforts to obtain justice have fallen on deaf ears, with two distinguished exceptions: Dr Sandra Basic-Hrvatin, the chairwoman of the Slovenian telecommunications council, and Mr Janez Drobnic, an opposition member of the Slovenian parliament.

Dr Basic-Hrvatin told JUST Response that she was approached by Radio Mega.1 two years ago and began to investigate their case. She confirmed that she had helped them raise the issue before the Slovenian parliamentary petitions commission.

Meanwhile Mr Drobnic has just raised the question in the Slovenian parliament. But the governing coalition has blocked any decision on the matter.

Mr Kodarin said: "My case confirms that in Slovenia everything is possible for some and nothing is possible for others. Here in Slovenia we have one man who possesses no fewer than 36 radio frequencies. The sad truth is that Slovenia has become a sort of Stalinist banana republic."

Ironically, Slovenia is the only ex-Yugoslavia country with a corruption prevention bureau. It was set up in 2001 on Council of Europe recommendations. But it has been strongly criticised by its former director Bostjan Penko on account of its dependence on the cooperation of other government bodies.

Domenico Pacitti, the editor of JUST Response human rights journal, said: "Mr Kodarin's case highlights the true nature and extent of corruption in Slovenia on the eve of its accession to the EU. A consistently negative example to citizens by corrupt politicians can have devastating consequences. The disservice these people are doing to their country is inestimable. Corrupt politics, corrupt nation, corrupt soul."

Note: JUST Response published this appeal on March 24 2004.