Index on Censorship condemns the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak in Slovakia — just months after the killing of Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta. Kuciak was known for his investigations on tax fraud among businessmen connected to the country’s ruling party. He and his girlfriend were reported to have been shot dead at his home over the weekend, news website Dennik N reported on Monday, citing the Interior Ministry.
The murders raise troubling questions about the safety of media professionals in the European Union, says Index.
“A thorough and transparent investigation into the murder of Jan Kuciak is extremely important. Index calls on the European Union to ensure that an independent investigation takes place and that the legal process meets international standards” Index’s head of advocacy Joy Hyvarinen said. “Investigative journalism is vital to healthy democracies. In 2017, Index on Censorship’s Mapping Media Freedom platform documented 67 cases in which journalists were targeted with threats, violence and death for reporting on corruption.”
Corruption is becoming a major issue in the EU and neighbouring countries, undermining democracy and putting individuals at risk. Journalists play a key role in uncovering and fighting corruption through their investigations and, as a result, put themselves in danger.
On 16 October the Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered when the car she was driving exploded. Caruana Galizia published a number of articles on her blog investigating corruption.
“We need to stop behaving as if threats to journalists’ safety happen ‘somewhere else,’” said Index on Censorship CEO Jodie Ginsberg. “Prominent journalists in the United States get regular death threats – and are becoming used to it as part of their daily lives. Meanwhile, in the European Union two investigative journalists have been killed in less than six months. We need to wake up to this growing menace.”
On 16 August, Parim Olluri, editor-in-chief of investigative website Insajderi, was physically assaulted by unknown individuals outside his home in Kosovo’s capital Pristina. Olluri believes the attack was linked to his work. A few days before the assault, Olluri had published an editorial about corruption allegations against former Kosovo Liberation Army commanders, after which he received a torrent of abuse and threats on social media.
Failure to properly investigate cases and bring perpetrators to justice fosters an atmosphere encouraging further attacks.