Slovenian oversight institutions want political pressure to end

“Oversight bodies are important for a solid and strong state, which is the basis for successful societal development and must be in everybody’s interest. Politicians, in particular, are responsible for protecting the latter as a key element of the legal order,” they wrote. [EPA-EFE/JOHANNA GERON]

The heads of four independent Slovenian oversight institutions have signed an unprecedented joint statement demanding respect for independent state bodies which they say are being undermined by political pressure and attacks.

The statement, signed by the leaders of the Information Commissioner’s Office, Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, Court of Audit and Human Rights Ombudsman, expressed “grave concern” about pressure by politics on institutions, which is reflected in “direct and coordinated attacks through the media and social networks”.

“Oversight bodies are important for a solid and strong state, which is the basis for successful societal development and must be in everybody’s interest. Politicians, in particular, are responsible for protecting the latter as a key element of the legal order,” they wrote.

Politicians cannot and must not see constitutional rights and independent state bodies as a necessary evil but as a civilisational achievement, they added. “Indecent, unfair, interest-based and foremost ungrounded criticism can shake the foundations of democracy, which is an extremely dangerous activity with long-term negative effects,” the statement said.

The statement was coordinated by Court of Audit President Tomaž Vesel, who has come under fire in recent months over an audit report about the purchases of protective personal equipment in the early stages of the pandemic and his role as chair of FIFA’s Audit and Compliance Committee – which the governing coalition claims are incompatible with his Court of Audit job.

Not all major oversight institutions signed up, however. For example, the Constitutional Court expressly declined to join. (Sebastijan R. Maček | STA)

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