On Wednesday, the International Press Institute (IPI) joined Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) to pay respects to journalist Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová in Bratislava and demand justice on the sixth anniversary of their murder. To honour their memory, the organizations laid flowers at their memorial, joined by Ján and Martina’s families as well as Slovakia’s president, Zuzana Čaputová. IPI and ECPMF also represented the wider Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) coalition.

Following the memorial, the organizations gathered with the families of Ján and Martina and discussed with them the continued quest for justice. Notably, the Slovak Supreme Court is expected to rule in the coming months on prosecutors’ appeal against a second not-guilty verdict for suspected mastermind Marian Kočner. It is hoped that the Supreme Court will return the case to the first-instance court, with instructions to reconsider the evidence in full. 

Events marking the sombre sixth anniversary of the 2018 murder were further clouded by recent amendments to Slovakia’s Criminal Code that aim, among other things, at the dissolution of the Special Prosecutor’s Office responsible for dealing with the most serious crimes and corruption cases including Kuciak and Kušnírová’s killing. There is widespread fear that the changes could lead to a broad weakening of the rule of law, as well as the potential transfer of Ján and Martina’s case file to a new prosecutor – which could lead to further delays in justice and, in the worst case, cementing impunity. 

Disturbingly, IPI and the coalition are also aware that the families themself have been subjected to online harassment and attempts to cast doubt on their integrity and motivations. 

IPI later joined the public protest demanding justice for Ján and Martina. 

IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen joined ECPMF and RSF in reading a statement underscoring the solidarity of international press freedom organisations with everyone in Slovakia who is fighting for justice in Ján and Martina’s case. 

“We are unwavering in our commitment to work to ensure that everyone responsible for the murders of Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová has been brought to justice”, Griffen said.

This statement is part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States, Candidate Countries, and Ukraine. The project is co-funded by the European Commission.