In capital cities across Europe, and throughout Slovakia, they are lighting candles

by Jane Whyatt

From Facebook’s home town of Palo Alto in Silicon Valley to the little Slovakian village of Martin, people are gathering to remember Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová.

All over the world people protest #AllForJan and for a decent Slovakia The organisers of For a Decent Slovakia. Photo: Za slusne Slovensko

Organised by Za slusne Slovensko (For a decent Slovakia), the demonstrations on 21.2.2019 are being held in memory of the investigative journalist and his fiancée.

Already in the months since the assassinations the civil rights movement has brought hundreds of thousands of people onto the streets. The protests have led to the resignation of former Prime Minister Robert Fico and members of his cabinet, as well as the police chief.

But the organisers have themselves been targeted and intimidated following an anonymous allegation that they were ’planning a coup’. That investigation has now been dropped. 

What continues is the hate campaign by trolls who target the civil rights leaders online and who even verbally attacked one of them, Karolina Farská on the street on 31. January 2019. 

Undaunted, For a Decent Slovakia leaders are spreading their message across the globe. 

One of them is Juraj Seliga, a young lawyer and activist within For Decent Slovakia movement. He told ECPMF about their demands in an interview:

ECPMF: Do you think the police and prosecution are investigating the case adequately, professionally and independently (from political influence)? 

Juraj Seliga: We don’t have any information from the criminal file, all our informations are based on press releases made by investigators. Of course we are satisfied that the persons suspected as murderers/killers are in custody. We know that the team of investigators is one of the biggest teams in Slovak history. But we still don’t know what is the involvement of the international investigators. Or what is the scope of their involvement. 

We would not be satisfied until we know who ordered the murders.

Q: Jan had reported threats. Do you think police officers or the police in general have any responsibility for failing to protect him?

A:Jan’s report (about being threatened) was not processed accurately. We don’t know if any disciplinary action took place. Jan’s report was against Mr. Marian Kocner. However we don’t know if there is connection between Kocner’s threats and Jan’s murder. Nevertheless public opinion, based on his (Kocner’s) connection to the persons who have been taken into the custody, is strongly against Mr. Kocner. If it were the case that Mr. Kocner were to be officially accused in connection with Jan’s murder, it would be also a (sad) confirmation, that the police failed to protect Jan. Especially because of Kocner’s threats to Jan and the police proceedings.

Q:In Malta, family members of Daphne Caruana Galizia are asking the authorities to investigate whether Daphne's life could have been saved. Do you think the same investigation should take place in Slovakia, namely whether Jan Kuciak’s life could have been saved and what lessons could be learned from the loss of his life? 

A:  I agree and strongly support an investigation of police actions in the same way that is happening in Malta. However we will know more when the official criminal petition is submitted to the criminal court.  One of the lessons we need to learn is that we need strong protection of journalists. Especially when they are facing threats. 

Q:As a movement, what are your plans for the future?

A:   We will continue to demand an independent investigation and we will not be satisfied while Jan’s and Martina’s murders remain unpunished. While these persons are (only) the executioners we will continue to demand further investigations until the person or persons who ordered their deaths are brought to justice.

Public actions in remembrance of Ján and Martina will take place in at least 23 towns, cities and villages across the world, including Canada, New Zealand and Australia as well as at least 36 locations across Slovakia itself. Find the full list here.