Mass Protests Erupt in Slovakia Against Government’s Alleged Soft Stance on Corruption

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Thousands of citizens took to the streets of Slovakia to protest against what they perceive as the government’s leniency towards corruption. The demonstrations were sparked by Prime Minister Robert Fico’s proposed amendments to the penal code, which include reducing punishments for corruption, potentially shortening suspended sentences, and altering the statute of limitations.

Concerns Over Abolition of Special Prosecutor’s Office

One of the key points of contention is Fico’s plan to abolish the special prosecutor’s office, responsible for combating major crime and corruption. Critics argue that this move could undermine efforts to tackle corruption effectively within the country. The protests outside Slovakia’s Parliament coincided with the conclusion of a debate on various proposed changes to the penal code.

Controversial Reforms Amid Corruption Allegations

The government’s proposed reforms come at a time when several individuals linked to the prime minister’s party are facing prosecution for their involvement in corruption scandals. The planned changes, which aim to mitigate penalties for corruption and significantly shorten the statute of limitations, have drawn criticism from European Union bodies concerned about the rule of law in Slovakia.

Fast-Track Approval Raises Eyebrows

The coalition government led by Fico pushed for a fast-track parliamentary procedure to approve the changes, bypassing the usual review process by experts and stakeholders. Additionally, the coalition limited the time allotted for parliamentary debate, raising concerns about transparency and democratic oversight.

Uncertain Future and International Scrutiny

The widespread protests against the proposed amendments to the penal code signal growing public discontent with the government’s perceived handling of corruption issues. President Zuzana Čaputová has expressed her readiness to veto the amendment and challenge it constitutionally if the ruling coalition attempts to bypass her veto. Opposition parties are also gearing up to challenge the move, while international observers fear Slovakia may veer towards an authoritarian, EU-sceptic path similar to Hungary under Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

SOURCE: Ref Image from Reuters

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