Remember Petition 571? A group of journos went wailing to the international community about the media onslaught Janez Janša and his government undertook during their tenure and PM Janša was really unhappy about it, saying that allegations of political influence over the media (the said petition) and human rights abuses (the Roma family Strojan and the Erased) should be dealt with on domestic scene as not to mar Slovenia’s reputation just prior to its taking over the EU presidency.
Part of what SDS was sending around the world
While SDS and its leader went apeshit when someone was dissing the family on their watch, they were happy to do it when it was their turn to sit in the back of the classroom (i.e.: lose the 2008 elections).
And they seem to have acquired a bit of a taste for it. Either that or some rights are more human than others as far as SDS is concerned. Because in the past few days this leading opposition party made a big show of tearing apart the nomination of Branko Masleša for President of the Supreme Court (not to be confused with the Constitutional Court). SDS went after Masleša for a number or reasons and saw it fit to go international with the story. And then some. And then some more.
In case you don’t want to sift through everything SDS threw at Masleša (although I strongly urge you to do so. Is a fun read. And is in English), here’s the basic beef: Masleša is unfit for President of Supreme Court because he:
a) Was the last Slovenian judge in Slovenia to sentence someone to death.
b) Took part in secret committees which inspected shootings of defectors across Yugoslav – Italian border as late as 1989.
c) SDS suspects he was opposed to Slovenian independence and allegedly claimed Yugoslav army will run Slovenia over.
Masleša in turn responded (Slovenian only), saying that:
a) Death penalty was legal in mid 80s and that it was a case of multiple homicide and that the sentence was commuted to a 20-year-imprisonment.
b) Those committees were not secret at all and that he was required to attend them as a judge at the District court in the border town of Nova Gorica.
c) Allegations of his “lukewarmness in the cause of independence” are false.
Now, pengovsky agrees that human rights are important. No. Scratch that. They are an infinitely important element of any society which even remotely wants to call itself democratic. And if SDS has a beef with human rights record of a candidate they have a duty to voice them. But it looks as if the issue is being abused for a tangible political goal which is only remotely connected to any (if any) human rights violations.
On one hand it’s bad form according to SDS and Mr. Janša to tell the world about how media is being pressured, how Roma people are being persecuted and how more than 20k people have no legal status whatsoever, but on the other mere allegations and suspicions are reason enough to sound the international general alarm thrice over. Secondly, it is more than just slightly worrying that a revolutionary mindset is being applied two decades after independence was achieved (and achieved it was with political, legal and military means). I mean “actively opposing Slovenian independence”? What is this? A search for the “enemy within?” The KGB was mighty good at that, you know…
But what is most bothersome is that thus far these allegations were not substantiated by anything other than more allegations by some of Masleša’s fellow judges (and a constitutional judge to boot). Which is more indicative of some seriously hurt egos rather than a systemic and continuous violation of human rights, the likes of which we’ve seen in the case of the Strojan Family and the Erased.
But since the power to nominate the President of the Supreme court lies with the Minister of Justice – in this case LDS’s very own Aleš Zalar (recently of Twitter fame) – the whole thing obviously has a huge political angle. Zalar already crashed and burned with his previous nominee for this post, as Marko Šorli did not get support of the parliament, which caused quite a few waves within the coalition. Secondly, the minister is for some time now pursuing ways to replace
Attorney Prosecutor General Barbara Brezigar which is both dividing the coalition as well as freezing blood of some top SDS people. And lastly, prior to his entry into politics, Zalar was a highly profiled president of the Ljubljana District Court and reportedly stepped on about as many toes within the judiciary as possible (and took some ego bruising himself).
Which is why it comes as no surprise that SDS today in the afternoon started making noises about calling an extraordinary session of the parliament or even submit an interpelation against minister Zalar. Which is a classic manoeuvre. First you stir enough shit, then claim the whole issue is so unclear that extraordinary measures must be applied. All the while (ab)using human rights as a pretext. This will get dirtier by the day.