Platform commends Slovak President’s veto against controversial amendment of Act on the Nation’s Memory Institute

Prague / Bratislava, 4 October 2017. The Platform of European Memory and Conscience commends yesterday’s veto by Slovak President Andrej Kiska of a controversial amendment to the Act on the Nation’s Memory Institute, which would enable an immediate firing of its acting head without sufficient justification or possibility of legal redress. The Institute is in the news because of its legal dispute with Czech politician and oligarch Andrej Babiš about his collaboration with the Communist State security.

The controversial amendment to the Act on the Nation’s Memory Institute was adopted by the Slovak Parliament in September 2017. As President Kiska points out, in an unprecedented legal move, the powers of the acting head of the Institute would be transferred to a 9-member collective body, which raises questions about the functionality of the memory institution from then on.

The Platform had sent a letter to the Speaker of the Slovak Parliament in August 2017, protesting the amendment. In its original wording, the legislation had set the date for the dismissal of the acting head of the Institute for 15 October 2017.

Since the establishment of our Platform in 2011, we have witnessed various approaches aimed at weakening the position and the important work of memory institutions in different countries. However, this case stands out. May we point out that it is not in accordance with democratic customs or the rule of law to adopt a piece of legislation directed against one particular person,” wrote Platform President Göran Lindblad in August. He says today: “We commend President Kiska for stopping a dangerous precedent.”

Next week, the Slovak Constitutional Court is set to pass a ruling which could return to lower courts the dispute between Czech politician Andrej Babiš and the Nation’s Memory Institute about the trustworthiness of archival records documenting his activities as an agent of the Czechoslovak Communist state security.