Defamation remains a criminal offence in Slovenia (punishable with imprisonment).
The Slovenian Criminal Code establishes a number of defamatory , including insult (Art. 158), slander (Art. 159), defamation (Art. 160), calumny (Art. 161) and malicious false accusation of crime (Art. 162). The punishments for all of these offences are increased when committed via media (press, radio, television or other means of public information).
Defamation is defined as “asserting or circulating anything false about another person, capable of causing damage to the honour or reputation of that person”. It is punished with a fine or imprisonment for up to three months. If committed via media, it is punishable by a fine or imprisonment for up to six months. If the slander had “grave consequences” for the offended party, the maximum penalty increases to one year in prison.
Slander is defamation in which the offender knows the statement to be false. It is punished with a fine or imprisonment for up to six months. If committed via media, slander is punished with a fine or imprisonment of up to one year. If the slander had “grave consequences” for the offended party, the maximum penalty increases to two years in prison.
Calumny is defined as asserting or circulating any matter concerning personal or family affairs of another person that is capable of injuring that person’s honour and reputation. It is punished with a fine or imprisonment for up to three months. If committed via media, it is punished with a fine or imprisonment for up to six months. If, by its nature, the act of calumny may result in “grave consequences”, the maximum penalty increases to one year in prison.
Malicious false accusation of crime is an act of calumny in which the assertion consists of falsely accusing someone of a crime “with the intention of exposing that person to scorn”. The penalty is a fine or imprisonment for up to three months. If committed via media, it is punished with a fine or imprisonment of up to six months.
Criminal Defamation of Public Officials
Criminal Defamation of the Head of State
Provisions on the books.
Under Art. 163 of the Slovenian Criminal Code, insult, slander, defamation, calumny or malicious false accusation of crime committed against the President of Slovenia is a criminal offence. The punishment in such cases is a or imprisonment for up to one year.
Criminal Defamation of the State and its Symbols
Provisions on the books.
Under Art. 163 of the Slovenian Criminal Code, insult, slander, defamation, calumny or malicious false accusation of crime committed against the Republic of Slovenia is a criminal offence. The punishment in such cases is a or imprisonment for up to one year.
The same punishment applies to anyone who publicly desecrates the flag, coat-of arms or national anthem of the Republic of Slovenia.
Criminal Defamation of Foreign States and Symbols
Provisions on the books.
Under Art. 164, par. 1 of the Slovenian Criminal Code, insult, slander, defamation, calumny or malicious false accusation of crime committed against a foreign country, its head of state or its diplomatic ambassador a is a criminal offence. The punishment in such cases is a or imprisonment for up to one year.
The same provision applies to such acts committed against the flag, coat of arms or national anthem of a foreign country.
In addition, this provision applies to such acts committed against an international organisation recognised by the Republic of Slovenia or that organisation’s representative or insignia (Art. 164, par. 2).
Criminal Defamation of the Deceased
However, Art. 168, par. 4 states that if insult, slander, defamation, calumny or malicious false accusation of crime is committed against a deceased person, that person’s spouse, extra-marital partner, partner from a registered same-sex civil partnership, children or adopted children, parents or adoptive parents, or brothers or sisters can initiate prosecution.
Prosecution of insult, slander, defamation, calumny or malicious false accusation of crime is undertaken via private prosecution (Slovenian Criminal Code Art. 168).
If the offence is committed against a foreign country, prosecution requires permission of Slovenia’s justice minister.
Statistics on Application
The following data were provided on request to the International Press Institute by the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia.
The data shown here relate to the year 2014 and to the Slovenian Criminal Code KZ-1B, in effect from 2012.
- For Art. 158 (insult), there were 32 convictions, resulting in 17 prison sentences, including 2 unconditional prison sentences, 7 criminal fines, and 8 reprimands.
- For Art. 159 (slander), there were 4 convictions, resulting in 2 criminal fines and 2 reprimands.
- For Art. 160 (defamation), there were 14 convictions, resulting in 5 prison sentences, including one unconditional prison sentence, 7 criminal fines, and 2 reprimands.
- For Art. 161 (slander), there were 3 convictions, resulting in 1 suspended prison sentence, 1 criminal fine, and 1 reprimand.
Additionally, for the year 2014, there are data related to Criminal Code KZ-1, which was used between 2008 and 2012.
- For Art. 158 (insult), there was 1 conviction, resulting in 1 suspended prison sentence.
- For Art. 160 (defamation), there was 1 conviction, resulting in a criminal fine.
With regards to the , Art. 34 guarantees the right “to personal dignity and safety”. Art. 35 guarantees a person’s “physical and mental integrity” and “privacy and personality rights”. Art. 39 protects freedom of expression and the press and states that, except where provided by law, “everyone has the right to obtain information of a public nature in which he has a well founded legal interest under law”.
There are no caps on non-pecuniary damages for defamation under Slovenian law.
Art. 177 of the Obligations Code provides for the compensation of material damages caused by the dissemination of false information if the person who disseminated the information knew or should have known that it was false. Art. 179 provides for compensation for physical or mental distress – independent of any reimbursement of material damage – that was caused by a violation of honour or reputation if the circumstances of the case, particularly the level and duration of distress and fear, justify such compensation. This is true even where there was no material damage.
Art. 178 states that, in the case of violation of a personal right, the court can order the publication of the judgement or a correction, or order the retraction of any statement by which the violation was committed. The court may also take any other steps that would achieve the purpose compensation is intended to accomplish.
Art. 183 allows a legal person to obtain monetary compensation for the defamation of reputation or good name, independent of any reimbursement for material damage, if justified under the circumstances. This is true even where there was no material damage.
None. In practice, the Slovenian courts will seek to balance the right to free expression with the right to reputation.
Note that the Obligations Code provides that a person who disseminated false information about another will not be held liable for material damages if the person was not aware that the information was false and if he or the recipient had a genuine interest in the information’s dissemination (Art. 177, par. 2).
Media Cases and Case Law
In 2011, the District Court of Ljubljana Finnish television YLE and journalist Magnus Berglund to pay damages for libel to former Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa. The case arose from YLE’s 2008 broadcast of an investigative journalism programme, authored by Berglund, alleging that several high-ranking Slovenian officials, including Jansa, accepted bribes in exchange for signing a €270 million contract with Finnish defence contractor Patria. Jansa sued YLE and Berglund, initially asking for €1.5 million in compensation. The District Court concluded that the information in the YLE programme was insufficient to confirm the allegations against Jansa and awarded him €15,000 in compensation from YLE and Berglund. The court also ordered former Slovenian Police Commissioner Bojan Potocnik – who claimed in an interview with Berglund that Jansa had accepted a bribe – to pay €6,500 in damages, and it ordered both YLE and Potocnik to publicly withdraw their statements on Finnish and Slovenian national television. Meanwhile, a corruption investigation into Jansa that prosecutors initiated in September 2010 led to a conviction in 2013 and a two-year prison sentence, which an appeals court in April 2014. Also that month, in a decision that was not yet final at the time this report was written, the Ljubljana District Court Jansa’s claim against YLE and Berglund following a retrial and ordered Jansa to pay nearly €28,000 in litigation costs.
In 2013, a court found blogger and former Slovenian special forces member Mitja Kunstelj guilty of insult and defamation and him to six months in prison over offensive posts on his blog about the private lives of former journalist Spela Predan and journalist and editor Vinko Vasle. The court reportedly handed Kunstelj the prison sentence after he repeatedly stated that he would not pay compensation and would continue to post similar entries on his blog. In an earlier proceeding, Kunstelj had been ordered to pay Predan and Vasle €10,000 in compensation, remove the disputed content from his blog and publish an apology. The court also had barred Kunstelj from posting the statements about Predan and Vasle again or referring to them.
Recent Legal Changes
In July 2015, the Slovenian Parliament amended Art. 168 of the Slovenian Criminal Code on criminal procedure related to the prosecution of defamation. The article was amended to specify that cases of criminal defamation or insult committed against public officials are to be brought by private action rather than by a public prosecutor, as had been the case until now.
Notes and Acknowledgements
Information on defamation laws in Europe was collected by the International Press Institute (IPI) in collaboration with the School of Public Policy’s Center for Media, Data and Society at Central European University in Budapest and their partners at the SHARE Foundation in Belgrade. (Read more about our partners here.)
The information contained in this database is for informational and advocacy purposes only. If you are a journalist facing a defamation claim, you should seek legal advice from a qualified attorney. However, if you are unable to find such an attorney, IPI may be able to assist you in doing so. Please contact us at ipi[at]freemedia.at.
Information on Slovenia was last updated in January 2015.