By: Sara Kovač (Nova24tv.si)
After Robert Golob’s government initiated a suspension of all misdemeanour proceedings against individuals for violations at unreported and violent rallies during the COVID-19 epidemic, it instituted criminal proceedings against a reported protest rally of professional firefighters who point to wage disparities and insufficient wages for firefighters. For this reason, MP Žan Mahnič decided to address a written parliamentary initiative to the government to stop the misdemeanour proceedings due to the gathering of professional firefighters.
According to reports appearing in the public, the Ljubljana Police Administration is conducting several misdemeanour proceedings due to the rally of professional firefighters, which took place on February 16th this year, where professional firefighters demanded higher wages and the elimination of wage disparities.
The Ljubljana Police Station confirms that it was a reported rally. At the same time, according to the words of Žan Mahnič, they state that they detected a suspected violation of the Act on Public Gatherings. “The police are now investigating whether the organiser held the rally contrary to the announced programme and is conducting misdemeanour proceedings against those who brought objects or substances to the rally that are not allowed to be brought to the rally.”
According to Mahnič, the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia guarantees and at the same time protects freedom of movement and the right to assemble and gather. “The fact is that they form an important but at the same time vulnerable part of human rights and freedoms, which demand respect and commitment from every democratic country. In connection with the right to free expression, they often also show the level of democracy or the level of maturity of an individual society”, he pointed out and reminded that they themselves pointed to this in the years 2020-2022, when there were protests, some of which also turned into violence.
Mahnič pointed out that in the coalition’s work programme 2022-2026, in chapter 5. Rule of law among priorities and goals, it is possible to read that all misdemeanour proceedings initiated against individuals due to violations of measures against COVID-19 will be abandoned. “You will pay special attention to protecting the right to protest and public expression of opinion. The state must abandon all misdemeanour and criminal proceedings related to public expression of opinion and public assembly.”
Protesters also openly called for death
Continuing the initiative, the MP recalled what happened at unannounced rallies during the COVID-19 epidemic. In June 2020, due to calls for violence, there were already clashes with police officers guarding the National Assembly. Members of the radical left-wing organisation Antifa, dressed in black with their faces covered, who attended the protest in large numbers, shouted “You are watching out fascists!” and attacked police officers. “Because some protesters did not want to obey the police’s orders by jumping over and knocking down the security fence, they were arrested and brought to the police station. Among them the son of the Supreme State Prosecutor Jaša Jenull.” A month later, the protesters made a doll representing the then Prime Minister Janez Janša. Mahnič reminded that they put on a show because, following the example of Islamic countries where Sharia law applies, they threw paper stones at the doll to illustrate stoning. “During the events, it was possible to hear protest cries of ‘for truth and solidarity’, ‘he is escaping, but he cannot escape’, ‘we will win only with perseverance’. Jenull, of course, was once again the main leader and commentator of the events.”
The hostility of Ludvik Tomšič, who called for the immediate murder of the former Prime Minister with the words “Kill Janša”, stood out in particular. The protestors especially showed respect for their behaviour on National Day, when they organised their own anti-celebration, he recalled. “At times the events were downright vulgar – we witnessed the display of genitals, the worship of totalitarian symbols, and the singing of songs in foreign languages. The whole thing was supported with their participation by members of the extreme Levica and LMŠ parties, now affiliated with the Gibanje Svoboda party. At the same time, the honour guards whistled and called the members traitors.”
According to Mahnič, the current government or the Ministry of the Interior withdrew its consent at the end of June 2022 for the first lawsuits filed against individuals related to claims for the reimbursement of police costs at unannounced gatherings in the past two years. “With this, the state body has recognised the violation of regulations as a legitimate act, and the costs of protection will be covered by all taxpayers. Moreover, the Minister of Justice Dr Dominika Švarc Pipan announced the introduction of a law that would stop all misdemeanours during the epidemic, enable the deletion of misdemeanours from records and the reimbursement of the costs of fines and the costs of procedures”, he added critically.
Mahnič calls for the abandonment of procedures for professional firefighters
“In the above-mentioned case, when the professional firefighters publicly expressed their opinion at a registered protest rally and submitted a request for higher wages and the elimination of wage disparities, the Police, a body within the Ministry of the Interior, deals with the public expression of the opinions of the professional firefighters, which was reported, as a misdemeanour,” Mahnič pointed out and added that, in view of the above, he is giving the government the initiative to, similar to the misdemeanour proceedings that were initiated against individuals for violating the measures against COVID-19 and later abandoned, to also abandon the misdemeanour proceedings for professional firefighters, which were introduced after the assembly on February 16th, 2023.