Back to top

Corruption kills: Ján Kuciak murdered in Slovakia

Journaist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée were murdered in their home in Slovakia (at the bottom of the 1st quartile) in February.[1] Kuciak was investigating links between the ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate and top Slovak politicians. He is the first journalist to be murdered for their work in Slovakia since it became an independent country in 1990.[2]

Tens of thousands took to the streets in Bratislava, and ultimately the country’s Prime Minister, Robert Fico, resigned from office early in the year. Fico allegedly had links to some of the individuals Kuciak had investigated. Though there were arrests in September and three were charged, concerns were voiced about political meddling in the police investigation.[3]

Figure 27: 

This response stands in stark contrast to that in Malta after the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat – one of many politicians implicated in the Caruana Galizia investigations – is still in office, and members of the political establishment are suing Caruana Galizia, posthumously, for defamation.[4]

Criminal defamation was decriminalised in Malta in June, leaving only civil measures available. While this decriminalisation is a key step, Malta’s civil law on defamation still fails to meet human rights standards.[5]

Corruption is closely bound up with the mafia and organised crime, which pose severe threats to journalists’ lives. Italian police saved Paolo Borrometi from an attempted murder by Sicilian mafia in May 2018.[6] More than 20 journalists have police protection in Italy.



[1] ARTICLE 19, Slovakia: Murder of Investigative Journalist, Ján Kuciak, and His Fiancée Must Be Thoroughly Investigated, 26 February 2018, available at

[2] International Press Institute, Six Months Later, Ján Kuciak’s Killers Still Enjoy Impunity, 20 August 2018, available at

[3] South East European Network for the Professionalisation of Media, Slovakia: Concern About Political Meddling in Year-Old Kuciak Murder Investigation, 18 February 2018, available at

[4] Caroline Muscat, ‘Reporters Without Borders witness proceedings in 24 libel cases against Daphne Caruana Galizia’, The Shift, 2 August 2018, available at

[5] Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe, OSCE Representative Welcomes Decriminalization of Defamation in Malta, Urges Dismissal of Civil Defamation Lawsuits Against Caruana Galizia’s Heirs, 15 May 2018, available at

[6] Reporters without Borders, Sicilian Mafia Planned to Murder Investigative Reporter, 30 April 2018, available at