Thursday, April 16, 2009

Protest violations of access to information rights and attacks on journalists following elections

The following is joint action by 25 IFEX members and 10 other organisations:

Declaration of Media Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) on the situation of the press:

The undersigned media NGOs express concern about the degradation of the media situation in Moldova following parliamentary elections on 5 April 2009. This included the violation of the right to access information of public interest, and harassment of journalists.

On Monday, 6 April, the day after parliamentary elections were held, protests erupted when the election results were announced amid claims from opposition parties that the poll had been rigged. Opposition leaders have backed the protests of thousands of people, saying the election result was fraudulent. They condemned the violence, but said the protests would continue. The peaceful protests have now turned into violent confrontations with police forces in many areas.

On 7 April, at least 19 foreign journalists who were trying to travel from Romania to Chisinau were stopped at the border crossings of Galati-Giurgiulesti and Cahul-Oancea, according to Romanian sources. Then on 8 April, a BBC journalist was prevented from entering Moldova. Moldovan customs officials provided varying reasons why the journalists were stopped at the borders, in some cases demanding special medical insurance and accreditation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration (MAEIE) in Chisinau, although normally only a foreign passport is required to cross the border between Romania and Moldova. Moreover, Moldovan legislation stipulates that foreign journalists require accreditation only for access to official information, and only if they wish to be accredited as a permanent correspondent in Moldova.

On the evening of Wednesday, 8 April, several reporters from the investigative newspaper “Ziarul de Garda” were harassed by police officers. Journalists had their arms twisted, and police threatened to destroy their cameras. On the same day, Oleg Brega, a cameraman for the Internet-based Jurnal TV, was beaten by several people in plain clothes who seized two video cameras. Also that night, PRO TV Chisinau cameraman Constantin Rogodantiev was assaulted by police forces behind a government building.

Moreover, on 9 April, Facebook and the social networking website Odnoklassniki.ru became inaccessible to users in Moldova. Also on 8 April, the server of the unimedia.md information portal was attacked several times. Other online resources were inaccessible in Moldova during this period, while at least two broadcasters, Realitatea TV and TVR 1, stopped broadcasting on Moldovan territory. Thus, the public was deprived of important international sources of information.

In these circumstances, the signatory organisations protest vehemently against attacks on journalists by representatives of the law, and demand an immediate end to these abusive and illegal practices, as well as an investigation into these cases to bring to account those responsible for abuses against journalists.

Also, underlying the importance of observing the constitutional right of access to information of citizens through media, Internet and other available means, the signatory organisations call on Moldovan authorities to ensure media freedom under the obligations incumbent to Moldova as a member of the Council of Europe.

Signed,

  • ActiveWatch - Media Monitoring Agency, Romania
  • Adil Soz - International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech, Kazakhstan
  • Albanian Media Institute, Albania
  • Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), Egypt
  • ARTICLE 19, United Kingdom
  • Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM), Serbia
  • Association of Independent Press, Moldova
  • Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Bahrain
  • Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (ABRAJI), Brazil
  • Broadcast Media Association, Moldova
  • Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), Canada
  • Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI)
  • Centre for the Defence and Promotion of Press Freedom in Algeria (CALP), Algeria
  • Center for Independent Journalism (CIJ), Romania
  • Freedom House, United States
  • Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP), Colombia
  • Independent Journalism Center (IJC), Moldova
  • Index on Censorship, United Kingdom
  • Institute for Press and Society (IPYS), Venezuela
  • Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS), Azerbaijan
  • Investigative Journalism Center, Croatia
  • Investigative Journalism Center, Moldova
  • Media Development Center, Bulgaria
  • Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), Australia
  • Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), Namibia
  • Media Rights Agenda, Nigeria
  • Media Watch, Bangladesh
  • Observatoire pour la liberte de presse d’edition et de creation (OLPEC), Tunisia
  • Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF), Pakistan
  • Paraguayan Union of Journalists (SPP), Paraguay
  • Romanian Center for Investigative Journalism, Romania
  • Union of Journalists of Moldova
  • World Association of Newspapers, France
  • World Press Freedom Committee, United States
  • Young Journalist Center of Moldova

April 14, 2009



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