Members of the European Parliament, but also the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, expressed their concern about the situation of media in Moldova during the debates that took place on Thursday, 5 July, in Strasbourg, with respect to the political situation in the Republic of Moldova after the invalidation of the new election in Chisinau.
The resolution voted by the MEPs draws attention to the media situation, and media representatives confirm that they are struggling with big issues and that the situation has worsened over the last years.
The European Parliament Resolution highlights these issues, also making reference to a UN report in this regard. The Resolution emphasises that
‘According to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, in Moldova human rights defenders and journalists are victims of stigmatisation campaigns and face politically motivated criminal charges or are threatened whenever they defend people with dissenting voices, while journalists’ access to information is restricted’
The concerns expressed by the European officials and by the UN Rapporteur are confirmed by the representatives of independent media outlets. Alina Radu, director of ‘Ziarul de Gardă’ (ZdG) newspaper, told Media-azi.md that journalists cannot do freely their job in the Republic of Moldova, and often their work is criticised by the authorities.
‘There are many questions about the freedom to do our job, access to information, but also cases of attacks against the media, cases of harassment in court, harassment on the internet. For its investigations, ZdG has also been the target of furious attacks coming from the Prime Minister Pavel Filip, and, more recently, also coming from Andrian Candu, Parliament Speaker. On the other hand, authorities do not react to our and other media outlets’ investigations with actions that would lead to the punishment of corruption acts’, said the ZDG director for Media-azi.md.
According to the journalist, the situation of free media has worsened over the last years.
‘It has become very difficult to access information; our requests for information are rejected. We are forced to write hundreds of letters. The cost of access to information has increased enormously – databases are accessed against payment and the price has increased greatly. Media outlets are attacked more and more; the access to information is increasingly limited and the cost of disseminating the press is high. The politically-affiliated journalism is doing well, while free media has neither access to advertising, nor to other funding possibilities’, stated Alina Radu.
Local media journalists also complain of the inadequate conditions under which they work. In the opinion of Ion Ciumeică, editor-in-chief of ‘Gazeta de Sud’ weekly newspaper from Cimislia,
‘Independent media should feel the support of the state, as in civilized countries, because it is a very important source of democratic development of a country’. Access to information is an issue with which the publication he leads has been struggling for years. ‘We have been monitoring the public procurements made by Cimislia Mayor’s Office and by the Rayon Council and there were cases when our access to information was hampered’ said Ion Ciumeica.
Vadim Sterbate, journalist of ‘Observatorul de Nord’ from Soroca, also states that he faced cases when he requested information from central institutions, but he never received it.
‘Journalists must always be allowed to do their job freely’, declared Federica Mogherini during the debates on the political situation in Moldova following the invalidation of the new elections in the country’s capital city. The European official added that the European Union will strengthen its efforts to develop free media in the Republic of Moldova, as well as in the other countries of the Eastern Partnership.
The article was republished from Media Azi, the web portal of the Independent Journalism Center (IJC) in Chisinau, Moldova, a SEENPM member organization.