January 4, 2021

2 July 2019: Moldovan authorities need to act as the safety of journalists is threatened

In the last month, the number of cases of assaults against journalists in the Republic of Moldova has been staggering and follows a troubling trend of harassment in recent years

Media and free expression NGOs around the globe condemn the assaults, intimidations and violent actions taken against at least 16 journalists during the protests and surrounding events of 7-9 June 2019 organized at Chisinau by the Democratic Party of Moldova. Over the three-day period, several media outlets published video materials broadcasting assaults against their reporters while they were in the field to document the events and inform citizens.

In one example, TV 8 reporter, Sergiu Niculita, and a cameraman were assaulted, their camera obstructed, and their microphone struck; a protester also extinguished a cigarette on the microphone sponge and damaged it. Another reporter from UNIMEDIA was assaulted and intimidated by the bodyguard of top democratic leaders, and members of the State Protection and Guarding Service when she attempted to ask the leaders of the Democratic Party questions. These are two examples of several attacks that took place during the aforementioned timeframe. Following these incidents, both Reporters without Borders and the OSCE Media Freedom Representative issued condemnations and called for action.

These intimidation tactics are part of a broader trend of harassment towards journalists over the last two years. As noted in the Independent Journalist Center (IJC)’s 2018, Moldovan Press Status Index, verbal assaults and threats against journalists continue to increase around the country, often met with a weak response, or complete lack thereof, from law enforcement bodies (pg. 50).

Our position on such attacks is unequivocal: We strongly condemn any form of verbal assault or violence against journalists.

We remind those involved that any violent behaviour against the media is a serious breach of the rights of journalists enshrined in Moldovan law. Article 20 of Moldova’s Law on Press states that journalists are guaranteed the freedom to receive and share information through media, to make audiovisual recordings, to take pictures, and to attend rallies, demonstrations and all other kind of public manifestations.

According to Article 180 of the Criminal Code, intimidation of the media or journalists in can be subject to criminal liability. The State also guarantees the defense of honor and dignity of a journalist and protects his or her health, life and property through Article 20(3) of the Law on Press.

We, the undersigned, therefore urge the international community, including international press outlets, local embassies in the Republic of Moldova, and relevant international institutions to take note of the cases attached below, and call on them to demand that authorities ensure the safety and security of journalists in the country, while investigating instances of aggression towards them.

ActiveWatch – Media Monitoring Agency
Adil Soz – International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI)
Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR)
Center for Media Studies & Peace Building (CEMESP)
Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
Free Media Movement
Independent Journalism Center (IJC)
Index on Censorship
Initiative for Freedom of Expression – Turkey
Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
Media Rights Agenda (MRA)
Mediacentar Sarajevo
Pacific Islands News Association (PINA)
Pakistan Press Foundation
PEN America
PEN International
Public Association “Journalists”
Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
South East Europe Media Organisation
South East European Network for Professionalization of Media (SEENPM)
Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM)
Vigilance for Democracy and the Civic State