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)
Pacific Islands News Association (PINA)
Pakistan Press Foundation
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)
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Moldova’s Prosecutor General Office has dropped criminal proceedings against the people accused of using social networking websites to organise violent street protests in Chisinau in April, following the ppposition protest against the results of the parliamentary election.
The key suspects were journalists Natalia Morar, Oleg Bregha, and Gabriel Stati, the son of one of Moldova’s richest businessman. Morar has admitted using Twitter after the controversial 5 April parliamentary elections, but said she never intended for violence to occur and is not responsible for those actions.
Thousands of people took part in the protests organised by the opposition parties, who came to power after a second poll in July.
Read more here
A major new global ranking index tracking the state of free expression published today (Wednesday, 25 January) by Index on Censorship sees the UK ranked as only “partially open” in every key area measured.
In the overall rankings, the UK fell below countries including Australia, Israel, Costa Rica, Chile, Jamaica and Japan. European neighbours such as Austria, Belgium, France, Germany and Denmark also all rank higher than the UK.
The Index Index, developed by Index on Censorship and experts in machine learning and journalism at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), uses innovative machine learning techniques to map the free expression landscape across the globe, giving a country-by-country view of the state of free expression across academic, digital and media/press freedoms.
Key findings include:
The countries with the highest ranking (“open”) on the overall Index are clustered around western Europe and Australasia – Australia, Austria, Belgium, Costa Rica, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland.
The UK and USA join countries such as Botswana, Czechia, Greece, Moldova, Panama, Romania, South Africa and Tunisia ranked as “partially open”.
The poorest performing countries across all metrics, ranked as “closed”, are Bahrain, Belarus, Burma/Myanmar, China, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini, Laos, Nicaragua, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, South Sudan, Syria, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
Countries such as China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates performed poorly in the Index Index but are embedded in key international mechanisms including G20 and the UN Security Council.
Ruth Anderson, Index on Censorship CEO, said:
“The launch of the new Index Index is a landmark moment in how we track freedom of expression in key areas across the world. Index on Censorship and the team at Liverpool John Moores University have developed a rankings system that provides a unique insight into the freedom of expression landscape in every country for which data is available.
“The findings of the pilot project are illuminating, surprising and concerning in equal measure. The United Kingdom ranking may well raise some eyebrows, though is not entirely unexpected. Index on Censorship’s recent work on issues as diverse as Chinese Communist Party influence in the art world through to the chilling effect of the UK Government’s Online Safety Bill all point to backward steps for a country that has long viewed itself as a bastion of freedom of expression.
“On a global scale, the Index Index shines a light once again on those countries such as China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates with considerable influence on international bodies and mechanisms – but with barely any protections for freedom of expression across the digital, academic and media spheres.”
Nik Williams, Index on Censorship policy and campaigns officer, said:
“With global threats to free expression growing, developing an accurate country-by-country view of threats to academic, digital and media freedom is the first necessary step towards identifying what needs to change. With gaps in current data sets, it is hoped that future ‘Index Index’ rankings will have further country-level data that can be verified and shared with partners and policy-makers.
“As the ‘Index Index’ grows and develops beyond this pilot year, it will not only map threats to free expression but also where we need to focus our efforts to ensure that academics, artists, writers, journalists, campaigners and civil society do not suffer in silence.”
Steve Harrison, LJMU senior lecturer in journalism, said:
“Journalists need credible and authoritative sources of information to counter the glut of dis-information and downright untruths which we’re being bombarded with these days. The Index Index is one such source, and LJMU is proud to have played our part in developing it.
“We hope it becomes a useful tool for journalists investigating censorship, as well as a learning resource for students. Journalism has been defined as providing information someone, somewhere wants suppressed – the Index Index goes some way to living up to that definition.”