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About the press access to the Parliament in a new Press Club meeting

10 November 2014
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An actual problem of Moldovan journalists, namely: the press access to the plenary hall of the Parliament was discussed in a Press Club meeting organized by IJC on November 6, 2014. The event was organized with the support of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) as part of the FHI 360 project “Moldova Partnerships for Sustainable Civil Society”.

Both the speakers and the participants in the Press Club agreed that the restriction of the media access to the Parliament is a stringent problem not only for the press, but for the whole society, as in this way the citizens’ right to information on subjects of public interest is violated.

Tatiana Corai, editor of the Media-azi portal, who moderated the event, highlighted the fact that in this case we deal with a hidden form of censorship, in a society that pretends to be democratic. “Although the deputies switched the speech to a “decadent” terrain, motivating that the presence of the journalists and cameras would disturb them from their work, society needs to understand that press is an institution in the public service, and limiting the journalists’ access to the Parliament actually means to limit the citizens’ right to information.”

Dorin Scobioală, Reuters Television correspondent in Moldova, mentioned that the problem of press access to the Parliament was created artificially, after renovating the building, destroyed in 2009.  “It’s a wrong reconstruction, it is not allowable that in a Parliament’s meeting hall the press access is not provided. The lodge that used to be designed for the press was blocked. It’s a real barbarism what is happening. Many times, the 50 square meters space in the press room is insufficient, comparing to the total number of journalists. They need to make transmissions, to edit texts and to record sounds, all, at the same time and in the same room.”

In this context, it was specified that several representatives of the diplomatic missions and foreign officials alerted the Moldovan authorities about the serious violations brought by the restriction of the press access to the Parliament, but, in spite of the promises that were made, the problem was not yet solved.

Talking about the legal aspect of the subject, the lawyer Vitalie Zama mentioned that an eventual suing would solve the problem after a couple of years and a more rapid and efficient solution would be the public opinion pressure and the solidarity of the journalists. “It is a problem of solidarity and congruence of the journalists. If more deputies promised several times that the problem would be solved, journalists need to insist, to remind the deputies as often as possible about these promises, in order to create pressure from the public opinion”, added Vitalie Zama.   

Dumitru Ciorici, editorial director of Unimedia noticed the important role of the media organizations for the promotion of an independent press desideratum and for solving the problems that violate the right of freedom of speech and access to information. “The biggest problem is the fact that most of the local press is controlled by 2-3 politicians. Journalists cannot join for a common cause, while their employers are politically affiliated, being the first ones who require the censorship of images and information transmitted by the media institutions they own”, added D. Ciorici.  The journalist said that if it would be truly desired, then at least the photographers and operators wouldn’t have any physical obstacle regarding the access to the meeting hall of the Parliament. “The access of the journalists in the room is possible, but not desired by the deputies because this would mean that the journalists could see who is working and who is sleeping or navigating on the Internet, which obviously is not an advantage for the deputies.”
 
 
The event was organized as part of the Advocacy Campaigns Aimed at Improving Transparency of Media Ownership, Access to Information and promotion of EU values and integration project, implemented by the IJC, which is, in its turn, part of the Moldova Partnerships for Sustainable Civil Society project, implemented by FHI 360.

 The organization of this event became possible due to the generous support of the American people, offered through the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The opinions expressed at the event belong to participants and might not reflect the position of the USAID or the US Government.