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Are there new rules on journalists' access to the Chisinau District Court?

06 July 2018
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The journalists’ access to the Chisinau District Court has become again a topic for discussion after the court vice-president, Ghenadie Pavliuc, signed a resolution in this regard. 
The document, by means of which the court's administration aims to strengthen the security system within the court premises, relates to judges, other court staff, prosecutors, lawyers, police officers, parties to lawsuits, but also envisages reporters. 

The document states, among other things, that the access of press ‘accredited by the Broadcasting Coordination Council’ (the Council does not have the legal power to accredit the press – editor’s note), as well as of other people that want to attend the public court hearings will be provided depending on the available place in courtrooms. At the same time, according to this document, journalists are obliged to present the identity card or, as the case may be, another document confirming their identity. In addition, the names and surnames of those willing to attend the proceedings are recorded in a special register that stays, kept by the guards. 

Prosecutors, lawyers and police officers present work permits, while judges and clerks enter by using special access cards.
‘This resolution raises multiple questions, since it makes reference to confusing provisions. In fact, there is an overall tendency of unjustified limitation of media and other stakeholders’ access to the court hearings that are of public interest. This happens though similar rules adopted previously by the Superior Council of Magistracy had been criticised by the civil society’, commended Ion Guzun, legal advisor at the Legal Resource Center.

‘I really do not see any obstruction of the access to court. Journalists can enter by showing their credentials. No abuse has been reported so far. This provision was necessary because security guards encounter difficulties when people entering the court premises have to identify themselves’, explained the judge Ghenadie Pavliuc.
The decree was issued on 20 June, the day when media outlets disapproved, in a joint statement, the restriction of access to the court hearing on the validation of the new local elections in Chisinau.

In November 2016, the Superior Council of Magistracy annulled its own Regulation on Access to Courts, published in the Official Gazette on 21 October. The Regulation provided for a number of restrictions, especially for journalists, and they were qualified as being