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Chronology of the “We want access into the Parliament!” Campaign: MPs needed 705 Days to decide on allowing Journalists free access to plenary Meetings

15 April 2016
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On April 14, 2016, cameramen and reporters took their places in the meeting room. It took two years of protests by the civil society and journalists for MPs to allow mass media access to Parliament’s plenary meetings. Here is the chronology of the main actions taken in this period by media organizations and media representatives, as well as of the main pretexts and “counter-arguments” invoked by MPs.

May 8, 2014

The Independent Journalism Center (IJC) initiated the “We want access into the Parliament!” campaign by inviting journalists to a flashmob under the slogan “Corrals are for sheep, not for us!” The event took place in front of the Parliament building. Participants signed a petition, asking MPs not to restrict their access to information.

October 16, 2014

The IJC organized a round table, raising the issue of media access to Parliament’s meetings. “Even if MPs are intensely working on the election campaign and journalists are less interested in this issue, we will still make a portfolio with our actions, which we will propose to MPs in the new Parliament in the hope that they will show more openness and will not invent various pretexts so as not to solve the problem of mass media access to the Parliament’s meeting room,” said IJC executive director Nadine Gogu. Parliament representatives were also invited to the event, but only the deputy chairperson of the parliamentary commission for mass media Corina Fusu, who is an MP of the Liberal Party, answered the invitation.

November 6, 2014

The problem was included into the agenda of the IJC Press Club. Journalists Dorin Scobioala and Dumitru Ciorici, who were invited to the club, underlined that “it is unacceptable for the Parliament’s meeting room not to have access for the media.” Another guest, lawyer Vitalie Zama, spoke in support of representatives of the media: “Journalists should insist, remind MPs about these promises as often as possible, so as to create pressure from the public opinion,” Vitalie Zama said.

February 9, 2015

The IJC launched a video, in which several journalists asked their right to freely do their job in the Parliament be respected, arguing that press freedom implies free access of journalists to information.

March 4, 2015

The Media Azi portal of the IJC started a media campaign in which media experts and journalists shared their opinions about the working conditions of the journalists accredited to the Parliament and about the need to ensure more transparency of MPs. Participants of the campaign were Lina Grau (Free Europe radio), Mihai Turcanu (Evenimentul Zilei newspaper), Maia Visterniceanu (Realitatea TV), Speranta State (Pro TV Chisinau), Nadea Roscovanu (Jurnal de Chisinau newspaper), Eduard Maciac (Radio Moldova), Anisoara Loghin (Pro TV Chisinau), Cornelia Cozonac (Center of Journalistic Investigations), Anastasia Nani (Anticoruptie.md), etc. All participants asked the Parliament to solve the problem without delay.

May 4-8, 2015

During Press Freedom Days, the IJC collected signatures for the second petition, in which signatories reminded the country leadership that restriction of the media access to the Parliament’s plenary meetings, as well as journalists accredited to the Parliament working in a room without proper working conditions, is a violation of the right of expression, right to work, and of the principle of transparency in decision making.

October 27, 2015

The issue was discussed at the Mass Media Forum in Moldova. Parliament speaker Andrian Candu said at the event that “it wasn’t an easy decision” [not to allow journalists access to plenary meetings], but that MPs were willing to improve working conditions for the journalists accredited to the Parliament, for example by offering them coffee or parking spots for bicycles.

February 25, 2016

The IJC resumed the “We want access into the Parliament!” campaign in order to raise MPs’ awareness on restriction of journalists’ access to plenary meetings. Because back in 2014 an MP said in the plenum of the Parliament that to solve this issue it was necessary to “move some cables,” the IJC resumed its protests in front of the Parliament building with the following message: “If lack of cable is to blame, the Independent Journalism Center will give you 15 meters of cable in order to solve the problem.” The IJC message and the 15 meters of cable were sent to the Parliament’s secretariat.

March 3, 2016

A novel protest took place at the Parliament: Several representatives of the civil society and of the media entered the meeting room, asking MPs to ensure free access of accredited journalists (reporters and cameramen) to plenary meetings. An emergency meeting of the Permanent Bureau was convened, which decided to create a joint commission with the participation of representatives of the Parliament, civil society, and the media, which was to find technical solutions for access of the media to the Parliament.

March 9, 2016

The working group for ensuring access of the media to the Parliament’s meeting room gathered for its first meeting. Representatives of the civil society, the media, and the Parliament participated in discussions. The commission, created a week earlier, examined technical solutions: provision of a special area in the meeting room, placement of several cameras, maintenance of live broadcasts, etc.

March 16, 2016

The Parliament’s Deputy Speaker Liliana Palihovici told the media after a meeting of the Permanent Bureau that “in principle” the space had been identified, accepted, and cameramen could have access to the meeting room. MPs asked journalists to make proposals on modifying accreditation rules, which at the time did not allow cameramen access to the plenary meeting room.

March 29, 2016

The Independent Journalism Center sent a new petition, this time addressed to the Parliament, the Presidential Administration, and the Government. Signatories reminded country leadership: restriction of cameramen access to plenary Parliament meetings is a violation of the right to freedom of expression, of the right to work, and of the principle of transparency in decision making.

April 13, 2016

The Permanent Bureau accepted all proposals and recommendations that the civil society and the media formulated after discussions within joint working group and allowed cameramen access to the Parliament’s meeting room. Thus, the Parliament needed 705 days (from May 8, 2014 to April 13, 2016) to solve the problem of free access of the media to plenary meetings. It should be noted that an MP’s term in office is four years.

During the past two years, the Independent Journalism Center organized protests in front of the Parliament building on the days of plenary meetings, every time setting up a fence, the “press corral,” as a symbol of restriction of access to information, which accompanied all protests within the “We want access into the Parliament!” campaign.