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A Fresh Protest at the Parliament: Free Access for thePress!

03 March 2016
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On Thursday, March 3, several representatives of the civil society and of the media entered the Parliament’s meeting room, asking for accredited journalists (reporters and cameramen) to have free access to plenary meetings for proper coverage of events.

As part of the action organized by the Independent Journalism Center (IJC), a flash mob took place in front of the Parliament building, where a symbolic fence was set up – the “press corral”. Participants had placards asking MPs to ensure journalists’ access to the meeting room. Later, some of them went to the Parliament’s meeting room, wearing shirts with the words “Free access for the press.” They asked for the Parliament regulations to be modified so as to ensure media representatives’ access to the Parliament’s meeting room. To solve the conflict, an emergency meeting of the Parliament’s Standing Committee was convened, where it was decided to create a mixed commission with the participation of representatives of the Parliament, the civil society, and the media, which shall find technical and legal solutions so as to increase the transparency of the Parliament’s works. The group of protesting journalists and civil society representatives asked for access to the central tribune in order to explain their demands, but this request was not subjected to vote. Journalists left the meeting room while chanting “Shame!” and said they were skeptical that a problem that could not be solved in two years would now be solved in 10 days.

“In the past 2 years we organized several protests, set up the “press corral” in front of the Parliament, collected signatures for several petitions that we sent to the Parliament, and nothing happened. (…) We will participate in this working group, but we are skeptical, because so far the people in government have never proven that they can keep their promises (…). If nothing happens in ten days, we will continue our actions,” said IJC executive director Nadine Gogu.

Participants in the protest asked for the meetings of this working group to include representatives of Moldova’s donors and development partners, “who invest millions of Euros into the development of Moldova. We want people abroad to see our MPs’ will,” said Petru Macovei, director of the Association of Independent Press. He underlined that protests are not backed by any political party, as some MPs tried to insinuate.

In her turn, Alina Radu, director of the “Ziarul de Gardă” newspaper, reminded that “the Parliament is a public institution,” and it is wrong that the media “are offered one single image, made by one director.” “We must demand this right of ours. The Parliament’s representatives are not the ones who should decide what information and images are to reach the public,” Alina Radu concluded.

Media representatives collected signatures in support of a petition asking for free access during the Parliament’s meetings. The petition was signed by journalists, media consumers, and some MPs from the Liberal Democratic Party, the Party of Socialists, the Liberal Party, and the European People’s Party of Moldova.

We shall remind that the IJC initiated the “We want access to the Parliament!” campaign in May 2014 in order to raise MPs’ awareness about restriction of journalists’ access to plenary meetings.