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Media NGOs Call for the Elimination of Abuse during the State of Emergency

24 March 2020
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Media NGOs request the Moldovan authorities not to admit abuse against the freedom of expression and to apply disproportionate restrictions, according to the special conditions of the state of emergency.
On Friday, 20 March, the Security and Intelligence Service (SIS) ordered to block 52 sites that distribute mainly fake news, making reference to the state of emergency declared due to the spread of Covid-19. As regards this case, media NGOs warn the authorities that international organizations such as OSCE and Freedom House were worried after the authorities from other countries announced similar measures.
The joint declaration launched by the UN, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the OSCE Representative on Freedom of Expression states that measures aimed to eliminate the content should be taken ‘only if standards of necessity and proportionality are observed’. The declaration also states the following: ‘Any attempts to criminalise information relating to the pandemic may create distrust in institutional information, delay access to reliable information and have a chilling effect on freedom of expression’.
We urge the authorities to develop and implement  clear and transparent decision making mechanisms in such situations, in order to exclude possible abuse and the restriction of the constitutional rights of citizens to receive information and journalists' right to freedom of expression, right to search, receive and disseminate information of public interest.
Thus, we draw the attention of the Moldovan authorities that although a state of emergency was declared, any measure taken must be legal, absolutely necessary and proportionate to the interest pursued. 
Independent Journalism Center
Association of Independent Press
Association of Electronic Press
Center for Investigative Journalism
Press Freedom Committee 
Association of Independent TV Journalists
RISE Moldova
‘Access-info’ Center