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Restricting the Journalists’ Access to Plenary Meetings of Parliament Shows that Pro-European Parties Do Not Support Transparency and Free Media

04 March 2015
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Lina Grau, program coordinator at the External Policy Association, freelance journalist for Free Europe Radio

 

When I used to be accredited at Parliament (1998-2011) as a reporter for Free Europe Radio and later as a correspondent of the NewsIn news agency (Bucharest) and the Romania Radio station in Moldova, I always enjoyed free direct access to the meeting hall of Parliament. It is a normal democratic setup.

The conditions in which the journalists are forced to work now are truly humiliating. Things changed after the events on April 7, 2009, when the Parliament meeting hall was vandalized and the reconstruction plan developed (by the Communists) right after that envisaged the delimitation of the space for attending media and placing it outside the meeting hall. In July 2009 the elections were won by what we have been calling for years "pro-European parties", while the Communists lost power. However, the new pro-European leadership that claimed to support the right to the freedom of expression, actually followed through and did eliminate the press from the meeting hall, as the Communists intended, and this is actually the reason why the Communists’ plan has never been revised. It seems that the parties that we considered pro-European do not really want transparency and free media. The journalists lack solidarity, and it happens also because many of them are "fed" by the political leaders that hold seats in Parliament and are paid to report on their activities, which is another issue when it comes to our line of work.

The draft Regulation on Accrediting Media Representatives, which is being reviewed and edited, is another controversial matter. It seems that the draft was prepared by someone who is not aware of the rules by which the media and democracy work. The most disputed provisions are the ones on the criteria for selecting the journalists and the media that will get accreditation. There is room there for interpretation, sympathy or dislike, for personal or political reasons. It is easy to foresee that the media servicing the parties in power and those that are "on good terms" with leadership will be considered equidistant.

That is why the awareness raising events organized by the civil society need to be permanent and need to extend; if no such action is taken the politicians will take their abuses further and further. Also, official appeals to European institutions, as well as to the human rights and media freedom monitoring bodies are need, so that the focus on the issue is kept and it is discussed on every occasion, even if the politicians continue to ignore it.

 

NOTE: The Independent Journalism Center (IJC) holds awareness raising events under the slogan "We Want Access into Parliament!" on all days when Parliament holds plenary meetings. The Campaign aims to ensure free access of the media to Parliament meetings, so that the media can freely perform their duties.

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The We Want into Parliament! campaign is conducted within 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.