Authorities’ reaction to journalistic investigations centering on integrity, study

The authorities reacted to all the 19 journalistic investigations on integrity issues that were published during August 2019 – December 2020. At the moment, of the 19 initiated inspections, ten are ongoing, there are at the preliminary examination stage, while in three cases there were issued punishment decisions. Another two checks initiated by the National Integrity Authority were rejected by the Integrity Inspectorate, while in another case the NIA performed the check before the investigation and issued a document by which it ascertained lack of deviations from the law. The findings are part of the study “Authorities’ reaction to journalistic investigations centering on integrity and corruption” that was carried out by journalists Viorica Zaharia and Victor Moșneag and was presented in an event hosted by the Association of Independent Press (API) and Transparency International Moldova, IPN reports.

Viorica Zaharia said the data show that none of the persons involved in the monitored journalistic investigations, who are suspected of having integrity problems, were promoted to higher posts. One person was dismissed for reasons related to the deeds depicted in the investigation. A person resigned for reasons that are not related to the investigation, while the third person, Igor Dodon, left the post as he was no longer elected. The other subjects featured in the 19 monitored investigations kept the posts.

Compared with the two previous studies conducted in 2017 and 2019, in which the authorities’ reaction to journalistic investigations was documented, the current study shows a more active reaction of the authorities to the investigations monitored in January 2014 – July 2019. As regards resignations, the previous studies documented tree and, restively, zero resignations following the depicted deeds, while the currents study indicated one resignation. The current study also shows a lack of cases of promotion to posts despite the integrity problems signaled by the press, while the previous studies revealed a relatively high number of cases of promotion.

Viorica Zaharia concluded that all the 19 monitored investigations produced reactions in the NIA or other state institutions, this being a result witnessed for the first time since the studies of the reaction of the public authorities were launched. As most of the inspections are ongoing, their efficiency cannot be yet analyzed. Thee of the persons featured in the monitored investigations during the monitoring became subjects of criminal cases. The results continue to point to a particular degree of tolerance of institutions whose employees are featured in journalistic investigations as having integrity problems.

The authors recommend the state institutions to devote increased attention to the journalistic investigations that refer to conflicts of interest, procurement contests involving participants close to functionaries whose property exceeds the declared incomes, to announce the inspections launched following journalistic investigations, to take into account the information collected by journalists and the inspection results when promoting or confirming employees to posts. The parties are recommended to consider the information provided by journalistic investigations about the integrity of candidates when compiling lists for local or parliamentary elections and to withdraw the political support when the lack of integrity of persons is proven by well-grounded journalistic investigations.

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