The legal framework needs to be amended to ensure greater protection for journalists who are often the targets of attacks by politicians or their supporters, recommends the Independent Press Association in a study.
“Our call to the state institutions, first of all to the Ministry of Justice and the relevant parliamentary committee, is to evaluate the current legislative framework to see how much protection it provides to journalists who do their jobs in the public interest. And if necessary, and we do believe there is such a necessity, the legislative framework should be amended with certain measures that are clearly specified so that they can be applied”, said Petru Macovei, executive director of API, during a press conference on Friday.
In 2021, at least 68 attacks on the media were signaled, but the authors of the report believe that their number is much higher, because not all journalists report these cases, partly because they think they are part of their job. “There are many cases and the situations from 2021 will be repeated in 2022 as well. Therefore, I reiterate our request to the authorities to evaluate the national legal framework from the perspective of the guarantees that the legislation offers to journalists”, said Petru Macovei.
According to him, the lack of punishment and impunity for those who prevent journalists from exercising their profession and who try to silence the press leads to quite serious consequences. The API director also says that if people, including protesters, are not shown that attacks are punishable, they will pick up on these practices. “Every case of this kind must be investigated and the perpetrators must be punished. Only in this way, journalists in Moldova will have the necessary space and the necessary legal guarantees to carry out their activity in conditions of freedom and lack of various interferences and attacks”, noted Petru Macovei.
The report shows that attacks on journalists in Moldova remain frequent. These include physical attacks and direct threats to the life, freedom and health of media representatives, or cyberattacks, or attacks with the use of legal or economic pressure. The main source of non-physical attacks against journalists were officials and political decision-makers, including Members of Parliament, but also of the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia.
The report was produced in partnership with the London-based Justice for Journalists Foundation.