Media NGOs seek withdrawal of Gagauzia's legislative initiative on online media

Media NGOs vehemently condemn the attempts by the Executive Committee of the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia to hinder the professional activity of journalists by establishing arbitrary and abusive mechanisms by which the online media are allowed to work based on an approval from the Gagauz authorities. In a statement, the NGOs demand to immediately withdraw the legislative initiative that flagrantly goes against the Republic of Moldova’s Constitution and the international treaties to which Moldova is a party, IPN reports.

Last week, there were held public consultations that were announced one day before the actual meeting. They were attended mainly by members of the People’s Assembly of ATU Gagauzia and by some of the members of the Executive Committee in Comrat. The legislative initiative was approved by the executive body of ATU Gagauzia on January 4 and implies a series of interventions in the functioning mechanisms of the public audiovisual media service provider Gagauziya Radio Televizionu (GRT) and the creation of a mechanism for authorizing the online media in Gagauzia.

The signatory organizations stress that the introduction of conditions, such as the obtaining of a permissive document from the Gagauz authorities so that the online media can provide information to the public is a violation of the freedom of expression. The provisions of the law drafted by the executive body of Gagauzia go beyond the regulatory object of the Gagauz Law on Broadcasting and runs counter to the state legislation – the Constitution, the Law on the Freedom of Expression, the Law on Electronic Communications, the Law on Regulation by Authorization of Entrepreneurial Activity, as well as international treaties to which the Republic of Moldova is a party.

The media NGOs recognize the need to adjust the Gagauz Law on Broadcasting – a normative document that does not meet the requirements of Directive 2010/13/EU on Audiovisual Media Services – to the requirements set out in the national legislation and also to the international standards. They note that the interventions in the mechanisms regarding the work of GRT activity, which were proposed by the Executive Committee, are irrelevant to the approach to improve the quality of local law. Reducing the quota of broadcasts in the Gagauz language, empowering the technical/financial director to manage GRT or reducing the number of members of the Supervisory Board on the grounds that it is hard to gather so many people together are not pertinent changes that can improve local regulations. 

The signatory NGOs condemn the attempts by the Gagauz authorities to undermine the freedom of the press, reminding that this is not the only deviation of this kind. “We call on the authorities of ATU Gagauzia to immediately withdraw the legislative initiative that flagrantly goes against the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova and the international treaties to which the Republic of Moldova is a party,” said the NGOs.

The signatories of the declaration are the Independent Journalism Center for, “Acces-info” Center, the Electronic Press Association, the Association of Independent Press, RISE Moldova, Investigative Journalism Center for, the Association of Environmental and Ecological Tourism Journalists, the Media Guard Association, and the Committee for Freedom of the Press.



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