Memo on freedom of the press in Moldova: Decline of freedom of the media is alarming

The freedom of the press in the Republic of Moldova the past year has declined alarmingly, the health authorities being reluctant to communicate with the press, while the journalists continued to face threats and intimidation while they informed the citizens about events of public interest. The conclusions were included in the memo on the freedom of the press in the Republic of Moldova for May 3, 2020 – May 3, 2021, which was launched on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day.

The Independent Journalism Center of Moldova, alongside another eight media nongovernmental organizations, in the memo noted that the pandemic crisis, together with the political instability and economic crisis in the Republic of Moldova, generated serious repercussions for the media sector. This way, the problems faced the previous years grew dramatically. Owing to the authorities’ inability to correctly and promptly inform the citizens, the information sphere was deliberately polluted with fake news about the pandemic situation.

The memo reminds of the rise in the number of cases of verbal and physical aggression against journalists, such as attacks during protests, illegal arrests, accusations and impolite expressions. The political context remains worrisome. The government managed to transform the multiple media outlets into resonance boxes for the own messages, while the independent press was subject to tactics to intimidate the political interest groups. The politic factor was mainly guided by electoral goals to the detriment of political stability favorable for the proper activity of the media.

The legal framework wasn’t supplemented with new laws that are necessary in the field and wasn’t adjusted to the needs of the sector. A number of the legislative amendments turned out to be dangerous and contrary to the EU standards. Furthermore, the press continued to be vulnerable from financial viewpoint.

The memo recommends the Government and Parliament to restore the working group for improving the mass media legislation so that this deals with the national media development concept, to reduce the political influence on the activity of the media by extending the independent press sector, to implement public legal-economic policies to ensure the media outlets work in equitable and transparent competition conditions, to develop media pluralism and denounce any act of threat or aggression against the media.

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