According to ‘SP’ media outlet, the lawyer started making threats after an article on the road traffic violations committed by a person who was demonstrating unsanctioned driving around the Christmas tree in the town of Balti, saw the light of day.
Shortly after the article was published, Catalina Galusca sent the ‘SP’ reporter a message demanding that she remove from the published article the video footage in which her car appeared, threatening that she would sue the publication. (Quote: Я подаю на ваше издательство в суд. Немедленно уберите видео в сегодняшнем номере с моей машиной. Я – в ярости! Это разглашение персональных данных, что наказывается по закону! Я засужу издание по полной программе!!!) – See the translation in the footnote.
The lawyer called the ‘SP’ editor and reiterated her intention to sue them, which – according to Catalina Galusca – would result in the shut-down of this media outlet. (Quote: Вы сделали очень плохую вещь, плохую, я считаю, для вашего издания, которое я вам просто обещаю, что я его закрою.) – See the translation in the footnote
Subsequently, the lawyer’s arrogant language degenerated as she moved on to personal threats against the ‘SP’ reporter. Certainly, her capacity as a lawyer, and – by implication – her professional knowledge in legal matters, amplified the impact of her threats.
We remind that, according to Chapter XII, para. (1) of the Moldova Lawyers’ Code of Ethics, a lawyer must demonstrate dignified behaviour that doesn’t tarnish the image of this profession in the society. In addition, Article 10(1) of the bar law stipulates that an irreproachable reputation is an inherent condition one must meet to practise law.
Also, note that the deliberate obstruction of activities of a media outlet or journalist, as well as the intimidation of a media outlet or journalist for criticism are offences provided for in Article 1801 of the Criminal Code.
In our opinion, the behaviour of the lawyer was shameful, unacceptable and dishonourable for the profession she practises. It is indisputable that the actions of Catalina Galusca express an affront to the freedom of the press and undermine the public’s trust in members of the legal profession. Therefore, the non-governmental organizations:
- Request the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Moldova Lawyers’ Union to pass a decision imposing a disciplinary sanction on the lawyer Catalina Galusca;
- Urge all people who believe they were wronged by the mass media to employ legitimate means to defend their rights, freedoms and interests stipulated in the law and not to indulge in abusive and illegal practices to intimidate journalists.
Independent Journalism Center
Association of Independent Press
Association of Electronic Press
Press Freedom Committee
Association of Independent TV Journalists
Environment and Ecotourism Journalists’ Association