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Media NGOs request the Superior Council of Magistracy to amend the draft regulations on public communication

29 July 2013
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Media NGOs shared their concern in a public appeal to the Superior Council of the Magistracy (SCM) about the inclusion of some provisions in the new draft regulations for the Service of Public Information and Relations with Mass Media that limit the access of mass media to information and, accordingly, the public’s freedom to be informed about issues of public interest. The text of the draft can be found here. The regulations were discussed in courts but were not returned for consultations with civil society which took notice of this fact, considering that it is their duty to react.

The new regulations introduce qualitative improvements to the old version, which can be found here. Unfortunately, the new draft regulations contain numerous deficiencies and will make communication between journalists and courts difficult which will inevitably lead to diminishing the general public’s trust in the justice system. Courts cannot function in a void far from media attention, especially in high-profile cases.

According to the Justice Sector Reform Strategy for 2011–2016 adopted by Law no. 231 of 25.11.2011, “The general objective of this Strategy is the establishment of an accessible, efficient, independent, transparent, professional and socially responsible justice sector that would comply with European standards, ensure supremacy of the law and observance of human rights, and contribute to ensuring public trust in the administration of justice.” If the new regulations are adopted in the initially proposed version, it will limit the right of media outlets to promptly obtain information of public interest or will favor offering selective information based on subjective reasons.

By means of the aforementioned appeal, the following adjustments were proposed for the draft Regulations opened for discussion:

Inclusion into item 7 of two additional phrases: “ensures proper media coverage for information of public interest” and “responds to the requests of mass media and the public”;

Exclusion from item 7 of the phrase “has the right to,” which can be interpreted as has the right, but this right is not compulsory, can be prohibited or limited, which contradicts the role of a press service in an institution;

Replacement in item 8 of the word “provides” with the phrase “must provide,” and the phrase “within a reasonable time” – with the word “promptly”;

Supplementation of item 9 with the phrase “by telephone or mail, including email”; the procedure for providing information by email is stipulated in the Law on Access to Information;

Exclusion of item 10, as it could limit the access of some media outlets to information. There is a risk that not all journalists will receive equal treatment;

Inclusion in items 13, 14, 18, 19 and 20 of the current Regulations of the Service of Public Information and Relations with Mass Media, adopted by Decision of the SCM no. 141/6 of 30.04.2009, into the new version of the Regulations.

To improve public communication on cases of interest to mass media, it is necessary to rethink the strategy of communication with mass media. The press service must promptly and without discrimination provide the public and mass media with relevant information of public interest.

The signatory organizations hope that the proposals in this appeal will be taken into consideration and then included in the final text of the document.
 
Independent Journalism Center
Association of Independent Press
Electronic Press Association
Journalistic Investigations Center
Young Journalist Center of Moldova
Acces-info Center