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Moldsilva Prohibits Filming Forest Clearing in the Absence of Foresters. Explanations from the Agency

21 April 2021
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Journalists and other persons will no longer have the right to film forest clearing without the presence of specialists in forestry. This is what the Moldsilva Agency affirms: it has issued an order according to which access to and filming in areas where forestry works are conducted shall be allowed only in the presence of the authority’s representatives. The Agency’s director explains this decision by “complying with security standards”. However, the IJC lawyer considers that the special filming regime established by Moldsilva implies “a number of restrictions of citizens’ constitutional rights.”
 
Earlier this year, several videos filmed live in different forest areas where trees were cut down were spread in social networks.


Pădurea din Teleșeu, raionul Orhei. Sursa foto: Partidul Democrație Acasă/Facebook

There were also sequences published on the Facebook page of the Democracy at Home Party presided by Vasile Costiuc, who accuses Moldsilva, the agency in charge of managing the forest area, of practicing illegal works.

The agency officials denied the allegations. Moreover, in early February, a post was published on Moldsilva’s Facebook page mentioning the intention to allow filming in the forest only in the presence of specialists in forestry “to exclude any attempt at manipulation and biased interpretation of reality on the spot.”

FILMING ONLY IN THE PRESENCE OF FORESTRY STAFF

Upon request from Media Azi to provide some details of the decisions taken, Moldsilva representatives have stated that, on February 26, about a week after publishing the post on Facebook, the authority approved an order prohibiting filming in forested areas where logging or other forestry works are conducted without the presence of foresters. “Currently, in accordance with the provisions of p. 2 of the Order of the Moldsilva Agency No 65 of 26.02.2021 ‘On Intensification of Communication in the Sphere of Forestry and Preventing Biased Interpretations of Ongoing Forestry Works’, access and filming in the woods where forestry (forest exploitation) works take place, in order to comply with safety standards for protecting lives of visitors and staff involved in the work process, shall be allowed in the presence of representatives of the company’s administration (director, chief forestry engineer, head of the forestry district, or other authorized specialists in the sphere of forestry and forestry works,” the response signed by Dumitru Cojocaru, the director of the institution, states.


Tăieri la Sipoteni, Călărași. Sursa foto: captură video Democrație Acasă/Facebook

ORDER BY MOLDSILVA: CARE FOR CITIZENS OR AN “ACT OF CENSORSHIP”?

The order in question cannot be found on the agency’s website, whereas repeated attempts to get a copy of the document have failed. Moldsilva has requested additional arguments to make it available to the lawyers who are representatives of the Independent Journalism Center (IJC).

According to Cristina Durnea, the IJC lawyer, this decision causes a number of questions. It is clear from the title of the document that it regulates intensification of communication in the sphere of forestry. “However, it is absolutely inexplicable why a document issued in order to regulate communication processes includes legal standards regulating the safety regime on forest sites,” she wonders. The IJC lawyer considers that “referring to ‘compliance with safety standards for protecting lives of visitors and staff involved in the work process’ is merely the authority’s attempt to justify its censorship steps.”

In her opinion, the special filming regime required by Moldsilva involves a number of restrictions of citizens’ constitutional rights. She recalls that the law guarantees universal right to free movement and freedom of expression, which includes the freedom to seek, obtain, and spread facts and ideas. “I would like to emphasize that guaranteed rights can only be restricted by adopting an organic or ordinary law in order to protect legitimate interests stipulated by the legislation, and only if a restriction is proportionate to the situation which has determined it. At the same time, in the context of the legal provisions, the acts issued by the Moldsilva Agency have to be strictly limited to the framework established by the superior regulatory acts and cannot contradict the provisions of the respective acts. In other words, the order signed by the director of Moldsilva cannot prevail over the constitutional guarantees by imposing unjustified limitations,” Cristina Durnea explains.

Moreover, she considers the delay in presenting the original order to be “abusive and ungrounded.” “Let me remind you that the Moldsilva Agency is an administrative authority subordinate to the central environmental public administration authority, which falls within the scope of the provisions of the Law on Decision-Making Transparency, and, according to the legislation, it is obliged to publish the legal acts it adopts,” the lawyer concludes.
 

Sursa foto: Democrație Acasă/Facebook