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Repeated Request of the Ombudsperson to the General Prosecutor’s Office to Examine the Threats of Ilan Shor against Journalists

05 November 2018
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Mihail Cotorobai, the Ombudsperson ensuring the observance of human rights and freedoms by public authorities, sent a repeated request to the General Prosecutor’s Office asking the latter to examine the threatening statements of Ilan Shor, mayor of Orhei, made in July against journalists, according to the Ombudsperson’s press release. Furthermore, the Ombudsperson asked the Speaker to urgently adopt the law package on hate and prejudice crimes.

Prosecutor’s Office answered to the first request of the Ombudsperson that prosecutors issued an order to refuse the launch of a criminal prosecution in this case on the ground that ‘the deeds committed by the citizen Ilan Shor Miron on 20 July 2018 are not stipulated by criminal law as a crime’.
The legal experts from the Ombudsperson’ Office found that the prosecutors, when issued this order, referred only to the statements of mayor of Orhei that contain hate speech and that are not clearly regulated by the national law. To close these loopholes, the Ombudsperson sent a request to the Speaker, asking to examine, as a priority, before the expiration of the current Government’s term of office, the law package on hate and prejudice crimes, which was passed in the first reading in 2016.

The Parliament’s website states that this draft law was adopted in the second reading too (on 26 April 2018), but it is still under examination.
 The press release also states that in the repeated request to Eduard Harunjen, Prosecutor General, the Ombudsperson asked to take measures against the persecution and intimidation of journalists for criticism, this fact being completely ignored by the representatives of the Municipality Prosecutor’s Office.

In the aforementioned request, the Ombudsperson recalled that while the national law regulating prejudice speeches is far from perfect, there are still legal norms providing sanctions for the intimidation and persecution of journalists. Article 1801 of the Criminal Code states that the ‘deliberate obstruction of activities of a media outlet or journalist, as well as intimidation of a media outlet or journalist for criticism shall be punished by a fine amounting from 500 to 650 conventional units with (or without) the deprivation of the right to hold certain public positions up to 2 years’.

Media non-governmental organisations previously voiced their concern about the threatening statements against journalists by Ilan Shor and reminded that the threats and ultimatum-like tone towards journalists could be regarded as an attempt to impose censorship in the media.
A number of human rights organisations showed their solidarity with journalists. Representatives of human rights NGOs have asked prosecutors to investigate the statements of Ilan Shor in terms of instigating hatred. Among the signatories of the Declaration were Amnesty International Moldova, Legal Resources Center from Moldova, Information Center GENDERDOC-M, Promo-LEX and RCTV Memoria.
In the videotape published on 20 July, on the day of a protest organised by Ilan Shor, he declared that, once he comes to power, he will apply an eventual lustration law in relation to the inconvenient journalists (whom he defines vaguely as ‘paid to write nasty things about people’).
Note that Agora.md portal recently wrote that Ilan Shor will not be brought to account for threats against journalists. Stefan Saptefrati, head of Chisinau Prosecutor’s Office, declared that the criminal law did not stipulate that mayor’s acts represented a crime. ‘On 3 September, a decision to reject the launch of a criminal prosecution was taken. There is no crime deed in his threats’, Stefan Saptefrati declared for Agora.md.