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Journalists’ Access to Public Information Declining in Moldova – Freedom House

Moldova registered a notable decline in the processing of requests for information of public interest, according to the Freedom House Report 2023, “Measuring Transparency of Public Institutions in Moldova”.

According to the report, public institutions scored 38 per cent compared to 45 per cent in 2022, measured on the threefold criteria of legislation, proactive transparency and access upon request.

“Access to information has improved only when a journalist or a newsroom wants to debunk false information and only via personal relationships with a communicator from one institution or another,” Lilia Zaharia, director of Transparency International Moldova, told Balkan Insight.

Lilia Zaharia added that, on the other hand, it took a lot of work for investigative journalists to access information of public interest owing to problems in access or by paying higher fees for access to the state register of companies and cadastral registers.

“Now investigative journalists cannot access these platforms, even with payment. If they used to have a subscription and access data for a fee, now they don’t even access, even with a fee,” she added. 

To access such information, a journalist or newsroom must be registered as a personal data controller. They also risk being sued by those whose personal data they access for documentary purposes.

Parliament in Moldova adopted a new law on access to information of public interest on June 9. The law will enter into force on January 8, 2024, replacing the Law of May 11, 2000.

The law further reduces the period for examination and resolution of requests for access to information, making it one of the shortest in Europe.

Moldova is rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2023, Freedom House’s annual study of political rights and civil liberties worldwide.

Freedom House Report 2023 was released Monday at Media Forum 2023, the most extensive media event of the year in Moldova, organised by the Independent Press Association, API. 

Source : Balkan Insight

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