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Access to Information in IJC's Spotlight: a New Project for Supporting Journalists

07 July 2021
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The access of the press to information of public interest is one of the key issues journalists are faced with in the Republic of Moldova, which is mentioned by reporters and in specialized reports. In this connection, the Independent Journalism Center (IJC) continues its efforts to improve the conditions of journalists’ activity by launching a new project implemented from June 2021 to February 2022. It includes advocacy initiatives for holding the authorities accountable for failing to provide information of public interest.
 
“Access to information is a right often breached by the authorities, which often only pretend to respect it, especially in cases when public interests contradict to those of a certain group or party. In these conditions, we as the journalists find ourselves in a situation of struggling for the information revealing corruption cases and backstage games of those having state power. It may seem Sisyphean toil, yet this is where the role of civil society is crucial to us. Due to it, we become a force hard to defeat,” journalist Olga Ceaglei, the CU SENS co-founder, affirms.

“Due to the pandemic, the situation has worsened – the virus and related restrictions have become a reason for many public institutions to impose stricter requirements for obtaining information. It often becomes impossible to get a comment from officials or public figures. Government agency press services demand written requests for information; until they provide a response, a journalist loses precious time, and the topic risks being ‘exhausted.’ Certainly, journalists could try to hold the authorities accountable, but it also takes time which is very precious and limited for the press,” Ruslan Mihailevschi, “SP” newspaper editor-in-chief from Balti, says.

Cristina Durnea, the IJC lawyer, also remarks that journalists have to face a number of “hindrances” generated by several state authorities to keep the information of public interest away from the eyes of the world: “They complain they have to wait for a long while even after the time limit set by the law for receiving a reply is over, and, because information is a perishable good for the press, in most cases, the answers provided with such delays are no longer required for journalistic investigations.” In addition to abusive delays, some information providers send incomplete, evasive, or vague replies. “By unfairly invoking various pretexts to justify limited access to information, providers issue numerous refusals that do not comply with the legal requirements,” the lawyer Cristina Durnea concludes.

The information about the activities implemented will be published on a regular basis on the IJC webpage, www.media-azi.md.