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Access to Information: Journalists have Named the Least Press-Friendly Institutions. The Presidency Came First

04 May 2018
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A total of 23 media publishers were polled in a survey organised to identify the institutions that violate the Law on Access to Information most often. The Presidency of the Republic of Moldova and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Social Protection were mentioned the most. The survey was organized by the Independent Journalism Center. Dozens of publishers were asked to name three institutions that either failed to reply within the time period stipulated by the law, or offered a very broad reply. Journalists also indicated motives invoked by the state structures.
Thus, the Presidency was mentioned in the survey eight times, while the Ministry of Health, Labor and Social Protection (MSMPS) – six times. Third place went to the State Tax Service (mentioned four times).

The Mayoralty of Chisinau municipality and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research were mentioned three times. Institutions mentioned twice include: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, Security and Intelligence Service, courts of law, Ministry of Justice, General Prosecutor’s Office, State Chancellery and Ministry of Economy and Infrastructure.

Institutions mentioned once include: Bureau for Reintegration, National Bureau of Statistics, Public Property Agency, Customs Service, ANRE, Public Services Agency, Cahul District Council, National Bank of Moldova and Ministry of Transport and Road Infrastructure (merged); Ministry of Internal Affairs and, separately, Border Police Department, Chisinau Temporary Detention Facility and Center for International Police Cooperation of the General Police Inspectorate, National Health Insurance Company, Center for Centralized Public Procurements in Health and National Center for Pre-hospital Emergency Medicine.
Journalists also mentioned a state-owned enterprise and two joint-stock companies: I.S. (SOE) ‘Posta Moldovei’, SA Moldovagaz, SA Drumuri.

Most frequently cited reasons for refusal

Journalists also listed the reasons invoked in cases when institutions refused to provide requested information. In nine cases no reply was offered at all. ‘They did not invoke any reasons, they just did not respond to our request’.
Personal data protection proved to be the most popular reason, having been cited in eight cases. Trade secret was invoked twice. Other reasons invoked by state representatives included the following: ‘the issue has to be documented, because I was not aware of it’; ‘busy agenda’, ‘the expert is on leave’; ‘this information is paid’, etc.


Most frequently cited reasons for refusal

The following media outlets participated in the survey: TV8, Ziarul Capital Market, Moldova Curata, RISE Moldova, Jurnal de Chisinau newspaper, Ziarul de Garda, Mold-street.com, NewsMaker, Crime Moldova, Sanatate INFO, Observatorul de Nord newspaper, Bizlaw, Unimedia, Radio Europa Libera, Pro TV Chisinau, Agora.md, Deschide.md, the Center for Investigative Journalism, SP Balti, moldNova.eu (2016 – February 2018), Evenimentul Zilei, TVR Moldova, Gazeta de Sud.

Throughout last year, reporters, especially those working in investigative journalism, had repeatedly noted that authorities were increasingly restricting access to public information. In July 2016, certain amendments to the Law on Access to Information passed the first reading in Parliament. One of them stipulated the obligation of state institutions to offer requested information within a shorter time period. Since then, the Parliament has yet to return to this draft.