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A Better Law for Journalists, a Better Informed Citizen!

15 June 2017
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The campaign “A Better Law for Journalists, a Better Informed Citizen!” aims to improve the legal framework on access to information and to toughen up penalties under the Contraventions Code for those who intentionally violate regulations on access to information.

Practice shows that requests for access to information are wrongly examined within 30 days, which is the term set for examining petitions. Officials are misled by Article 15 (1) of the Law on Access to Information, according to which written requests for access to information are to be registered under the legislation on petitioning. Therefore, to avoid wrong examination of requests for access to information under the Law on Petitioning, we propose written requests for access to information to be registered in a special book, the “Register for Records and Control of Requests for Access to Information.” Also, we find that the terms set for provision of information – “not later than 15 working days from the day of registration of the request” (i.e. about 20 calendar days) – are exaggerated, and we propose reducing them to not more than 10 calendar days. In the European Union Member States, the terms for provision of information vary, but they are usually smaller than in Moldova. We believe that tougher penalties should be introduced for violation of this legislation. Article 71 of the Contraventions Code stipulates that intentional violation of regulations on access to information and on petitioning are penalized with a fine of 100 to 150 conventional units to individuals and with 300 to 400 conventional units to a responsible official. Presentation of a response with clearly erroneous data is penalized with a fine of 400 to 500 conventional units to a responsible official. Tougher penalties for violation of the Law on Access to Information might discipline public institutions, providing additional guarantees for uniform application of law.

Amendments to the Contraventions Code entered into force in March 2017, and amendments to the Law on Access to Information were adopted only in the first reading in July 2016 and are pending vote in the second reading.

Activities conducted as part of the campaign:
 

This campaign has been possible due to the generous help of the American people through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The opinions here belong to authors and might not reflect the position of the USAID or the U.S. Government.