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A Journalist from ‘Observatorul de Nord’ Sued Soroca Mayor’s Office for Blocking His Access to the Institution’s Facebook Page

05 June 2019
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On 5 June 2019, Vadim Sterbate – a journalist from ‘Observatorul de Nord’ – filed a lawsuit against Soroca Mayor and Mayor’s Office defending his right to information of public interest, as reported by API. It started after Sterbate noticed that his access to the official Facebook page of Soroca Mayor’s Office was blocked.

According to Vadim Sterbate, there had been deleted the tags from most of the posts and comments criticizing the Mayor’s Office and then, on 2 April 2019, Vadim Sterbate’s access to Soroca Mayor’s Office Facebook page from his personal account was blocked. Thus the journalist wasn’t just deprived of the right to disseminate journalistic materials and write comments of the official page of a public institution, but also of the right to get informed on Mayor’s Office activity.

On 7 May 2019, Vadim Sterbate submitted a request to the Mayor's Office and to Mayor Victor Sau, asking to unblock his access to the Facebook page, but he received no answer.

Vitalie Zama, the attorney that will represent Vadim Sterbate in court, stated that in the given case it’s not just the plaintiff’s rights that were violated, but also the citizens’ right to active, accurate and timely information on public matters. ‘Since this Facebook account is maintained from public funds and so are the offices and computers of the public administration, where civil servants work, the journalists’ access to this account – with the purpose to publish journalistic materials, including materials that criticize the authorities – cannot be restricted’ concluded Vitalie Zama.

In the application, the court was asked to state the violation committed by Soroca Mayor and Mayor’s Office and the right to access public interest information and to restore Vadim Sterbate’s access to Soroca Mayor’s Office Facebook page.
The Association of Independent Press (API) provides legal assistance in this case.