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Media NGOs Condemn the Verbal Assault against Jurnal TV Crew by a Chisinau Court Magistrate

14 February 2019
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Media non-governmental organisations condemn the verbal assault against  Jurnal TV camera crew by the judge Serghei Lazari. The presence of the Jurnal TV camera crew at the Buiucani office of Chisinau Court, that was there to cover the court hearing of Domnica Manole’s case, caused discontent of Serghei Lazari – one of the judges working on this case.

A video broadcast by Jurnal TV shows how Serghei Lazari, while walking past the journalists, covered their camera with his hand and addressed the cameraman in a threatening tone: ‘You won’t understand painlessly, will you?’

We qualify the magistrate’s behaviour as inadequate and inadmissible, contradictory to the norms established by the Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct of Judges. Inter alia, the Code provides the following in its Article 9(6): ‘While communicating with the media, a judge must consider the following: presumption of innocence, person’s life and dignity, freedom of the press, right to a fair trial, right of defense, efficiency and confidentiality of a judicial process’.

We also remind that Article 15(d) of Law on the Status of the Judge provides that a judge must refrain from any acts, which might damage the interests of service and discredit the Justice, compromise magistrates’ honour and dignity. 

We urge the Committee on Ethics and Conduct of Judges to take action and to examine the case in order to pass an appropriate judgment on it.

We call on the Superior Council of Magistracy to comment on the case and to qualify it from the perspective of compliance with discipline and professional ethics by magistrate Serghei Lazari. We also ask for the necessary actions to be taken in order to prevent such incidents in the future.

We urge judges to be open to media institutions and remind them that journalists have the right to film, photograph, obtain and disseminate information of public interest. Likewise, citizens have the right to receive information through the media. According to Article 1801 of the Criminal Code, the deliberate obstruction of media activity can be subject to criminal liability.

Independent Journalism Center
Association of Independent Press
Association of Electronic Press
Center for Investigative Journalism
Press Freedom Committee 
‘Access-Info’ Center
RISE Moldova