On 17 June 2020, the Civil, Commercial and Contentious-Administrative Matters Collegium of the Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ) issued a decision likely to have a negative impact on exercising and claiming the right of access to information of public interest.
More specifically, while public hearings are being held in Parliament on the assessment of the impact of the Law on Access to Information and the proposals to amend it, the Supreme Court found that the Law on Access to Information has become obsolete, ruling in this regard that the law in question became inapplicable since the entry into force of the Administrative Code, on 1 April 2019. Therefore, this Code alone shall apply in exercising and defending the right of access to information of public interest.
The findings of the SCJ magistrates, whose decisions serve as benchmarks for consistency in national case-law, may give rise to a flawed judicial practice. At the same time, the Supreme Court’s rulings lead to numerous issues relating to exercising, using and claiming the right of access to information of public interest, including:
- The impossibility to submit requests for information to suppliers, other than in the category of public institutions/authorities;
- The impossibility to apply contravention sanctions (art. 71 of the Contravention Code) for violating the legislation on access to information;
- The extension of the deadline for providing the answer by the supplier to the requests made by the inquirers;
- The mandatory completion by the applicant for information of a preliminary procedure provided by the Administrative Code.
With regards to the above, we call on the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova, the Superior Council of Magistracy and the Plenum of the Supreme Court of Justice, as by virtue of their legal duties:
- to ensure a sufficient, efficient and functional legal framework in the field of access to information, in particular by examining and adopting the draft law amending and supplementing certain legal acts with a view to improving access to information of public interest, prepared by media NGO experts and submitted to the Parliament in June 2020;
- to take the necessary measures to remedy and mitigate the impact of the SCJ's findings on exercising, using and claiming the right of access to information;
- not to allow restrictions and limitations on the constitutional right of access to information of public interest.
Independent Journalism Center
Association of Independent Press
Center for Investigative Journalism
Association of Electronic Press
Press Freedom Committee
Association of Independent TV Journalists
Ziarul de Garda