The Independent Journalism Center (IJC), the Association of Electronic Press (APEL), “Access-Info” Center, RISE Moldova also the Legal Resources Center of Moldova (CRJM), and Amnesty International Moldova express their concern related to the ongoing practice of suspending licenses of television broadcasters without offering detailed explanations regarding the factual and legal grounds for these restrictive measures. The signatory NGOs are requesting that the arguments and evidence underlying the decision of the Commission for Emergency Situations (CES) of the Republic of Moldova be communicated without delay.
On 30 October 2023, CES decided to suspend the broadcasting license for another six television broadcasters (Orizont TV, ITV, Prime TV, Publika TV, Canal 2 and Canal 3) on the grounds that they ‘represent a threat to informational security’, according to the head of the Intelligence and Security Service (SIS), Alexandru Musteața. The director of the SIS declared that the activity of these broadcasters included “multiple violations of the law”, as found by the Broadcasting Council (BC), but also by the SIS, and prime-minister Dorin Recean announced that there is ‘proof that these broadcasters are pursuing external interests, in order to destabilise the situation in the Republic of Moldova’.
Despite this, the CES decision of 30 October does not include any arguments or references to “serious, cogent, justified and duly substantiated reasons” underlying the suspension decision. Also, the specific information on the sanctions previously imposed by the BC on each of the media service provider concerned, as well as on the ‘multiple violations of the law’ found by the SIS is missing from the decision of the CES.
Currently, the public and the civil society are deprived of the possibility to assess the extent of the interferences or the legitimacy of the aim pursued by the authorities. This approach facilitates the rise of concerns regarding the appropriateness and compatibility degree of the restrictive measures with the immanent principles and values of a democratic state.
The signatory NGOs understand the need to take immediate measures to ensure the informational security of the country, but highlight that restrictive measures must be supported by convincing arguments and clear evidence and that the level of the measures applied has to ensure the exclusion of any doubt regarding the legality and the extent of the interferences.
We restate that the Government has the obligation to enforce a legal and administrative framework that can guarantee an efficient broadcasting pluralism. The inability of the authorities to motivate their decisions raises suspicions that the restrictive measures approved were unjustified and go against the diversity of political views expressed, as well as against strengthening the protection of the freedom of expression in audiovisual media.
In line with the aforementioned, we express our regret that there was only silence from the side of the authorities regarding the previous appeal of media NGOs.
In order to avoid misinterpretations and bias, as well as to bring more clarity, the signatory organizations request that all factual and legal grounds underlying the CES decision be made public.
Independent Journalism Center
Association of Electronic Press
Amnesty International Moldova
Legal Resources Center of Moldova