Media NGOs strongly condemn the defiant attempts of the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia to hinder the work of journalists by setting up arbitrary and abusive mechanisms of ‘accreditation’ of the press, which contravene constitutional and conventional norms. Media NGOs are calling for the immediate annulment of the decision.
On 6 December 2022, the People’s Assembly of the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia (ATUG) issued a decision making access of the press to the meetings of the authority conditional on a permit and establishing a series of obligations and restrictions incompatible with the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova, the Law on Freedom of Expression, the Law on Transparency in Decision-Making and the Law on the Special Legal Status of Gagauzia.
We condemn the People’s Assembly’s attempt to assume arbitrary rights and powers to select the media outlets eligible to cover the public authority’s meetings, as well as to impose restrictions on the editorial policy of media outlets or on the technical means of documenting journalistic materials.
The NGOs qualify the criteria established for accreditation and for its revocation as indicative of censorship of the media (The media may be deprived of accreditation in the case of (…) discrediting the activities of the People’s Assembly or the deputies; refusal to publish a reply or rebuttal by the People’s Assembly. The accredited journalist may enter the room only with the permission of the presiding officer).
We inform the ATUG People’s Assembly that, according to the law, Gagauzia is administered under the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova, other national laws and ‘regulatory acts of the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia, which do not contradict the Constitution and legislation of the Republic of Moldova’.
Article 32 of the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova guarantees every citizen freedom of thought, opinion and expression in public by any possible means. Article 111 of the Supreme Law stipulates that all rights and freedoms provided for in the Constitution and legislation of the Republic of Moldova are guaranteed on the territory of the ATUG. At the same time, according to Law on Freedom of Expression, the state guarantees the freedom of expression of the media and no one may prohibit or prevent the media from disseminating information except under the law.
The authorities of the autonomous territorial units with special legal status are obliged to comply with the provisions of the Law on Transparency in Decision-making. The meetings of the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia are public. Any interested person is entitled to attend these meetings and to participate at any stage of the decision-making process.
The defiant provisions legislated by the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia constitute an abuse of press freedom and cannot be accepted in a democratic society.
We urge the territorial office of the State Chancellery to check the lawfulness of the regulatory act issued by People’s Assembly of Gagauzia and notify directly the administrative court with the view to quashing it.
We urge the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia to reverse its blatantly illegal decision and to avoid passing any other initiatives that illegally limit the journalists’ rights and freedoms.
Independent Journalism Center
Environment and Ecotourism Journalists’ Association
Media Guard Association
Association of Electronic Press
Association of Independent Press
Center for Investigative Journalism
Press Freedom Committee
Article 3 of the Law on Transparency in Decision-Making: ‘The following public authorities drafting decisions fall under the scope of this Act: f) authorities of autonomous territorial units with special legal status’;
 Article 29 of the Regulation of Gagauzia: ‘The plenary sessions of the People’s Assembly are open to the public. Any interested person may attend the meetings of the People’s Assembly, unless the law provides otherwise’;
Article 13(1) of the Law on Transparency in Decision-Making: ‘The meetings of public authorities concerning decision-making shall be public, except in cases provided for by law.’