Media NGOs condemn the inappropriate behavior of Chișinău Mayor Ion Ceban, who is launching attacks against the media outlets that have revealed the problems of the capital city. In addition, he is using administrative resources to undermine the media’s freedom to criticize public authorities and persons in public positions.
During two weekly meetings of the services of Chișinău Mayoralty, on 13 and 20 March, Ion Ceban focused a significant part of his speech on the media outlets that are addressing in their reports how municipal authorities manage various areas. In his statements, the head of the municipal administration called the journalistic materials “lies”, “half measures!”, “nonsense” and “gross manipulation”.
Ion Ceban asked Vice-Mayors and department directors of the Mayoralty, to “univocally and urgently” contract services of public information monitoring, as well as legal services in order to defend the “dignity and image of the Chișinău Mayoralty” (Ion Ceban: Now that we are in an electoral campaign, I have a request for you: as long as we are investing millions in repair works, please contract legal services to defend your honor and dignity and to monitor promptly all interventions made by journalists. Last week, there were over 300 negative reports.)
At the same time, the Mayor launched serious accusations against the public broadcaster (Ion Ceban: It turned into a holding of the type it used to criticize. Moldova 1, Radio Moldova and many others, those who have to serve for the allocated 140 million lei (…) we support the Teleradio Moldova staff so that they can tell their lies, along with other TV channels and information portals.)
Media NGOs condemn this inappropriate behavior for a person in a public dignity position, and call on the Mayor General of Chișinău to end the intimidation campaign against the media outlets that cover topics about how the municipal authorities perform their duties.
The signatory organizations remind that the Law on Freedom of Expression (Article 19) guarantees to everyone, including journalists, the right to criticise the State and public authorities. According to the law, individuals in public positions may be subject to criticism and their actions – to scrutiny by the media in terms of how they have exercised or are exercising their duties.
Likewise, media NGOs condemn the practice of using administrative resources, including public money and the time allocated for authority’s meetings, to launch attacks and threats against journalists. We inform the Chișinău Mayor that the Law on Freedom of Expression (Article 19) clearly establishes that the State and the public authorities may not start defamation actions and are not protected by criminal or contravention law against alleged defamatory statements.
We demand that Mayor Ion Ceban uses decent language and behavior, and that they refrain in the future from behaving in any way that is intolerant in relation to journalists and media outlets. At the same time, we inform that those who believe that their rights have been violated by the publication of a journalistic material complain against the media’s action at the Press Council.
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