Non-governmental media organisations express their concern about the attempts of the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia to undermine the freedom of expression of the media and call for the immediate intervention of the territorial office of the State Chancellery to annul the regulatory act issued in this regard.
On 26 May 2022, the People’s Assembly of the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia (ATUG) issued a Decision prohibiting the media from documenting and disseminating materials regarding the coverage and propaganda of non-traditional relations on the territory of the ATUG. (Paragraph 3 of the Decision: ‘Prohibit the mass media from producing and distributing materials on the territory of ATU Gagauzia regarding the coverage and propaganda of non-traditional relations’).
We stress 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’.
We inform members of the ATUG People’s Assembly that 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 can prohibit or prevent the media from disseminating information except under the law.
The bans legislated by People’s Assembly of Gagauzia constitute a violation of the freedom of press and a breach of the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova and other national laws.
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
Media Guard Association
Association of Electronic Press
Association of Independent Press
Press Freedom Committee
 For the legal basis of this decision, the People’s Assembly invoked the provisions of the Regulation of Gagauzia, which establishes as competence of the authority the ‘participation in the promotion of domestic and foreign policy of the Republic of Moldova in matters concerning the interests of Gagauzia’.
 Freedom of expression may be restricted only on the basis of an organic law and only if the ‘triple test’ established in the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights and in the national law is passed (‘A restriction may be allowed (1) only for protecting a legitimate interest expressly provided for by law and (2) only if it is proportionate to the situation which gave rise to it, (3) ensuring a fair balance between the protected interest and freedom of expression, as well as the freedom of the audience to be informed’).