Afrique Ameriques Asie Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
Romania24 March 2009

Government tries to rush through civil and criminal codes reform curtailing right to information

(JPEG) Reporters Without Borders and its partner organisation, the Media Monitoring Agency, condemn the restrictions on the right to information contained in a proposed reform of the criminal and civil codes which the government agreed on the 25th of February to submit to parliament on 11 March.

“Articles in title II, section 3 of the proposed draft civil code, and article 225 in the draft criminal code regarding the right to privacy would significantly restrict research and investigation and a legitimate right to information,” Reporters Without Borders and the Media Monitoring Agency said. “Everyone agrees on the need to protect privacy, but the terms and limits in this proposed reform would give free rein to the most restrictive interpretations”.

“As it stands, the draft civil code would reduce the work of the press to just putting out information and statements that have been explicitly approved by those that produce them. The right of reply is part of journalistic practice but it cannot acquire the automatic character envisaged by this bill. The proposed reform’s requirements in the articles referring to data protection would also seriously undermine the right to the protection of sources that is the basis of all investigative journalism.”

“Like all European Union members, Romania has a duty to set an example when drafting laws affecting news and information, both as regards the substance of these laws and the way they are drafted. The interventionist nature of this reform in some ways recalls the June 2008 bill that would have forced national radio and TV stations to broadcast ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ news in equal measure.”

“Amendments to the criminal and civil codes are needed for Romania to conform to European media standards but they cannot be adopted without consulting with all of the actors involved. As it already did as regards digital broadcasting last November, the government prefers to act in haste and without any kind of consultative process although the basic principles of a modern democracy are at stake.”

Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard said: “We encourage all possible measures that help to combat the corruption that undermines the state’s ability to function properly, but it is absurd to try to attack corruption by restricting the freedom of investigative journalists to operate.”

The press freedom organisation added: “Citing European Commission demands in order to justify the haste and the procedural methods used is unacceptable. We urge parliament to reject these bills and to demand a debate with all the actors involved. The subjects concerned are too important to reach a decision with such precipitation.”

  In this country
14 November - Romania
NGO coalition criticises government decision to use decree to introduce digital broadcasting
26 June - Romania
TV and radio editorial freedom threatened by senate’s “anachronistic” bill
2 February - Romania
Dismay at constitutional court’s decision to reinstate press offences as crimes
21 July - Romania
Government closes down foreign ministry spoof website
24 February - Romania
Plea for charges to be dropped against two journalists in defence secrets case

in the annual report
Romania - Annual report 2007
Romania - 2006 Annual report

Europe press releases
4 June - Kosovo
Rrokum TV station still excluded by national broadcasting network
2 June - Ukraine
Potential witness’s death deals severe blow to probe into journalist’s murder
2 June - Turkey
Woman journalist held for past five weeks on baseless charge of link to armed group
2 June - Russia
Journalist seeks asylum in Finland after being convicted for prison torture articles
29 May - France
Regrettable decision by appeal court to lift ban on magazine only if offending photo is covered up

5 February 2009 - Bulgaria
“Resignation or resistance, Bulgaria’s embattled press hesitates”
28 January 2009 - Russia
Fact-finding visit : Moscow double murder may have been linked to November attack on local newspaper editor
27 June 2008 - Turkey
Investigation report into the detention of journalist Haci Bogatekin, imprisoned for more than two months and facing ten and a half years in prison

Sign the petitions
Jusuf Ruzimuradov

Europe archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives