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Transport minister files lawsuit against two media outlets

(IJC/IFEX) - 25.05.2011 - Moldovan media non-governmental organizations condemn the drawing of the media into conflicts or disputes between state and private institutions, when the nature of the conflict compels the media to convey the story to the public. The major task of the press in a democratic society is to communicate ideas and opinions on matters of public interest.

Herein we note the fact that two media outlets, "Unimedia" and "Timpul de dimineata", are being sued by Minister of Transport Anatol Salaru. The media outlets in question have been summoned to appear before the Chisinau District Court as co-defendants, along with the main defendant, the private Air Company "Moldovian Airlines". Earlier this year Minister Salaru and the private company engaged in a dispute over the alleged monopoly established by the state Air Company "Air Moldova" over the national air market. In a press release dated 14 April, the director of "Moldovian Airlines" accused the Ministry of Transport and "Air Moldova" of covering up fraudulent schemes within the aviation industry. Minister Salaru sued the two media outlets for publishing the press release of the private air company in a report, which also reflected the position of the other side, in this case the Ministry of Transport.

The signatory organizations denounce the actions of Minister Salaru and deem them unacceptable in a democratic society where the press bears the right and the obligation to inform on public matters based on its professional standards. We note that the activity of any public servant, including that of the Minister of Transport, is and ought to fall under the scrutiny of the mass media in order to enhance transparency and responsibility.

We recommend that public persons respond with tolerance towards criticism in the press, especially during the electoral campaign.

Independent Journalism Center
Independent Press Association
Electronic Media Association
Committee for Press Freedom
Center for Investigative Journalism
"Access-info" Center

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