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Lack of access to information impacts ability to report on Moldovan elections

Members of a local electoral commission count ballots after a presidential election at a polling station in Chisinau, 30 October 2016
Members of a local electoral commission count ballots after a presidential election at a polling station in Chisinau, 30 October 2016

REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

This statement was originally published on freedomhouse.org on 7 November 2016.

In response to new, significant challenges facing independent journalists in their coverage of candidates in Moldova's first direct presidential election in 16 years, Freedom House issued the following statement:

"The lack of transparency about campaign contributions and the Central Electoral Commission's failure to respond to reporting on candidates' corruption or illegal actions undermine Moldova's promised reforms," said Robert Herman, vice president for international programs. "Journalists' lack of access to key information raises serious concerns about the government's commitment to freedom of expression as a core democratic value. The Electoral Commission should improve public access to information on presidential candidates before the second round of voting on November 13."

Background:

In the lead-up to its first direct presidential elections in 16 years, Freedom House, its partners Ziarul de Garda and the Center of Investigative Journalism (CIJM), and other independent media outlets, including the Association of Independent Press, encountered serious barriers to reporting. These include campaign finance laws that obstruct journalists' access to key information; and the proliferation of false information, hate speech, and internet trolls, as well as their influence on the free flow of information to citizens.

During Moldova's Universal Periodic Review (Second Cycle) before the United Nations on November 4, nine countries, among them Norway, Austria, Germany, France, Spain, Ireland, and Latvia, recommended that Moldova make concerted efforts to improve press freedom, particularly by allowing greater access to information for journalists and addressing the challenge of media concentration in the country.

Moldova is rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2016, Partly Free in Freedom of the Press 2016, and receives a democracy score of 4.89, on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 as the worst possible score, in Nations in Transit 2016.

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