People’s Advocate: Freedom of expression, including free and timely flow of information, is an essential factor for the media’s ability to report pandemic issues
The People’s Advocate requests the Commission for Exceptional Situations to exclude the provisions by which the deadline for responding to requests for information of public interest during the state of emergency has been tripled
In an endeavor submitted to the chairman of the Commission for Exceptional Situations, the Prime Minister, Ion Chicu, the Ombudsman reminds that, according to the provisions of article 34 of the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova, the right of a person to have access to any information of public interest cannot be restricted. At the same time, in the decision interpreting article 34 paragraph (3) of the Constitution, the Constitutional Court emphasizes that the right to information is a precondition for the enforcement of other rights, namely political, economic and social rights; the right to protection of privacy, the right to take part in public affairs, the right to a fair trial, etc.
The People’s Advocate also notes that UN experts in the field of freedom of opinion and expression have recommended that governments promote and protect the free access and flow of information during the pandemic. International experts call on all governments to implement their laws on freedom of information, in order to ensure that all people, especially journalists, have access to information.
The Ombudsman also refers to the Council of Europe’s guide for governments throughout Europe on respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law during the COVID-19, crisis, which states that freedom of expression, including free flow and in time for information, it is a key factor in the media’s ability to report pandemic issues.
CoE experts also stress that journalists, media institutions, especially public ones, have a key role and a special responsibility for providing timely, accurate and reliable information, but also for preventing panic and encouraging people’s cooperation. Any restrictions on access to official information must be exceptional and proportionate for the purpose of protecting public health.
2020 04 16
Department for Promotion
of Human Rights and Communication
Department for Public Policies and Law
 DCC no. 19 of June 22, 2015