Release by Press-Service of the Pridnestrovian Foreign Ministry on some International Legal Aspects of the Pridnestrovian Journalists’ Work in the Territory of the Republic of Moldova

Release by Press-Service of the Pridnestrovian Foreign Ministry on some International Legal Aspects of the Pridnestrovian Journalists’ Work in the Territory of the Republic of Moldova

As previously reported, during the meeting of the political representatives of Pridnestrovie and the Republic of Moldova on February 7, 2014 in the Tiraspol OSCE Office, the Pridnestrovian side expressed concern over the detention of Pridnestrovian journalists on the Moldovan border near the village Gyrbovets by Moldova's representatives of law enforcement bodies. (For more details see “Statement by Press Service of the MFA of the PMR). It should be reminded that journalists of the First Pridnestrovian TV channel moved to Gagauzia for covering the referendum, however they were not allowed entering the territory of ATU, were stopped and interrogated by Moldovan policemen with the confiscation of passports, inspection and photographing of the vehicle, and then they were removed from the territory of Moldova. In fact, the Pridnestrovian journalists were refused to cover important political events arranged in the Republic of Moldova without giving the reasons.

We recall that during the mentioned meeting in Tiraspol, the political representative of the RM Yevgeny Karpov informed that the “Moldovan police just recommended journalists not to make videos in Gagauzia”. The political representative of Pridnestrovie Nina Shtanski considered the detention of the Pridnestrovian journalists in Moldova as an alarming evidence of a serious violation of freedom of the media. Therefore, the Pridnestrovian side requested clarification and declared the expressed willingness to apply accreditation for Pridnestrovian media on the territory of the RM and to develop an accreditation mechanism regulating the order. The participants noted that such incidents had previously taken place.

With a view to clarify the incident of February 1, 2014, the political representative of Moldova Yevgeny Karpov sent a note to the Pridnestrovian side. Particularly, the note reaffirms that “there are no regulations regarding necessary accreditation for Pridnestrovian journalists for work on the territory of the Republic of Moldova”. It should be emphasized that it was also noted in the document that “The Republic of Moldova guarantees the respect for rights and freedoms of journalists and the media in accordance with international law standards and principles”.

With regard to absence of specific references to the rules of international law in the note, the Press-Service of the MFA of the PMR feels the need to voice the fundamental commitments to media regulation, inter alia adopted by the Republic of Moldova as a member to authoritative international organizations - the United Nations, Council of Europe, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. It seems advisable to draw attention of media community as well as officials who are responsible for the implementation of information policy in the RM.

The fundamental right of every human being is the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas in any legal way and regardless of frontiers.  This provision is stipulated in the Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the first universal international act on human rights.

Subsequently, this right was developed in the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, stipulating that everyone has the right to hold own opinion and to express it freely. This right includes the freedom to seek, receive, and share information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of national borders, either orally, in writing or in print, by means of art, or through any other media of his choice.

The Article 10 of the 1950 European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of the Council of Europe provides the right to share information and ideas without interference by public authority.

The obligation “to facilitate the freer and wider distribution of information of all kinds, to encourage co-operation in the field of information and the exchange of information with other countries”, as well as “to improve the conditions under which journalists from one participating State exercise their professional activity in other participating State” was stipulated in the 1975 Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, (presently the OSCE).

Another document - the Charter for European Security - underlines “the importance of independent media and the free flow of information as well as the public\'s access to information.” In particular, the signatories reaffirm their “obligation to take all necessary steps to ensure the basis conditions for free and independent media and unimpeded transborder and internal flow of information”, which are considered as an essential component of any democratic, free and open society.

Apart from the norms formalised in international law on media freedom which represent the most common, universal principles of equal interest, there are positions of international human rights organizations - the UN Human Rights Council and the European Court of Human Rights, interpreting these norms in one way or another, explaining specific application of these principles. Both structures share the view that ensuring the people's access to information which is interesting to society is only possible on the basis of the pluralism principle. Particularly, in accordance with the ECtHR's position “freedom of expression is one of the basic conditions for the progress of democratic societies and for the development of each individual”, whereas this article refers to the information shared by all authorities as well as to the information which may annoy the state or some part of the population. Therefore, no democratic society is possible without providing the pluralism, tolerance and width of views.

The UN Human Rights Council has the similar point of view concerning human rights and freedoms. Thus, one of its resolutions called on UN States Members to refrain from implementing inter alia restrictions on the “discussion of government policies and political debate; reporting on human rights, government activities and corruption in government; engaging in election campaigns, peaceful demonstrations or political activities, including support of peace or democracy; and expression of opinion and dissent, religion or belief, including by persons belonging to minorities or vulnerable groups”

Thus, freedom of the information as a central attribute of democratic legal state is widely spread and recognized in the international law and international jurisprudence. All these general principles and norms binding on most of world's civilized societies and states were committed by the Republic of Moldova – the member of the UN, the Council of Europe, and the OSCE. Pridnestrovie, in turn, has also implemented the main principles of democracy and human rights in its legislative framework (see Legislation of the Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic in relation to international standards, as well as international treaties agreed by the Supreme Council, the Government, and the President of the PMR). The absence of internationally recognized status which allows participating in international treaties did not become an obstacle to unilateral commitments to ensure human rights and freedoms in Pridnestrovie.

Actually, practical steps do not match declared principles in many recognized “democratic states”. In this context, written or oral verbal guarantees are quite insufficient to ensure rights and freedoms of journalists – there is a need to affirm it by actions. Unfortunately, we cannot find such confirmation in the case of the incident occurred with Pridnestrovian journalists on the border between Moldova and Pridnestrovie.   

The MFA of the PMR stresses that the incident does not conform to the accepted international human rights norms, inter alia rights of representatives of the media.  Under the spurious pretext being not a basis for refusal to enter the territory of the RM, human right to seek and to receive information has been in fact significantly violated. We draw attention of all parties concerned to actions of law enforcement officials of the RM having elements of political censure confirmed by Yevgeny Karpov's words that the “Police of Moldova recommended journalists not to make videos in Gagauzia”. Therefore, there is an open political implication behind which there is grave violation of international obligations guaranteeing rights and freedom of the media.   

The Pridnestrovian side calls on the Moldovan side to refuse selective discriminatory approach regarding inalienable rights of Pridnestrovian journalists and expresses hope that no similar incidents shall occur in future. We reaffirm our willingness to joint development and arrangement of the mechanism ensuring the most transparent conditions for work of Pridnestrovian journalists in the RM, inter alia through the requesting accreditation.