Journalistic Investigations Under Threat

Journalistic Investigations Under Threat
03 July 2020 | 11:58

In March 2019, several provisions in the Civil Code entered into force. These provisions aim to protect one’s image, which significantly reduces the right of journalists to inform society about topics of public interest, Media Azi concluded after asking several lawyers. 

The former Government led by Pavel Filip, the current President of the Democratic Party, introduced and adopted several amendments to the Civil Code in July 2018. According to the authors, the project aims to modernize the law and transpose several European rules. 

Media Azi asked several lawyers about the new provision in the Civil Code, which will reduce the right of journalists to inform society about topics of public interest. Subsequently, according to lawyer Tatiana Puiu, the new provision clashes with the Law on Freedom of Expression, which allows the photographing, filming, and use of a person’s image without their consent in order to inform about issues of public interest. 

The President of the Association for the Protection of Privacy, Sergiu Bozianu, explained that publishing video/ audio sequences targeting public figures allegedly committing criminal acts would be a violation of the right to privacy. Subsequently, before publishing the video/ audio sequences featuring them, the journalists will have to obtain these persons’ consent.

Bozianu also mentioned that the new provisions will also prohibit journalists and the media institutions are not allowed to film/ photograph public persons in a recreational place, personal car, and/ or other space, even if these persons, by their deeds, provokes a certain public interest.

According to Sergiu Bozianu, other provisions of the law would make “any journalistic investigation impossible,” adding that anyone disturbed by investigations could intimidate and reduce to zero the media’s right to inform society about matters of public interest. Moreover, the provisions of the Civil Code have priority over the rules of the laws on freedom of expression and access to information, as they have recently been adopted.

Recently, the representatives of several media NGOs discussed a project to improve access to information legislation. The experts propose adding to the Civil Code a provision according to which “the processing of personal data of public interest by the media is not a violation under the Law on Access to Information and the Law on Freedom of Expression”.

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