International Conference on improving enforcement of the right to information in the Republic of Moldova, 9 June 2022

(Source: EEAS)

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  • Dear Minister, dear colleagues, dear participants,
  • It is a great pleasure for me to take part in the Conference on “Improving enforcement of the right to information in the Republic of Moldova”.
  • The Conference shows not only importance of the topic but also a nice synergy and cooperation of the three institutions involved in the organisation: the European Union, the Council of Europe and the Ministry of Justice.
  • We have all the same objective: to support the Republic of Moldova to build a good and transparent system of free access to public information, which will work in practice.
  • Access to information of public interest is recognised as an important human right and a tool to improve democratic governance. It reinforces public participation, accountability of public authorities and public trust in decision-making.
  • Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.
  • Similarly, article 34 of the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova provides that the public right of access to information cannot be restricted, and public authorities are required to properly inform citizens.
  • Over the three decades of Moldova’s independence, access to information has been called out as one of the most pressing issues confronting the media, and by extension all Moldovan citizens.
  • Although certain laws have been adopted aiming to ensure the right of every citizen to request and receive information from public institutions, the available data shows there has been little real improvement.
  • The main challenges for access to information have changed little over the past 20 years, and include the following: excessive oligarchisation and politicisation of the media sector; outdated legislation and bureaucratic systems; and the reluctance of authorities to provide information of public interest by supplying incomplete or confusing information, invoking the Law on Personal Data Protection, State, and Commercial Secrets; and imposing prohibitive fees for accessing information.
  • We encourage and support the Republic of Moldova to improve its existing legal framework on access to information to meet the needs of the current reality.
  • The Law on Access to Information was adopted by Parliament back in 2000 and needs important improvement. Even though in 2017–18, amendments to the Law were proposed by civil society media organisations, media experts, lawyers and international organisations, these proposals did not come to force because of lack of political will at the time.
  • Currently Ministry of Justice, supported by the EU-Moldova Association project, funded by the EU, is namely drafting a new Law on Free access to public information, which should replace the current one from 2000, which does not provide satisfactory implementation.
  • Moldova signed and ratified Council of Europe Trømso Convention, which already entered into force and request legislative changes above all on introducing proactive transparency, upgrade the procedural issues, clearly set up definitions and a boundary between Free access to public info and Personal data protection.
  • It is of utmost importance to secure that any legislative guarantees of proactive transparency or standards for processing public information requests are not dead letter, but effective legal remedies exist in order to enforce them.
  • We hope that this event will open broader public discussion on the key aspects of the new law on access to public information. We are happy to see here also representatives of media and civil society. They should remain key partner to the Government in the process of developing and implementing the new transparency legislation.
  • One last, but not of least importance, is that the adjustment of the legislation on access to information is only a first step in this sense, a very important one. A step which must be followed by a change of attitude and mentality both among citizens and especially among public servants and institutions.
  • Access to information is, must and needs to be the defining element of a true democracy. And, in the last 2 years, the Republic of Moldova has showed that it is and wants to be a true democracy.
  • Vă mulțumesc.
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