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Moldova has been a regional leader in open government, but the media recently launched a campaign to highlight backtracking on commitments to greater transparency.14 February 2017
A public awareness campaign has been launched in Moldova against officials who use the law on personal data protection to deny journalists and civil society leaders access to detailed information about the work of state bodies.
On 27 January, newspapers and media outlets in Moldova, which support the campaign, ran their news bulletins without any official names. They omitted public names from the aired news, left blank spaces instead of names and figures in print, and masked faces and pixelated photos. By doing so, the journalists were trying to alert the public that if they are denied basic information about the work of the state bodies, there will be no news. If there is no news, there is no control over how public funds are being spent. And in this situation, corruption becomes rampant.
Journalists and civil society leaders have been concerned with an increase in the number of cases when journalists investigating corruption cases were denied access to information. Officials regularly use the law on personal data protection to limit access to information and to classify personal information. Journalists have also encountered increased threats when probing into corruption cases.
“Bureaucrats use the law on personal data as a [tool to] cover [things] up. Personal data protection has become the most convenient tool to protect corrupt state authorities,” says Galina Bostan, director of the Center for Analysis and Corruption Prevention.
The U.S. Embassy in Moldova has been following these developments. “The U.S. Embassy is carefully monitoring the situation with the freedom of press in Moldova,” said the embassy’s press attache, Jed Wolfington. “Investigative journalism plays a very important role in preventing corruption. We continue to support journalists in their attempt to disclose corrupt officials.”
Here are some of the front pages of the newspapers that supported the campaign:
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