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THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNALISTS' NETWORK IJNet - Issue #277
October 4, 2004

 PRESS BILL WOULD RESTRICT COVERAGE OF POLITICIANS

 Romanian media watchdogs, newspapers and radio stations are protesting government plans to re-introduce a controversial bill that would limit press activities, the Reuters news agency reported.

Under the planned legislation, reporters would not be allowed to take photos or videotape the houses of politicians without permission. They would also be liable for exposing the wealth of public figures.

Romanian media have often exposed the wealth of government officials and parliamentarians, many of whom are also part of the country's new business elite and live in expensive villas in exclusive suburbs.

The bill, drafted by Ionel Olteanu of the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD), was first submitted to parliament in April but was withdrawn after protests. Olteanu said he re-introduced the bill after "fine-tuning" it to protect personal privacy and freedom of expression.

In a joint open letter, 11 press watchdogs, newspapers and radio stations, asked parliament to reject the bill, which they called a "a brutal breach of freedom of expression."

"It's disheartening to see such an anti-European project surfacing from time to time because MPs don't like to have their wealth scrutinized," Ioana Avadani, the executive director of the Centre for Independent Journalism, told Reuters.

Defenders of the bill insisted it was in line with EU legislation.

"We are all, including MPs, equal before the law," Ionel Olteanu told Reuters.

 

For more information, visit http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L27217821.htm:

 Romanian press groups slam politician privacy bill
27 Sep 2004 16:33:24 GMT
Source: Reuters 

By Radu Marinas

BUCHAREST, Sept 27 (Reuters) - Romanian media watchdogs, newspapers and radio stations on Monday slammed the ruling ex-communists for trying to re-introduce a controversial bill banning reporters from taking pictures of politicians' villas.

Romanian media has often exposed the wealth of government officials and parliamentarians, many of whom are also part of the country's new business elite. Many live in luxurious new villas in Bucharest's leafy suburbs and drive expensive cars.

The Transparency International watchdog rates Romania as one of the most corrupt countries in the region and the European Union candidate has also criticized the candidate country for its human rights record and poor press freedoms.

"It's disheartening to see such an anti-European project surfacing from time to time because MPs don't like to have their wealth scrutinised," Ioana Avadani, director of the Centre for Independent Journalism, said of the bill.

In a joint open letter, 11 press watchdogs, newspapers and radio stations, asked parliament to reject the bill branded as "a brutal breach of freedom of expression."

Defenders of the bill which penalises reporters for publishing the wealth of public figures said it aimed to protect privacy and insisted it was in line with EU legislation.

"We are all, including MPs, equal before the law," said the bill's author Ionel Olteanu of the ruling Social Democrat Party.

Under the bill, which was first submitted to parliament in April and then withdrawn after protests, public officials can sue for damages anyone photographing or filming their houses without permission.

Olteanu said he re-introduced the bill after "fine-tuning" it to both protect personal privacy and freedom of expression.

The EU has warned the Balkan country its 2007 entry goal was at risk unless it improves its human rights record and prosecutes those behind about 20 violent attacks on reporters investigating graft in the last 18 months.

 

source: IJNet 277
published by: Daniela Mathis dma@medienhilfe.ch date of release on this site 05/10/04 

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