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11 Jul 2019 Lvl. 1
State replied
Alert created on: 14 Jun 2019 n° 70/2019 Romania

Romanian Investigative Journalist Diana Oncioiu Receives Anonymous Death Threat

Source of threatUnknown
CategoryHarassment and intimidation of journalists
Partner CPJ AEJ
Partner CPJ AEJ
On 11 June 2019, an unidentified man using an anonymous phone number called Diana Oncioiu, an investigative reporter at independent news websites Dela0 and Sa Fie Lumina, and threatened to kill her if she continued to write about the Romanian Orthodox Church, according to the reporter.

Oncioiu filed a criminal complaint with the Bucharest police after receiving the call. In an interview with the Romanian edition of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a U.S. Congress-funded media outlet, Oncioiu said that the threat was likely related to her ongoing investigative work into allegations of pedophilia and other abuses at a theological seminary in Huși, a town in Eastern Romania.

Sa Fie Lumina confirmed that a threat had been made against one of its reporters and vowed to continue its investigative work into alleged sexual abuse at the seminary. Speaking with Romanian news website HotNews, Vasile Bănescu, a spokesperson for the Romanian Orthodox Church, rejected any association with the threats and said he hoped the perpetrator would be identified.
State replies
11 Jul 2019
Response from the Romanian authorities
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11 Jun 2019 Lvl. 1
Resolved
Alert created on: 07 Oct 2018 n° 110/2018 Bulgaria

Bulgarian Journalist Viktoria Marinova Killed

Source of threatUnknown
CategoryAttacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists
Partner AEJ CPJ EFJ/IFJ Index PEN
Partner AEJ CPJ EFJ/IFJ Index PEN
Bulgarian journalist and TV presenter Viktoria Marinova was found dead on 6 October 2018 in a park in the northern city of Ruse, where she had reportedly been out jogging. A regional prosecutor said she had suffered blows to the head and had died from suffocation. Bulgarian Interior Minister Mladen Marinov told journalists that the thirty year old journalist had also been raped. Her mobile phone, car keys, glasses and some of her clothes were also missing. The minister stated that no evidence had been found to suggest the killing was related to her work, and that officials were unaware of any information that she had been threatened. The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media urged the Bulgarian authorities to investigate thoroughly to determine whether or not the attack was linked to her work. Bulgarian media voiced concern that Marinova may have been targeted on account of her recent TV appearances. They pointed out that on 30 September she had presented an investigative programme called ‘Detector’ on the private regional TV channel TVN, which featured interviews by another colleague with two well-known Bulgarian and Romanian journalists about their investigation into the alleged misappropriation of EU funds by politicians and businessmen. The owner of investigative journalism website Bivol.bg, Asen Yordanov, was cited by media as saying that the journalists who appeared on the TV programme were in danger because of their investigation into the issue, which has for some time been the focus of fierce controversy. Mr Yordanov suggested that Ms Marinova’s murder had been meant as a warning to other journalists. In October 2017, hundreds of Bulgarian journalists staged a public protest in Sofia after Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov and another senior politician threatened a TV journalist with dismissal for asking probing questions about sensitive political matters on air.
Resolved
11 Jun 2019: On 22 April 2019, a court in Bulgaria sentenced to 30 years in prison a man found guilty of killing journalist Victoria Marinova. According to the judgment the crime was not related to her profession. On 11 June 2019, the partner organisations to the Platform declared this case to be “resolved”, concluding it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.
Updates
23 Apr 2019
On 22 April 2019, a court in Bulgaria has sentenced to 30 years in prison a man found guilty of killing journalist Victoria Marinova.
11 Oct 2018
On 10 October 2018, police in Germany have detained a man in connection with the rape and killing of Viktoria Marinova.
State replies
Follow-ups
12 Oct 2018
OSCE media freedom representative welcomes progress in investigation of killing of Bulgarian journalist, urges full and thorough investigation.
09 Oct 2018
Co-rapporteurs of the PACE for post-monitoring dialogue with Bulgaria appalled by the murder of the journalist Viktoria Marinova urge the Bulgarian authorities to thoroughly investigate her murder and abuse immediately.
08 Oct 2018
CoE Secretary General calls on the Bulgarian authorities to rapidly conduct a thorough investigation of the horrific killing of investigative reporter Viktoria Marinova.
08 Oct 2018
CoE Human Rights Commissioner calls on the authorities to urgently and fully investigate this horrendous crime and ensure that those responsible, including the masterminds, are held accountable.
08 Oct 2018
OSCE Representative shocked by murder of Bulgarian journalist, calls for justice and thorough investigation.
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01 Mar 2019 Lvl. 2
State replied
Alert created on: 22 Jan 2019 n° 12/2019 Romania

Romanian Media Regulator Imposes 10-minute Blackout on Realitatea TV

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner Index
Partner Index
Romania's media regulator, the National Audiovisual Council (CNA), announced that it was imposing a 10-minute blackout on privately-owned Realitatea TV to punish it for what the CNA said were shortcomings in the news channel's coverage of a mass anti-government protest in Bucharest on 10 August 2018. The suspension of transmission was put into effect during the peak viewing period on the evening of 17 January 2019. According to the CNA's ruling, the Council decided to impose this penalty because an analysis of Realitatea's coverage of the protest showed that it had failed to fulfil its obligation "to ensure that viewers are objectively informed by presenting them with the correct facts". Romanian freedom of expression NGO Active Watch accused the regulator of double standards, pointing out that when the channels Antena 3 and România TV were found guilty of a comparable misdemeanour in 2017, they were merely fined, not taken off-air.
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07 Jan 2019 Lvl. 1
Resolved
Alert created on: 06 Dec 2018 n° 137/2018 Romania

Turkish Journalist Kamil Demirkaya Detained in Romania

Source of threatState
CategoryDetention and imprisonment of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ CPJ
Partner EFJ/IFJ CPJ
On 5 December 2018, Turkish journalist Kamil Demirkaya was detained by the Romanian police and brought before the Court of Appeal in Bucharest on the basis of an extradition request issued by the Turkish authorities. Demirkaya was editor-in-chief of Zaman-Bulgaria media outlet between 2003 and 2011. He returned to Turkey but moved to Bucharest with his family in 2016. The extradition request is related to accusations of membership to the Gülen movement or ''FETÖ'' illegal terrorist organisation as referred by the Turkish government's lexicon. According to Demirkaya's family, the verdict should be issued on 6 December. The journalist has been living in Romania for two years now with his wife and his son, holding only a temporary residence permit. In November 2018, he filed for the extension of the residence permit, the documents are being processed by the Romanian authorities. He has no criminal record and has not committed any crime in Turkey according to documents present on the Turkish Ministry of Justice website. FAIR-MediaSind, the Romanian union of journalists, expressed its solidarity with Kamil Demirkaya and asked the authorities to release him. Romanian MEP Cristian Preda has warned that if Romania extradites the Turkish journalist, it will "lose all credibility in Brussels”. "Demirkaye runs the Zaman newspaper's Bucharest office, which criticises the Erdogan regime. Nothing is more honest,” Preda wrote on his Facebook page. He said the Romanian authorities should respect the international commitments they had made not to extradite citizens to countries where human rights are in danger, and Turkey is one such country.
Resolved
07 Jan 2019: On 7 January 2019, considering that the journalist has been released and the extradition request rejected, the partner organisations to the Platform declared this case to be “resolved”, concluding it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.
Updates
14 Dec 2018
On 14 December, a Bucharest Court of Appeal judge rejected Turkey’s request to extradite Turkish journalist Kamil Demirkaye.
State replies
20 Dec 2018
Reply from the Romanian authorities
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19 Nov 2018 Lvl. 2
State replied
Alert created on: 12 Nov 2018 n° 125/2018 Romania

Data Protection Authority Requests the Disclosure of Journalistic Sources

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner EFJ/IFJ AEJ CPJ Index
Partner EFJ/IFJ AEJ CPJ Index
On 8 November 2018, the Romanian Data Protection Authority (ANSPDCP) ordered investigative outlet RISE Project to reveal its sources for reporting on an alleged European Union fund fraud that may involve the leader of the Social Democratic Party PSD, Liviu Nicolae Dragnea. The authority’s letter cites the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as a basis for ordering RISE Project to reveal its sources. According to the letter, failure to respond within 10 days could lead to a fine of 3,000 lei (650 euros) per day, and additional fines up to a maximum of 20 million euros. The head of the data protection agency is a Social Democrat Party member who ran for parliament on the party's lists.
State replies
Follow-ups
19 Nov 2018
OSCE media freedom representative calls for protection of journalists' right to confidential sources in Romania
17 Nov 2018
Noting with concern that Romania’s data protection authority recently requested that RISE Project ... disclose information on the sources of their investigative report on a case of alleged fraud involving European funds, or face the threat of a 20 million Euro fine in case of non-compliance, the CoE Commissioner for Human Rights urged the Romanian authorities to withdraw these measures and avoid similar cases in the future.
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04 Sep 2018 Lvl. 1
State replied
Alert created on: 14 Aug 2018 n° 82/2018 Romania

Journalists Beaten by Riot Police During Bucharest Protest

Source of threatState
CategoryAttacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ AEJ Index
Partner EFJ/IFJ AEJ Index
Several journalists have been beaten by the Romanian riot police during the violent clashes between the police and anti-government protesters in Bucharest on the evening of 10 August 2018. Romanian gendarmes assaulted and verbally attacked with no reason journalists covering the protest around Victoriei Square, in Bucharest. Cases of physical attacks were reported by journalists Robert Mihăilescu (Hotnews.ro), Cristi Stefanescu (DW) and Vlad Ursulean (Casa Jurnalistului), by photojournalists Ioana Moldovan (Documentaria.ro) and Silviu Matei (Agerpres) and by reporter Cristian Popa and cameraperson Cristi Ban (Digi24 news TV). A camera operator of the Austrian public television operator ORF, Robert Reinprecht, was also beaten by the riot police after the square was cleared. The clashes left 452 wounded, including journalists. The Romanian union of journalists MediaSind issued a statement calling on Romanian authorities to sanction "the gendarmes who acted illegally and those who gave the orders."
Follow-ups
16 Aug 2018
Greatly concerned by violence against journalists during recent protests, the OSCE representative calls on authorities to swiftly investigate the incidents.
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03 May 2018 Lvl. 2
State replied
Alert created on: 15 Mar 2016 n° 37/2016 Romania

Threats to the Independence of the Romanian Public Broadcaster (TVR)

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner EFJ/IFJ AEJ
Partner EFJ/IFJ AEJ
Romanian public broadcaster TVR is facing financial collapse caused by a chaotic management and the government’s decision to freeze the TV tax at the level of 2003 (4 Romanian lei, which is the lowest rate in Europe). A package of proposed amendments to the Romanian Public Broadcaster Law (41/1994), which has been announced by several politicians, will make possible for the TVR to be declared insolvent. The Romanian union of journalists, MediaSind, fears this procedure could legitimise the government’s control on public broadcasting. MediaSind called on Romanian authorities to protect TVR from political interference, including by refraining from imposing restrictions on public broadcasting funding.
Updates
03 May 2018
On 3 May 2018, the Romanian President Klaus Yohannis asked the national Parliament to review its proposed amendments to Article 19 of the Romanian Public Broadcaster Law (no. 41/1994), on ground that they contain unclear provisions.
15 Jan 2018
On 18 December 2017, the Romanian President Klaus Iohannis asked the national Parliament to rewiew its proposed amendments to the Romanian Public Broadcaster Law (41/1994), on ground that they contain unclear provisions which are likely to jeopardise the proper functionsing of the Romanian public broadcaster.
01 Feb 2017
On 6 January 2017, the President of Romania promulgated the bill on the elimination of over 100 non-fiscal taxes, including the radio-TV licence tax. The law entered into force on 1 February 2017.
Follow-ups
13 May 2016
The Secretary General writes to the Prime Minister of Romania.
Relevant CoE instruments Disclaimer
Disclaimer
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13 Nov 2017 Lvl. 2
State replied
Alert created on: 09 Oct 2017 n° 114/2017 Romania

Draft Law Threatens Independence of AGERPRES News Agency

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner EFJ/IFJ RSF
Partner EFJ/IFJ RSF
A new draft law, which risks threatening the independence of the national news agency AGERPRES, will be discussed on 11 October 2017 by the Romanian Parliament. The draft law foresees that any political majority could decide to dismiss the director-general by rejecting AGERPRES’ anual report, whereas the current law stipulates that the director-general has a 5-year mandate and cannot be biased, meaning promoting the ideas, the programmes and the activities of the political parties. Such provisions would have the same impact as the legislation regulating the management of the Romanian Radio Broadcasting Corporation (SRR) and the Romanian National Television Corporation (SRTV): following each election, the SRR and SRTV administration boards can be dismissed before the end of their mandates to reflect the new political forces and many media freedom organisations had denounced this provision as an instrument to politicize the public service media.

In a letter addressed to Parliament, AGERPRES’ general-director and the Romanian trade union of journalists said: “We believe that the proposed modification opens the path to a political subordination of the AGERPRES management. (…) Any political force could find that the director-general is not ‘loyal’ enough to the government, regardless of the quality of the work, for political reasons only. It must be abandoned.” The draft law has been initiated and submitted by Lucian Romascanu, now Minister of Culture, while he was president of the Culture Committee of the Romanian Senate. The proposal was also signed by four other senators.
Updates
31 Oct 2017
On 30 October 2017, the Romanian Senate voted the law with 64 votes in favour, 16 against and 27 abstentions. The law is now supposed to be submitted to the National Assembly.
State replies
13 Nov 2017
Response from the Romanian authorities
Follow-ups
02 May 2017
The CoE Commissioner for Human Rights details the prerequisites for well-funded and strong public service media.
Relevant CoE instruments Disclaimer
15 Dec 2016
Recommendation CM/Rec(2012)1 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on public service media governance (Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 15 February 2012 at the 1134th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies)
Disclaimer
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02 May 2017 Lvl. 2
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 21 Oct 2016 n° 112/2016 Romania

Romania to Eliminate Public Broadcast Fee

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner EFJ/IFJ AEJ Index
No state reply yet
Partner EFJ/IFJ AEJ Index
On 17 October 2016, the Romanian Senate approved a draft law to eliminate the monthly TV and radio licence fee and to introduce direct funding of public service media from the state budget. The proposal, initiated by the Social-Democrats leader Liviu Dragnea, has come just a few weeks ahead the general elections. The measure, highly significant for the future of public broadcasting in Romania, was buried in a draft law proposing the elimination of 102 non-fiscal taxes. The draft bill is now to be discussed in the Chamber of Deputies. The Romanian Federation of Culture and Mass-Media FAIR-MediaSind, the Center for Independent Journalism, ActiveWatch and the Convention of Media Organizations are calling the Members of the Parliament to reject the draft bill, which would increase the political dependency of the public broadcaster. The journalists’ organisations in Romania insist that the licence fees are the best way to guarantee the editorial independence of public service media, reducing the risk of political interference. The licence fee represents 67.56% of the incomes for the public television, and 49% for the public radio. The current rate of the TV fee is 0.8 EUR per month, the lowest in Europe, and the radio fee is 0.6 EUR per month. Following a recent study from the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the licence fee system is shown to be the most stable, transparent and adaptable way to fund Public Service Media.
Updates
01 Feb 2017
On 6 January 2017, the President of Romania promulgated the bill on the elimination of over 100 non-fiscal taxes, including the radio-TV licence tax. The law entered into force on 1 February 2017.
26 Oct 2016
On 25 October 2016, the Lower Chamber of the Romanian Parliament adopted the bill providing for the elimination of over 100 non-fiscal taxes, including the radio-TV licence tax, rejecting the amendments of the special commission which would have seen the radio-TV licence tax remaining in force.
Follow-ups
02 May 2017
The CoE Commissioner for Human Rights details the prerequisites for well-funded and strong public service media.
15 Dec 2016
Statement by the participants at the ‘Public Service Media and Democracy’ Conference organized by the Council of Europe, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Czech Television and the European Broadcasting Union (10th-11th November 2016, Prague)
Relevant CoE instruments Disclaimer
15 Dec 2016
Recommendation CM/Rec(2012)1 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on public service media governance (Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 15 February 2012 at the 1134th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies
Disclaimer
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20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Mehmet Altan’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Altan’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Altan’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.

20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Şahin Alpay’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Alpay’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 46 (binding force and execution of judgments) of the Convention, the Court held that it was incumbent on the respondent State to ensure the termination of Mr Alpay’s pre-tria detention at the earliest possible date. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Alpay’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.
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