Moldovan journalists win freedom of expression case at European Court of Human Rights – EU-OCS
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled against the Moldovan authorities, and in favor of the investigative media RISE Moldova after the latter was sued for defamation.
The action was brought against an article alleging that the 2016 presidential election campaign of the Moldovan Socialist Party received off the coast financing from Russia. The leader of the Socialist Party, Igor Dodon, assumed the presidency the same year.
âThe European Court of Human Rights has unanimously found that there has been a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights. noted in a press release.
RISE Moldova was also awarded 3,800 euros in damages, costs and expenses by the court.
In September 2016, RISE Moldova published an article titled âDodon’s Bahamas moneyâ, in which the media reported that an offshore Bahamas-based company linked to Russia had transferred 1.5 million euros to a Moldovan company in 2016 The head of this company was a member of the Socialist Party, and had close ties to Igor Dodon.
According to the RISE Moldova article, these funds arrived in Moldova just months before the 2016 presidential elections. At least a third of the money was withdrawn in cash to be distributed to people with links to the Socialist Party. , in the form of “free loans“.
In response to the article, the Socialist Party initiated civil libel action, arguing that if there had been illegalities in the funding of the party, then the Socialist Party and Igor Dodon would be banned from participating in the elections.
In December 2017, the Centru District Court of First Instance ruled in favor of the Socialist Party, and the decision was challenged by RISE Moldova. After Moldova’s Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of Justice dismissed the legal challenges, RISE Moldova director Iurie Sanduta lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights in January 2019.
âThe Moldovan judges ruled in favor of Dodon, who had already become president. We decided to go to the ECHR and fight for freedom of expression because our investigation had a lot of evidence which proved exactly the facts described in the journalistic investigation â, noted Sanduta.
âToday’s decision is a strong encouragement for Moldovan journalists and investigative reporters to do their job honestly and without fear of frequent pressure from corrupt politicians.
“Demonstrators camped near the European Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg” through Bee of Arran is licensed under CC BY 2.0