Case of European Court of Human Rights, September 17, 2009 (case Manole and Others v. Moldova)

Resolution Date:September 17, 2009
SUMMARY

Preliminary objection dismissed Violation of Art. 10 Just satisfaction reserved

 
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Information Note on the Court’s case-law No. 122

August-September 2009

Manole and Others v. Moldova - 13936/02

Judgment 17.9.2009 [Section IV]

Article 10

Article 10-1

Freedom of expression

Insufficient statutory guarantees of independence of public broadcaster: violation

Facts – The applicants were employed by Teleradio-Moldova (TRM), a State-owned company which at the material time was the only national television and radio station in Moldova. According to the applicants, TRM had, throughout its existence, been subjected to political control. This had worsened after February 2001 when the Communist Party won a large majority in Parliament. In particular, senior managers were removed and replaced by persons loyal to the Government. Only a trusted group of journalists were used for reports of a political nature, which were edited to present the ruling party in a favourable light. Journalists were reprimanded for using expressions which reflected negatively on the Soviet period or suggested cultural and linguistic links with Romania. Interviews were cut and programmes were taken off the air for similar reasons. Opposition parties were allowed only very limited opportunity to express their views. Journalists transgressing these policies were subjected to disciplinary measures and even interrogated by the police. In the first half of 2002, following a strike by TRM staff demanding an end to censorship, two of the applicants were subjected to disciplinary sanctions.

In April 2002 the Moldovan Audiovisual Coordinating Council published its conclusions on the question of alleged TRM censorship. It found that certain words and topics were indeed prohibited in TRM’s reports, but dismissed other allegations of censorship as excuses used by the journalists to cover their lack of professionalism.

In July 2002 following the transformation of TRM into a public company, its staff were required to sit examinations to be confirmed in their posts. Four of the applicants, together with a large number of the journalists who had been on strike earlier that year, were not retained. Their appeals were dismissed. Nineteen members of staff who attended a press conference in the wake of the dismissals were banned from entering TRM premises. TRM’s change of status had followed a resolution by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe calling on Moldova to reform its broadcasting service and end television censorship. Although an independent expert was...

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