18 January 2007

Alert

Justice minister publicly impugns journalist being tried for "using confidential information", questions his right to criticise


Incident details

Sorin Rosca Stanescu

journalist(s)

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a 17 January 2007 IFJ media release:

Journalists Protest over "Disturbing" Comments of Romanian Justice Minister

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is backing the Romanian media's protests over "disturbing and inappropriate" comments made by Romanian Justice Minister Monica Macovei, which they say violate the rights of one of the country's leading journalists by publicly questioning his newspaper's right to criticise her.

Following comments by Justice Minister Macovei, veteran journalist Sorin Rosca Stanescu, director of the newspaper ZIUA, lodged a complaint accusing her of abusing her authority.

His action follows public comments by the minister that suggested Stanescu and his newspaper have no right to criticise her ministry while he is a defendant in a court case in which he is accused of having used confidential information.

"A journalist facing trial has the right to expect the assumption of innocence until his case is dealt with, particularly from the Minister of Justice" said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "When such a high-ranking official appears to undermine this principle it is both disturbing and inappropriate."

White said that the IFJ and its European regional group, the European Federation of Journalists, were supporting their Romanian affiliate MediaSind, which has described this as "another case" of abuse of journalists' rights by justice officials.

The minister sparked the controversy when she made public comments which have been widely reported. She mentioned the ongoing trial against ZIUA Director Stanescu, suggesting that he and his newspaper's journalists should ease their pressure on the Ministry of Justice, because of his own "trouble with justice."

This perceived interference has angered many observers who believe it implies Stanescu is guilty in advance of his trial and could be interpreted as pressure on the judges who will hear the case. The judges handling the case are appointed by the Justice Minister.

Stanescu has submitted petitions asking the Senate House and to the Chamber of Deputies to take action against the minister. He has also lodged a court action against her.

"This is a moment when a minister should remain silent in the interests of justice," said White. "Neither justice nor press freedom is served by trying to use this case to avoid legitimate press scrutiny."

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries worldwide.



Source

International Federation of Journalists
International Press Centre, Residence Palace
Bloc C, second floor, Rue de la Loi, 155
1040 Brussels
Belgium
Fax:+32 2 2352219
 
More from Romania
  • FreeEx Report - Annual press freedom in Romania 2015-2016

    The purpose of this report is to offer an outline of the main events and trends regarding freedom of speech and, in particular, media freedom.

  • Freedom of the Press 2016: Romania

  • The Charlie Hebdo Effect in the Balkans

    This report scrutinizes legislation covering freedom of expression and religious freedom in the Balkans, and whether satire and blasphemy are in any way regulated in these countries.