CSOs document deteriorating space for civil society and media actors
The Radiography of Attacks against Civil Society Organizations
On 20th March 2019, 20 Moldovan CSOs launched a report titled ‘the Radiography of Attacks against Civil Society Organizations’ which chronologically documents actions that were undertaken by different actors to restrict civil society space in Moldova throughout 2018. The report highlights legislative initiatives aimed at restricting operational space of civil society, declarations or statements made by politicians, representatives of public institutions, articles and media reports or public interventions that portray civil society as an actor promoting foreign interests or interests of the opposition political parties.
The main objective of the report was to draw attention to the attacks meted on civil society, to highlight the key actors involved in restricting civic space, and to also enable CSOs to develop strategies to promptly respond to attacks against them.
Visibility and communication kit for NGOs
In order to increase the visibility of NGOs and improve communication processes, especially during this period of increasing social media influence. In March 2019, the Center for Legal Resources in Moldova developed a guide addressed to Moldovan not-for-profit organizations, especially for local and regional CSOs, especially those without dedicated communications personnel, but which want to improve their visibility to the public.
The guide describes the tools that each NGO's "visibility and communication kit" should contain: a logo, a webpage, an annual report, a newsletter, etc. and provides practical advice on how organizations can enhance their visibility and streamline their external communication processes.
According to the authors, the guide gathers together more resources such as Google, Facebook, YouTube that have been specifically designed to help NGOs deliver their social messages to a wide audience.
On 7th April 2019, Moldova commemorated 10 years since the protests of 6th - 8th April 2009. In April 2009, thousands of young people went on the street in Chisinau to protest against a new victory of the Communists Party following parliamentary elections results which they considered to have been falsified. Hundreds of protesters were arbitrarily arrested, and were subject to beatings and ill-treatment in custody, while at least one person died.
Radio Free Europe Moldova reported on 7th April 2019 that during the commemoration march dubbed "Do not Forget, We Do not Forgive," the PAS (Action and Solidarity Party) opposition political party leader Maia Sandu said that the protest of young people of that time "was hijacked in violence and followed by unprecedented terror: Protesters killed in beatings in the middle of the night, people arrested during the day, in the streets, young people tortured in the commissariat."
In turn, the country president Igor Dodon, who was a member of the Communist government in 2009 (Ministry of Economy), reiterated the authorities' position at that time, insisting that there had been a coup d'etat attempt.
The political bloc ACUM protest for the independence of justice in Moldova
The sitting of the new Parliament in Chisinau was preceded on 21st March 2019, by a protest of the supporters of the political bloc ACUM (“Now”) who were demanding independence of the judiciary. The protest was held after two activists of the Platform of Dignity and Truth (PPDA), who have been active in exposing corruption in public institutions, were sentenced to years’ imprisonment. During the demonstration, PPDA leader Andrei Năstase called citizens to unite and asked them to overcome the fear imposed by the governing regime controlled by PDM leader Vlad Plahotniuc. "Trust the people you sent to Parliament - people of character who will not give up and will carry this fight against the usurper to the end," Năstase said.
Memorandum on freedom of the press (3rd May 2018 – 3rd May 2019) signed by more media CSOs
On 3rd May 2019, the Association of Independent Press (API) published a memorandum on the status of press freedom in Moldova. According to the memorandum, between 3rd May 2018 and 3rd May 2019, press freedom in Moldova continued to deteriorate, as political control over certain press institutions, the de-facto concentration of media ownership and the lack of pluralism have become even more visible. The memorandum also highlights the limited access to information of public interest, the lack of independence of journalists, increased cases of verbal aggression, intimidation and harassment of the press, all of which led to the country’s drop in international rankings. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) placed the Republic of Moldova on the 91st place out of the 180 countries in the ranking of press freedom for the year 2019. This is the lowest rating registered for Moldova since 2013. In the last six years, the Republic of Moldova has registered a drop by 36 positions in the RSF Press Freedom Index.