Renewed call for action after smear campaign against Emilia Șercan
Renewed call for action after new smear campaign against Emilia Șercan
On 17th February 2023, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) renewed its call for action after Emilia Șercan, a Romanian journalist, faced a new smear campaign roughly one year after Șercan filed an initial police complaint. Șercan has been subjected to online harassment, phone threats and a physical attack outside her home. Șercan has been targeted since 18th January 2020, when the journalist reported that Prime Minister Nicolae Ciucă had plagiarized his doctoral thesis. Șercan is a journalist and a member of the Romanian Centre for Investigative Journalism, who has reported extensively on corruption, fraud and abuse of power. The ECPMF has stated that such smear campaigns are an attempt to discredit independent media and intimidate journalists. The Romanian authorities have been heavily urged to investigate the matter and ensure the safety of journalists.
Political censorship, intimidation and legal suppression
On 11th April 2023, BIRN’s latest three-month monitoring review of digital violations was published, covering the period from January to March 2023. According to the review, during the three months several cases of political censorship, intimidation and legal suppression of dissent have been reported across the region, including in Serbia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina. The challenges faced by law enforcement agencies in tackling online intimidation and the need for stronger legislation and international cooperation to combat this problem have been emphasised. Within these cases, Romania has reported the spread of misinformation on social media platforms and an increase in cyber threats. This includes a warning from the Romania Defence Ministry to the public about misinformation on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram regarding mandatory military mobilisation on March 9th, 2023. Overall there have been calls for increased awareness and education among the public to promote the responsible use of social media and prevent online harassment.
@emiliasercan, freelance investigative journalist and senior lecturer has been targeted by a renewed campaign of discreditation after her revelations that the Minister of Interior had plagiarised his Ph.D. thesis. @MediaFreedomEU @ECPMF— OBC Transeuropa (@BalkansCaucasus) March 11, 2023
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Farmers Protest Against EU's Decision on Ukrainian Grain Scandal, block borders in protest over Ukrainian grain imports
On 5th April 2023, Romanian farmers protested the EU's decision to grant Ukraine exemptions to export wheat stored in warehouses without paying duties. The farmers argued that this decision would have a negative impact on their livelihoods. About 100 farmers converged on Romania’s capital, Bucharest, while hundreds more protested across the country in long convoys of tractors, including outside the European Commission’s representative office in Bucharest. The farmers demanded that the EU reconsider its decision and that the Romanian government support them in this regard. They also called for greater transparency in the food industry and stricter controls on imported food. The protest was peaceful, and no incidents were reported.
On 7th April 2023, Romanian farmers further blocked the border with Hungary, Bulgaria and Ukraine in a protest against cheap grain imports from Ukraine. The protest was fueled by the same EU decision mentioned previously in this report, which decreases tariffs on Ukrainian grain imports to support Ukraine's economy. The farmers argue that the measure will hurt their business and lead to job losses. The government has promised to address their concerns and invited farmers to talks on the issue. The protest ended after four days, following an agreement between the authorities and farmers' representatives to find an eventual solution to the issue.
On 19th April 2023, Romania's agriculture ministry announced that it would seal, monitor and quality-check Ukrainian grain shipments as they transit through the country. Other countries of the region, such as Poland, Hungary and Slovakia imposed a ban on Ukranian grain.