VIENNA, 12 December 2013 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today expressed her disappointment over recently adopted legislative amendments re-criminalizing defamation in Romania.
On 10 December the Romanian Parliament’s Chamber of Deputies adopted two laws amending the Criminal Code, resulting in a re-criminalization of defamation, among other changes. The amendments have been criticised by the civil society for their potential chilling effect on the media and for having been adopted without any public consultation.
“Criminalizing speech can stifle debate and be used to protect public officials from criticism. Fear of criminal charges might lead to self-censorship and can ultimately have a chilling effect on investigative journalism. I am therefore concerned by the recent legislative amendments as well as by the way in which the Romanian public and other vital stakeholders have been left out of the consultation process,” Mijatovic said.
“Romania made an important step when it de-criminalised defamation in 2006, making it one of the most progressive countries in this respect. I sincerely hope that these amendments will not be final, and call on relevant authorities in Romania to reject them as they represent a serious setback for media freedom in the country. Journalists in Romania must be able to continue informing the society on issues of public interest without fear of criminal prosecution,” Mijatovic said.