A group of human rights NGOs are asking the Constitution revision Commission not to follow the suggestion of the Legislative Council and instead act for the preservation and strengthening of the freedom of expression in Romania, by providing it solid constitutional protection.
"We consider that the Romanian legislation provides sufficient compensatory measures for those who feel harmed by mass media activities; such measures can be applied gradually, depending on the seriousness of the offenses. Suspending or suppressing publications are brutal measures that equate to censorship — and censorship is expressly prohibited by Article 30 (2) of the Constitution," reads a release the Independent Journalism Center sent to AGERPRES.
Here are some of the NGOs that signed the release: the Centre for Independent Journalism; the Soros Foundation Romania; the Association for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights in Romania — Helsinki Committee; the Romanian Academic Society; Active Watch — the Media Monitoring Agency; the Association ?Solidarity for Freedom of Conscience'; the Romanian Secular — Humanist Association; the Romanian Group for the Defence of Human Rights (GRADO); the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux (ANBCC); the Local Media Association.
According to the said NGOs, "removing this article would result in the loss of a constitutional safeguards already in place, which is contrary to the principles of law and to the current Constitution, which provides in Article 152 (2) that no revision can be conducted if it results in the suppression of fundamental freedoms and rights of citizens or their warranties."
According to the signatories, "the constitutional interdiction to suppress publications is one of the strongest guarantees of the freedom of the press, a freedom enshrined in Article 30," and "there is no reason justifying the adoption in 2014 of an approach specific to totalitarian regimes."
"This express ban first appeared in the 1866 Constitution. It was removed in 1938 during the royal dictatorship, and the text has been missing from all the Constitutions of the communist period. The interdiction to suppress publications was reintroduced in the 1991 Constitution," adds the cited release which mentions that "the draft Constitution under preparation contains an amendment introduced based on the opinion of the Legislative Council, which provides the removal of this interdiction."AGERPRES