The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists EFJ) have expressed their deep concern about the recently adopted legislative amendments re-criminalising defamation in Romania, and appealed to Romanian authorities to do everything in their power to prevent it becoming law.
On 10 December, the Romanian Parliaments Chamber of Deputies adopted two laws amending the Penal Code which will lead to a re-criminalising of insult, libel and slander, among other changes.
The IFJ/EFJ have stated that the move undermines the progress Romania has made in recent years to legally protect the right to freedom of expression, saying that it was done without consultation and directly violates press freedom in the country.
"The reintroduction by Parliament of such crimes as insult, slander and libel in the Penal Code, without consultation with the public or relevant organisations, is a serious attack on the right to freedom of expression and is designed to intimidate those people who represent public interest and criticise the structure of power in Romanian society," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. "It is absolutely imperative that these proposed amendments are removed from the Penal Code and are not allowed to take effect."
IFJ/EFJ's Romanian affiliate, the FAIR-Media Sind Culture and Mass Media Federation, says it is protesting against the amendments and will petition the European Parliament in order to open an infringement procedure if they are adopted.
"These amendments are a blatant violation of international treaties, the European Convention on Human Rights, and rulings by the European Court on Human Right son the freedom of speech," said EFJ President Mogens Blicher-Bjerregård.
"But they may not take place if they are vetoed by the Romanian President Traian Băsescu. If the President vetoes them, the law will return to Parliament and will be subject to a new voting procedure. We appeal to the relevant authorities in Romania to do everything in their power to prevent these scandalous amendments from becoming law."
For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 17
The IFJ represents more than 600 000 journalists in 134 countries