Center for Investigative Journalism lost the case against the Presidency by which we asked information about the persons decorated with state awards by the presidents of the country from 2001 to present, and acts by which the heads of state rejected the candidacies of judges proposed for promotion or appointment. Magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice rejected the appeal which CIJM filed after the Court of Appeal Chisinau ordered the Presidency to provide journalists with information just about people decorated with state awards. On 29 June, the Supreme Court of Justice ordered quashing of the decision of the court and upheld the decision of the Buiucani Court, that in November 2015 rejected the action of the Center.
The two requests for information were sent to the Presidency in May 2015. In the first, CIJM asked biographies of people who have been decorated in the period 2001-2015 with state awards: the Order of the Republic, Order of Honor, the Order Labor Glory, Order Civic Merit and the Order Stefan cel Mare, and other details about their specific merits. The Presidency has refused to provide this information by referring to the protection of personal data.
In the second request, the journalists of the Centre asked all documents sent by the heads of state in the period 2001-2015 to the Superior Council of Magistracy by which candidates for the seat of judge, chairman or deputy chairman of courts were rejected and judges who were promoted at the courts of appeal. Also, in this case representatives of the Presidency cited personal data. Reporters of the Center for Investigative Journalism obtained and analyzed documents on the promotion of magistrates. We got convinced that the documents covered information of public interest and was used to carry out the "Judges with 'nine lives'."
"The court of appeal said that the information requested by the Center for Investigative Journalism is restricted, with limited access, which is protected by the State Secrecy Law. Therefore, this shows that the requested information by letter no. 20 -05 of 14 May 2015 (the one about judges) is information containing personal data, to which access is limited, and is inadmissible to publish reasons for the rejection of applications for judge. Also, the principle of rights and reputation observation of the candidates for judge are infringed. The court of appeal mentions to this effect the judgment of the Supreme Court of Justice on the examination of cases involving access to official information stating that the requester will provide sufficient and conclusive details for identification of required information", reads the Decision of the Supreme Court of Justice.
Also, magistrates deemed unfounded the decision of the Court of Appeal by which the court ordered the President’s Apparatus to provide CIJM with information on the biographies of people who have been decorated with the Order of the Republic, Order of Honor, the Order of Labor Glory, Order Civil Merit and the Order Stefan cel Mare in the period 2001- 2015. "While examining the case, the court of appeal did not take into account the provisions of art. 4 of the Law on personal data protection that states that personal data undergoing processing must be: collected for exact, explicit and legitimate purposes and must be adequate, accurate and not excessive. Thus, the request for providing information for 14 years of activity does not meet the invoked norms due to the excessive and unidentifiable character of the requested information", writes the same decision.
"It is the first trial on access to information in the last ten years lost by CIJM. The information requested was of public interest because it was about data about judges, whose candidatures were rejected by the Presidency. In conditions when there are many suspicions of corruption related to magistrates, it is obvious to have increased public interest. Authorities must make public this information so as the citizens should know the judges who are promoted or, on contrary are rejected. A journalistic investigation showed that the judges rejected by the president for having problems of integrity were promoted into the system by Supreme Court of Magistrature. So, the Presidency must provide this information. I understand that judges protect themselves, that is how I justify this decision", said Cornelia Cozonac, president of the Center for Investigative Journalism.
As for people who are decorated with state awards, Cornelia Cozonac said that every citizen would be interested to find out information about their merits. "This Decision is inadequate, it is actually a defiance of citizens' right to public information and defiance of the rules of international law, press freedom and is contrary to the principles of democracy. I believe, the next step will be ECHR, to reclaim the right of access to public information", said Cornelia Cozonac.