The Center for Investigative Journalism (CIJM) won the lawsuit in the main court against the Central Electoral Commission (CEC), which in the electoral campaign restricted journalists' access to information of public interest. The court found that the CIJM had been violated the right of access to the requested information: the subscription lists submitted by the initiative groups for the registration of the candidates and the financial reports of the electoral contestants. Magistrates have forced the institution to provide the data which CIJM journalists have requested access to.
"The court found that the restriction of access to information of public interest - the subscription lists and the financial statements of the electoral candidates - was unjustified", said Vitalie Zama, lawyer at the “Human Rights Lawyers” organization. He represented the CIJM in this trial.
Nearly one month after the first round of presidential elections, the CEC invited CIJM reporters to study the requested documents. Incidentally or not, CEC representatives came up with this reaction after CIJM announced that it had sued the institution for restricting access to public information.
In early October, CIJM submitted to the CEC a request to access the subscription lists submitted by the initiative groups for the registration of candidates for the seat of president of the Republic of Moldova. "The interest in them is determined by the polemics in society regarding the fairness of the electoral campaign. We consider that a possible refusal could not be motivated by the personal data protection. We assume responsibility not to disclose the personal data contained in the requested documents", reads the first request. Additionally, the journalists of the Center for Investigative Journalism have sent another request confirming that they are taking responsibility for not disclosing personal data and not photographing the documents.
In response, CEC representatives have invoked the personal data protection, addressing the National Center for Personal Data Protection.
Another request sent to the CEC concerned access to the financial reports of all candidates for the post of head of state, indicating donor jobs. The representatives of the Commission’s press service said that these data could not be presented in any way, because the rules on personal data protection have been tightened to prevent donors’ intimidation in the election campaign.
Previously, the data on the workplace, the residence and the birth year of the electoral donors were public, while this time these were shaded. Despite these impediments, the Center for Investigative Journalism revealed several curious cases in the lists of electoral donors. Some state officials have made higher donations than their incomes; other donors are among the beneficiaries of public tenders. The sponsors of this election campaign include priests, prosperous businessmen and people with a criminal record.