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May 13, 2019

Romania urged to protect all journalists with same speed as in Sercan case

Emilia Sercan / © Cristian Gradinariu
In a joint letter released today, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and its Romanian partner, Active Watch, praise the speed with which the Romanian authorities dealt with the threatening text received by investigative journalist Emilia Sercan on 15 April, but urge them to act with similar speed in all other serious threats or abuses against journalists, in order to combat impunity and a climate of violence against the media.

Ms. Carmen Dan, Minister of Internal Affairs

Mr. Ioan Buda, Chief Inspector of the Romanian Police General Inspectorate

Mr. Călin Nistor, Chief Prosecutor of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate

 

Dear Ms. Dan, Dear Mr. Buda, and Dear Mr. Călin Nistor,

 

Reporters without Borders (RSF) and Active Watch praise the speed with which the Bucharest police and the Bucharest prosecutor’s office reacted to the death threats against the journalist Emilia Sercan, especially as the main suspect is a police officer.

 

We are following the investigation closely and we urge the prosecutors at the National Anti-Corruption Directorate, now in charge of the case, to prioritize bringing it to trial. We also urge them to be transparent about the proceedings and to tell the public if the main suspect had any accomplices.

 

As this case involves a police officer working at the Police Academy, it is all the more important to send a clear message to the public at large and to the police that the Romanian authorities will not tolerate such behaviour. We also urge the minister of internal affairs to investigate the institutional climate within the Police Academy that made this threat possible.  

 

Since the Sercan case became public, journalists working for local media have accused local police forces and prosecutors of not reacting to threats against the media. Experience shows that such a failure to investigate and prosecute all threats against journalists quickly and thoroughly leads to a climate that makes violence – and even deadly violence – against journalists possible.

 

We therefore take this opportunity to invite the minister of internal affairs to discuss how to best replicate the fast reaction in the Sercan case in all other threats or abuses against journalists. We also encourage the authorities to ensure that current and future police officers are trained to be aware of the crucial role of journalists, the mass media and press freedom as a pillar of democracy.