OSCE Mission Head concerned over repeated restrictions on media freedom in Moldova

( OSCE ) - The Head of the OSCE Mission to Moldova, Ambassador Louis O'Neill, expressed his deep concern today over renewed restrictions of freedom of the media and freedom of assembly in Moldova.

"Freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of the media are fundamental to a functioning democracy. Any limitations on these rights in a democratic society should be clearly prescribed by law," said Ambassador O'Neill.

His statement came in response to yesterday's detention of 15 members of the Liberal Party during a protest walk in Chisinau. Two TV crews, which were filming the arrest, were also detained by Moldovan police.

Chisinau TV station DTV also reported that police officers forced their cameraman to surrender a video tape showing the arrests.

Ambassador O'Neill said that the actions by the Moldovan Police against members of the Liberal Party and journalists from PRO TV and DTV seemed to be neither proportional nor necessary in a democratic society.

"I urge the Moldovan authorities to exercise restraint in the future. It is vital to ensure that journalists can report freely and that citizens enjoy their right to free expression. This is especially important in the light of the campaign in the run-up to the 3 June local elections," he added.

The Head of Mission also expressed concern over today's temporary arrest of the print-run of the weekly newspaper SP in Moldova's second biggest city Balti.

"Stopping the distribution of a newspaper, or parts of it, is a serious sanction unfit of a democratic society," he said.

The OSCE Mission will approach the Interior Ministry for further clarifications with regard to both issues.

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