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The new Rules of Publishing Court Decisions are limiting access to information, warn investigative journalists. At the same time, authorities argue that the restrictions are meant to keep personal data safe.
Discussing the issue at a press club meeting on Thursday, the journalists lamented in particular the provisions that classify the names, addresses and other personal data of the parties in a legal case.
The investigative journalist Mariana Rata said the new rules meant that the information to be published following a court ruling would be scant and obscure, leaving the public uninformed. Finding a decision will also be difficult, obstructing the efforts of investigative journalists. “One won’t be able to make out much of such a court decision. Per the current rules, one can say that searching for a decision is no longer possible”.
Further, Mariana Rata warned that once a case is closed, the agenda of court sittings will no longer provide information on past proceedings. “We wonder if we’ll ever get proper access to court decisions, if we’ll ever be able to find a decision concerning a minister, a state institution, a company”.
Ilie Chirtoaca, of the Legal Resource Center NGO, said civil society had received two versions of the draft Rules. Suggestions were offered, but eventually a different version was adopted, containing unconsulted provisions. “We weren’t invited to any meetings of the drafting group. The Rules are actually not that bad. But they need to be adjusted. What concerns names, these must be public”.
However, Sergiu Bozianu, of the National Center on Personal Data Protection, maintains that publishing court decisions for anyone to view violates no fewer than 24 laws. Classifying such information, he added, would be in line with the EU standards and the Association Agreement in particular. If personal data is violated, “who is going to answer if not the sate, who is going to pay if not the sate”, asked Bozianu rhetorically?
Sergiu Bozianu went on to add that the Rules do offer means of searching for a particular court decision, and namely by keywords. Moreover, “a mechanism will also be introduced to allow online access to a database of non-personalized court decisions, which will make it possible to search by names, as previously. A software is being developed to enable this. But access to this database will be granted only to people under Art.10 of the Law on Personal Data Protection”, said Sergiu Bozianu.
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