Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Romanian media slam plans to curb freedoms

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

BUCHAREST, Romania: Media freedom groups criticized Romanian government plans that would allow people to sue for libel on behalf of the dead.

The groups said draft legislation would limit press freedoms amid a continuing struggle between journalists and authorities since Romania threw off communism 20 years ago. Some journalists have had hundreds of libel cases lodged against them.

Measures proposed include obliging news organizations to print or broadcast an unedited "right to reply" within three days to anyone offended by an article. If they did not they would risk legal action.

The law also allows for assets owned by the press to be confiscated, destroyed or withdrawn from circulation to pay damages.

Three Romanian groups and the European Federation of Journalists on Tuesday all criticized the draft law as an attack on the press.

"Some of the proposals put forward by the government are simply absurd," said the federation's president Arne Koenig.

The legislation proposed by the Justice Ministry last week needs to be approved by lawmakers.

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