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Romania: Investigative Journalism Law Rejected by the Senate

Eugen Cojocariu

On 25 February 2015, the Romanian Senate (upper Chamber of the Parliament) rejected with an overwhelming majority the Propunerea legislativă privind înfiinţarea Fondului Special pentru Jurnalismul de Investigaţie (Draft Law on setting up the Special Fund for the Investigative Journalism). The final decision belongs to the second Chamber, the Chamber of Deputies.

The Draft Law intended, according to the legislators, to fight against corruption which affects public money through supporting investigative journalists, natural and moral persons towards the disclosure of illegal practices. The document proposed to support these steps through a so-called Special Fund for the Investigative Journalism, which would finance directly investigative journalism, but also the persons which dare to disclose corruption actions (whistleblowers) through mass-media (print, online, radio, television) or through a complaint directed to investigating and prosecuting bodies. The above mentioned journalists and persons were supposed to receive 2 per cent of the value of the damage within 30 days of its restitution to the state budget after final and conclusive judgments of courts for corruption cases.

The sums would be paid to any natural person above 18 years old or to any Romanian or foreign moral person which made public, through any medium (print publication, online, radio, TV) or complaining directly to the investigating and prosecuting bodies, any corruption case, abuse of office, embezzlement, receiving undue benefits, tax evasion or any action or inaction under criminal law in force which by their nature is prejudicial to the state budget with at least 100,000 lei (~EUR 22,470). The 2 per cent of the recovered damage will be received upon request to the Finance Ministry.

Prior to the rejection of the Draft Law by the Senate, the Legislative Council issued a positive opinion with comments and suggestions, the Romanian Government issued a negative opinion and the Senate’s Standing Committee for Budget, finance, banking and capital markets and the Committee on Culture and media, respectively, issued a common negative report, with the recommendation for the Draft Law to be rejected.

The Government considered the proposed document is contrary to Law no. 500/2002 on public finance, with further modifications and completions, with regard to the setting up of special funds, the principles of universality and unity, and the rules on budgetary expenditure. Additionally, it considers that the Draft Law breaches the Fiscal responsibility Law no. 69/2010, because it does not include the opinion of the Ministry of Finance and of the Fiscal Council, according to which the financial impact has been taken into account in the forecast budget revenues and it does not affect the annual and the medium term budgetary targets.

Eugen Cojocariu, Radio Romania International


The Propunere legislativă privind înfiinţarea Fondului Special pentru Jurnalismul de Investigaţie - forma iniţiatorului (Draft Law on setting up the Special Fund for  the Investigative Journalism – as initiator) is available in Romanian language here.

 

The Propunere legislativă privind înfiinţarea Fondului Special pentru Jurnalismul de Investigaţie - expunerea de motive (Draft Law on setting up the Special Fund for  the Investigative Journalism – Explanatory Memorandum) is available in Romanian language here.



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