Since the beginning of the year two cases of restriction of freedom of expression have generated a lot of debate in Romania. Cosmin Bîrsan, a young man from Odobesti, was fined because he posted on Facebook some critical remarks regarding the municipality’s activities. These posts were not an attack on the person, they were just ironic commentaries on the state of roads, questioning the controversial actions and affairs of Mayor's business. Another case with the same pattern took place at the beginning of the year. Following a Facebook posting in which a police car was filmed in a traffic slalom, seven people were summoned by the Târgu Jiu Police Force to be fined. One of them was the one who posted the video, the others were "guilty" of uploading comments. Although both video and comments were deleted, everyone in the end was fined.
The Romanian law that governs the access to information is the law 554/2001. This law provides that any person, Romanian or foreigner, may request any information of public interest, without justify their request, the law guaranteeing free access to information for everyone. How well structured is this law, how it is applied and how well known and accessible it is - I addressed these few questions to Ioana Avădani, executive director of the Center for Independent Journalism and to those directly involved in the accessibility of this law - journalists and those outside the guild.
Romania was among the latest countries in Europe that decriminalized homosexuality. It was not until 2001 that the article that punished homosexuality with prison was repealed. Still, the LGBT community suffers of public discrimination and has quite low visibility in mass media.
Liviu Dragnea, the leader of Socialist Democratic Party in Romania was in the past accused for trying to break freedom of speech by proposing a law to punish “public defamation”. The project didn’t pass. However, just before the recent elections, the same politician had a breakthrough with another law which was voted by the Parliament. The debate in Romania.