US-based watchdog organization Freedom House issued a statement about significant challenges facing independent journalists in their coverage of candidates in Moldova’s first direct presidential election in 16 years.

The statement said that Freedom House and other independent media outlets encountered serious barriers to reporting on presidential elections. These barriers include campaign finance laws that obstruct journalists’ access to key information; and the proliferation of false information, hate speech, and internet trolls, as well as their influence on the free flow of information to citizens.

Robert Herman, vice president for international programs said:

“The lack of transparency about campaign contributions and the Central Electoral Commission’s failure to respond to reporting on candidates’ corruption or illegal actions undermine Moldova’s promised reforms. Journalists’ lack of access to key information raises serious concerns about the government’s commitment to freedom of expression as a core democratic value. The Electoral Commission should improve public access to information on presidential candidates before the second round of voting on November 13.”