Parliament Without Journalists Is Not a National Assembly but a Party Headquarters

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АЕЖ-България

The Association of European Journalists – Bulgaria (AEJ-Bulgaria) calls on the management of the National Assembly to provide proper working conditions for media representatives.

On September 2, 2020, the first day of the new political season, journalists reporting on parliamentary activities were surprised to learn that their allocated working space is currently located on the ground floor of the former Communist Party Headquarters, which now houses Bulgaria’s National Assembly.

Journalists cannot freely enter the rest of the building. An electronic card is needed for access, but such passes are only available to the deputies and building staff.

This restriction prevents representatives of media from doing their jobs. With a lack of direct access to the members of parliament, they will only be able to file reports based on formal statements and press releases.

It is unacceptable in a parliamentary republic such as ours for the Parliament to hold its sessions behind closed doors and for the media to be kept in the dark and separated from lawmakers. Additionally, it violates Bulgarian citizens’ constitutional right to seek, receive and impart information.

Restrictions on journalists’ access to members of Parliament were also introduced, nominally as part of efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19, in the National Assembly’s former building.

AEJ-Bulgaria believes that whatever measures taken to guarantee the health of the people working in the Parliament building should neither violate Bulgarian citizens’ right of access to information nor limit government transparency. It is of the utmost importance for Parliament to provide proper working conditions for journalists, including air conditioning and heating, high-quality sound from the plenary hall, internet access, etc. All these elements should be in place so that media representatives may be able to perform their professional duties.

A building where journalists are relegated to the basement might serve well as a Party Headquarters, but not as the seat of the National Assembly in a democratic country.