Human rights in Moldova

(Updated in Maj 2013)

Since the tumultuous elections in 2009, which eventually resulted in a new government of Moldova, the human rights situation in the country improved. In the 2010 parliamentary elections, the ruling political coalition, the Alliance for European Integration (AEI), increased its share of the votes. However, it failed to acquire the number of parliamentary seats necessary to have its presidential candidate elected. As a result, the political deadlock between the government and the opposition Communist Party persisted until March 2012, when the independent candidate, and former head of the Supreme Magistrate Council, Nicolae Timofti, was elected President. However, as a result of divergent interests between leaders and parties there have been continuous disagreements within AEI.

In the end of 2012, a hunting expedition with top officials ended with one businessman shot dead and a subsequent cover-up. The incident generated a series of charges and counter-charges of corruption, and in March the government collapsed following a vote of no confidence led by the communists opposition. In April Moldova’s Deputy Premier and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Iurie Leanca was designated acting prime minister by the President. If the designated prime minister fails to form a new government there will be snap elections. Early election could jeopardize the county´s progress towards EU integration as a return to power of the communist opposition could mean a deterioration of the human rights situation in general as well as the environment for NGOs. In May several law amendments that are in contradiction with Moldova’s constitution and European standards on constitutional justice were rapidly adopted by the parliament, without prior consultation with the civil society.

Despite political instability, Moldova has continued to strengthen its relationship with the European Union, and Moldova ranks first on the Eastern Partnership countries’ European integration index. The country is negotiating an Association Agreement, which includes the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, a process that might be completed in 2013. In June 2010 a visa dialogue was opened, with the final goal for Moldovan citizens to travel visa-free to the EU. Already from July 1, 2013 some visa requirements for Moldovans willing to travel to the European Union member states will be eased.

The coalition government, under Prime Minister Vlad Filat, demonstrated a willingness to implement reforms and has widely been seen as more eager to cooperate with civil society than the previous government. In the last few years, Moldova has ratified a number of international human rights conventions and drafted new laws conforming to European standards, resulting in a comparatively good legislation. In 2011, the government initiated reforms of the justice and law enforcement systems. In 2010, it adopted a Law on Freedom of Expression in accordance with European standards. In 2013, Moldova will continue the adjustment of the national legislation to the normative acts of the European Union and the Government has approved a National Plan on the Harmonization of the Legislation. In May 2012, anti-discrimination legislation was adopted – the Law on Ensuring Equality – which came into effect in January 2013. However, due to political opposition and pressure from the Church, sexual orientation was not explicitly mentioned in the list of grounds of discrimination covered by the law, except in relation to discrimination in the workplace. The Parliament is still in May 2013, one year after the adoption of the Law, in the procedure of selecting members on the Council for Preventing and Eliminating Discrimination and Ensuring Equality, the body that will enforce the Law.

Despite progress made, Moldova is still lagging behind in the 2012-13 Rule of Law Index, carried out by the World Justice Project, being on the 57th position on a list of 97 countries. However, there has been an improvement compared to last year´s index where Moldova was on 77th position. There are general concerns related to the implementation of recent legislative amendments and adherence to international human rights obligations in Moldova, as demonstrated by the many cases Moldova has pending before the European Court of Human Rights. By the beginning of 2013, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (ECtHR) had held Moldova responsible 252 times for serious human rights violations, and 3 594 cases were pending before the court.

Corruption continues to be a serious problem in Moldova, but on a positive note according to the Corruption Perception Index 2012 the country is slightly less corrupt than last year. In Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perceptions Index 2012, Moldova scored 2.6, an improvement from the 2011 score of 2,9 (0 highly corrupted and 10 low levels of corruption). The police was the public institution generally perceived as the most corrupt.

The 2011-12 Press Freedom Index, published by Reporters without Borders, places Moldova 53rd out of 179 countries, up from 75th place in 2010 and as low as 114th in 2009. Similarly, IREX’s Media Sustainability Index 2012 found improvements in the media climate in Moldova since 2009, but warned of the close relations between media and politics, and noted that many of the promised reforms had been pushed into the background by the on going political crisis.

An area of concern remains the conflict over Transnistria where the violations of human rights continue to be grave with basic rights of the people being violated on a daily basis. Torture, arbitrary arrests and unlawful detentions are regularly reported. In Freedom House’s Freedom in the World 2013 report, Transnistria was assessed separately, and considered “Not Free” (Moldova, excluding Transnistria, was considered “Partly Free”). After the change in leadership in December 2011 the hopes for improvements of the situation were high. In February 2013, UN released its first human rights report from the region, which was made possible as the author of the report was allowed to make monitoring missions meeting diverse stakeholders, such as key persons within the de facto authorities, law enforcement, the education system, prisoners, persons with disabilities, representatives from the civil society. Overall, the civil society is weak and access to information and freedom of expression continue to be limited. In the beginning of 2012 there were small positive signs indicating that the media climate was improving, however in the end of the year the opinion was that the new unrecognized government has set even tougher limits on the freedom of expression. There are also signals from human rights activists that the human rights situation in the region has not improved and, in some cases, it is even worst with more threats towards human rights defenders.

In October 2012 an important case, lodged by Promo-LEX Association, was decided in the European Court of Human Rights when the Grand Chamber ruled on the cases of Moldovan schools using Latin script in the Transnistrian region of Moldova. The ECtHR held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 2 of Protocol No. 1 (right to education) in respect of the Russian Federation and, that there had been no violation of Article 2 of Protocol No. 1 in respect of the Republic of Moldova. This decision was long expected since it creates a precedent for the Transnistrian region cases, and subsequently, the ECtHR has started to communicate more cases from Transnistria. In December 2011, the “5+2” negotiations on Transnistria recommenced after lying dormant for five years resulting in moderate success mostly on non-political issues such as restoring railway traffic.

Kategorier: Landanalyser.
Etiketter: Country Reports, Mänskliga rättigheter och Moldavien.
Regions: Östeuropa och Moldavien.