Judicial reform needs to be accelerated in the Republic of Moldova

[Strasbourg, 30/09/2013 9:30] - "The on-going reform of the judiciary in the Republic of Moldova should lead towards an independent, impartial and effective justice system able to improve human rights protection," said today Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, releasing a report on his visit to the Republic of Moldova carried out from 4 to 7 March 2013.

The Justice Sector Reform Strategy for 2011-2016 is a major undertaking in this direction. However, the Commissioner underlines that the reform process needs to be supported by adequate funding and concrete political measures. "The budget of Moldovan courts is twenty times less than the median of Council of Europe member States and judges are not properly shielded from undue political pressure. The five-year initial probationary period should be revoked and provisions allowing for the dismissal or disciplinary proceedings against them because of the decisions they take should be repealed."

The Commissioner recommends that the authorities take resolute action to reform and depoliticise the Prosecutor's Office, establishing objective, merit-based procedures for the selection of candidates for the position of Prosecutor General.

Impunity for ill-treatment and torture by law enforcement officials remains a serious problem in the Republic of Moldova. "Investigations of such cases are often ineffective and punishment tends to be lenient. It is also regrettable that all conviction sentences against police officers who inflicted torture and ill-treatment on some demonstrators during the events of April 2009 have been suspended by courts. The authorities should combat any institutional culture which fosters a climate of impunity, including by thoroughly investigating any allegations of torture or ill-treatment by law enforcement officials, ensuring the implementation of dissuasive sentences and adopting a policy of zero-tolerance towards serious human rights violations. Anti-corruption policies and appropriate training and control mechanisms would also be beneficial."

While welcoming the implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan for 2011-2014, the Commissioner expresses concerns about the lack of resources which may hinder the achievement of its objectives. "To secure sufficient funding, the budgetary process should include human rights planning and review so as to inform politicians of the consequences of their decisions on the effective enjoyment of basic rights. It is also important to define priority areas, focusing on human rights of the most vulnerable groups, to establish better coordination with sector-specific plans and with the on-going justice sector reform, to actively involve civil society and develop an effective communication strategy about the Action Plan to raise human rights awareness both among the public and among State officials."

Lastly, welcoming the appointment of the members of the Equality Council, the Commissioner calls on the authorities to establish a truly independent and effective Ombudsman institution, strengthen anti-discrimination legislation and ensure its effectiveness in practice, ratify the anti-discrimination Protocol to the European Convention and accept the collective complaints procedure under the European Social Charter to better protect economic and social rights.

Read the report