"The Republic of Moldova needs to continue its efforts to strengthen the independence, integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, while placing human rights at the forefront of ongoing reforms", said today Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, at the end of his four-day visit in the country.
"The National Human Rights Action Plan is a positive step, but there is a need to ensure better communication about it, both internally and externally. It is also important to clearly define priorities - such as anti-discrimination and justice sector reform - and to involve civil society in the process of monitoring implementation".
The Commissioner calls for more efforts to ensure that the selection, appointment and promotion of judges are based on merit. "A credible and competent disciplinary mechanism is of key importance for promoting the integrity and impartiality of judges and increasing public trust in the judiciary".
Commissioner Muižnieks also recommends that the Parliament appoint judges to the Constitutional Court as soon as possible, in order to ensure that this institution is fully functional. He further stresses that "the ambitious reform strategy for the justice sector should receive adequate funding, including for increasing judges' salaries, to ensure the long-term sustainability of the required changes. Reform of the Prosecutor General's Office should also be stepped up, with a special emphasis on strengthening the procedural independence of prosecutors".
As regards police, the Commissioner recommends continuing its much-needed reform, as well as enhancing measures to prevent inhuman and degrading treatment and to ensure accountability, including for crimes committed by law enforcement officials in the context of the April 2009 events.
Concerning national human rights mechanisms, the Commissioner finds it necessary to strengthen the independence and efficiency of the Ombudsman institution, and enable it to fully assume its important role in promoting as well as protecting human rights standards. Furthermore, the Parliament should proceed without delay with the selection and appointment of the members of the Equality Commission, which should be transparent and based on clear criteria.
As part of this visit, the Commissioner also travelled to Tiraspol where he discussed the human rights situation in the region with the local leaders, representatives of civil society and relevant institutions, in particular concerning shortcomings in the penitentiary system, including measures to prevent overcrowding and to address the problem of tuberculosis and HIV.