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Moldova: time has come to strengthen protection of the rights of people with disabilities, Roma and other vulnerable groups

Chisinau, 21/10/11 – "A prompt adoption of a comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation will be an important step towards a more effective protection of the rights of the vulnerable groups in Moldova", said the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights at the end of a three-day visit to Moldova. "It should be accompanied by an education and public awareness campaign to ensure efficient implementation of the legislation in question".

During the visit, the Commissioner focused on non-discrimination and promotion of tolerance in society, as well as human rights issues related to the events of April 2009. He welcomed a strong commitment by the relevant governmental institutions to promulgate the anti-discrimination law, despite strong opposition by certain groups.

The Commissioner expressed concern about homophobic and Islamophobic rhetoric used by some politicians and other leaders in the course of discussions around this important law. "Such stigmatising rhetoric should not lead to delays in the approval of this law by the parliament", the Commissioner noted.

Furthermore, the Commissioner addressed the situation of the Roma community in the country. "Further measures should be taken to promote the social integration of the Roma, including access to employment", he stated after visiting one of the Roma settlements. "Special attention should be paid to guaranteeing their access to water and medical facilities, as well as integration of Roma children at schools".

The Commissioner also took stock of the measures taken in connection with the events of April 2009 and recommendations contained in his previous report on Moldova, particularly those related to combating ill-treatment and impunity by the police. He noted the steps undertaken by the government in this direction, such as the establishment of the special anti-torture units within the Prosecutor General's Office.

At the same time, he underlined that more resolute action is needed in order to investigate and bring to justice all those responsible for the serious violations of human rights perpetrated in the period of the April 2009 protests. He shared the opinion expressed by several of his interlocutors, including those in the government, that the process of ensuring accountability has been too slow and the results reached so far cannot be considered as satisfactory.

Finally, the Commissioner took note of the government's intention to initiate a comprehensive reform of the justice system, which is widely regarded as an important step towards strengthening the rule of law and respect for human rights in the country.