Sustained efforts needed to ensure effective protection of human rights of the persons living in the Transnistrian region

Chisinau, 18/01/12 – The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg has carried out his first ever visit to the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova. The purpose was to discuss with the de facto authorities, including the new leader Yevgeny Shevchuk, and representatives of the human rights structures pressing issues affecting the protection of the rights of the people living in the region. On the eve of this visit, the Commissioner also had meetings with the civil society organisations operating there.

The Commissioner was informed by the interlocutors in Tiraspol about several important measures they intend to implement with regard to the functioning of the local courts' system, the police and the penitentiary institutions. These measures will include, inter alia, granting in the course of 2012 of an amnesty to prisoners serving sentences for less severe crimes; introducing lighter punishment for crimes which pose no threat to life or health of the victims; a wider use of alternatives to imprisonment; a more resolute fight against corruption.

The de facto officials underlined the need to improve the conditions in prisons and requested international assistance to prevent the epidemics of tuberculosis and HIV from spreading among the prison population. They also pledged their commitment to reviewing and changing the rules and regulations governing the media landscape, with an ultimate goal of establishing a public broadcasting service in the region.

The Commissioner highlighted also the importance of developing a genuine dialogue with the non-governmental organisations, stressing the positive role they play in protecting and promoting the rights of the most vulnerable groups in the society. He encouraged his interlocutors to improve the framework regulating the work of the local public associations.

Issues discussed also included the functioning of the Latin-script schools in the region. The Commissioner urged the de facto authorities to remove all the impediments preventing the normal functioning of these educational institutions.

Finally, the Commissioner recalled that the relevant standards and recommendations made by international human rights protection mechanisms may provide a useful guidance when designing and implementing the reform strategies. The resumption of co-operation with the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) – in particular, by allowing it to carry out its visits in full compliance with its mandate – will constitute an important step in this direction.