As part of its mandate, the OSCE Mission to Moldova advises the authorities in Moldova on human rights and democratization issues, in particular on combating torture and ill-treatment, electoral reform, the promotion of rule of law, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly and minority and language rights. The Mission closely monitors Moldova's legal reforms in the field of human rights and rule of law, provides expertise on draft legislation and follows closely its implementation.
Since 2004, the Mission has been mediating in a dispute involving eight Moldovan schools in the Transdniestrian region which are administered by the Moldovan Government and continue to use a Moldovan curriculum. The Mission monitors the functioning of the Moldovan-administered schools in the Transdniestrian region and mediates between central and Transdniestrian region education authorities to find solutions for outstanding issues and to prevent the emergence of new crises.
In 2008 the Moldovan government, in close co-operation with the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the Mission, drafted and adopted legal norms that brought Moldova’s domestic legislation on freedom of assembly into compliance with international standards. In addition to the legislative changes, the Mission has supported freedom of assembly monitoring implemented by civil society and large scale police capacity building projects.
The Mission monitors the efforts of the Government and civil society to prevent and address torture and degrading treatment. The Mission provides expertise and support on improving legislation and institutional practices, and conducts monitoring visits at places of detention on both banks of the Dniestr/Nistru. The Mission’s focus has been on strengthening the role and capacity of civil society to monitor places of detention. The Mission supported the Government’s efforts to establish and develop the National Prevention Mechanism under the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture.
The Mission manages projects aimed at strengthening the capacities of forensic and medical experts in places of detention on both banks of the Dniestr/Nistru, organizes workshops that prepare juvenile detainees in Transdniestria for social reintegration after their release and supports free legal assistance on human rights-related issues in the region. The Mission also follows high-level court cases related to the 2009 April post-electoral events.
The Mission receives and responds to a large number of individual and group petitions and complaints from citizens on both sides of the Dniestr/Nistru River. In some cases the petitioners are advised as to which Moldovan institutions they should appeal for redress, while in other cases the Mission approaches the appropriate officials for clarification, or requests reviews.
The Mission supports the efforts of national authorities to reform the judiciary in line with international standards. It has closely followed national efforts to strengthen the independence of judiciary, including on the degree of implementation of the recommendations of the final report of an OSCE trial monitoring programme, which was implemented in 2006-2009. The purpose of the trial monitoring programme was to monitor and disseminate information on compliance with fair trial standards, to build up the capacity of civil society to monitor and accurately report on trials and to raise awareness among relevant national and international stakeholders of the right to a fair trial and violations thereof. Special attention was paid to the rights of victims and witnesses in trial proceedings.
In co-operation with OSCE/ODIHR, the Mission held a roundtable to discuss the “Kiev Recommendations on Judicial Independence,” which set out specific recommendations for Moldova, to be implemented in 2011-2012, aimed at strengthening the independence of the Superior Council of Magistrates, setting out clear criteria for the appointment of judges and rules for taking disciplinary actions against judges.
As part of its contribution to the criminal justice reform process, the Mission has supported the analysis of rulings against Moldova by the European Court of Human Rights and has held a series of seminars for police officers. The Mission follows and reports on all such cases. In 2010 the Mission held a conference on challenges and new approaches to the prosecution system in Moldova and is currently implementing a comprehensive project to assess reform in the prosecution service, using experience from the Baltic States.
The Mission has initiated regular rule of law roundtable meetings for the exchange of information and improving the co-ordination of joint efforts by international organizations to assist Moldovan institutions and officials in drafting legislation, enhancing their capacity to implement laws and legal procedures in the judicial system to meet international standards.
The Mission, in co-operation with OSCE/ODIHR, provides national authorities with analysis and recommendations on amending legislation. In 2010 the Ministry of Justice was advised on defining hate crimes and amending relevant articles of the Criminal Code. The Prosecutor General’s Office has been provided with an Assessment Report on the Superior Council of Prosecutors, which is the newly established body responsible for the career and ethics of prosecutors. Finally, a draft Code of Ethics for prosecutors was commented upon by an OSCE/ODIHR expert.
Following a formal request by the Ministry of Justice, the Mission, in co-operation with ODIHR, undertook a full-scale assessment of the legislative process in Moldova and in October 2010 held a roundtable meeting to discuss the findings of the assessment report, including the steps necessary to implement the recommendations.
In close co-operation with OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the Mission provides advice and expertise for the improvement of national and Gagauz regional electoral legislation. This is done through providing legislative reviews, analysing the implementation of previous ODIHR/Venice Commission recommendations, analysing voting procedures for Moldovans living abroad, organizing public discussions on both potential and adopted amendments to the Electoral Code, and supporting voter education activities during elections.