From the results of the local elections in Moldova, which seemed a trigger of a crisis in the coalition government, the dispute between ACUM and PSRM moved to the subject of the justice reform in Moldova.
After the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM) expressed it’s concern regarding the “inefficiency of the Government and the increasingly negative perception citizens have about its activity”, as well as the intention to have discussions with ACUM about possible replacement of “inefficient” ministers, it seems that one more matter needs to be raised to eventual discussion between the coalition partners – the way the Prosecutor General is appointed.
The cause of dispute
Everything began (or maybe it is better to say that it continued) when Minister of Justice Olesea Stamati announced at a press conference that she would issue an order for cancelling the result of the contest for the position of Prosecutor General.
“As Minister of Justice, I cannot submit the list of selected candidates for the position of Prosecutor General.”
According to Olesea Stamati, the reason why the contest wasn’t held according to legal requirements is the lack of sufficient information on candidates provided to the commission in charge with the evaluation of candidates, as well as the fact that Petru Bobu, one member of the commission, evaluated certain candidates in a clearly disproportionate manner. “This fact distorted the final result, influencing the contest,” highlighted Minister of Justice.
Petru Bobu rejected the accusations: “The suspicions are not well founded, I appraised candidates the way I found appropriate,” said Bobu for TV8.
The act of taking control
As a result of failed contest for selecting a new Prosecutor General, the Government decided to assume the responsibility for amending the Law on Prosecutor’s Office, so that the prime minister would be responsible for pre-selecting the candidates.
As per changes made in the law in September 2019, the Ministry of Justice created a special commission for the pre-selection of a list of candidates, which subsequently had to be presented to the Superior Council of Prosecutors (SCP). This task could not be fulfilled because the members of the commission did not have access to sufficient data that would confirm the integrity and professionalism of the candidates.
The newly proposed amendments include selection by the prime minister, according to the approved procedure, of at least two candidates for the position of Prosecutor General and submission of the list to the SCP. Next, the SCP would select one candidate from the list and would propose him/her to the president.
“Unfortunately, the process of evaluating the candidates for the position of Prosecutor General was flawed.We went for an independent commission and pluralism of opinions. But ultimately, the responsibility for this process lies with us. We must assume the radical change we all need,” declared Prime Minister Maia Sandu at a press conference.
The socialists’ anger
The PSRM representatives declared against the ACUM initiative regarding the amendment of the Law on Prosecutor’s Office. “This means that the future leader of the General Prosecutor’s Office would be appointed by the head of a political party, depending on his personal or political options. Such an initiative of the General Prosecutor’s Office political subordination is unacceptable in a country where intense efforts are being made to reform the justice system,” is written in the official statement of PSRM.
According to the statement, the initiative of Maia Sandu “flagrantly violates the agreement signed by ACUM and PSRM, where it was clearly mentioned that during the justice reform the selection of the Prosecutor General will be carried out by contest, not by a politician.”
“This is certainly not the independence of justice promised by the current parliamentary majority. We can’t go back to the disastrous habits of the past, when a political leader decided who is running the General Prosecutor’s Office.”
The PSRM representatives also demanded the resignation of Minister of Justice Olesea Stamati, accusing her of incompetence.
The expert’s opinion
Political analyst Victor Ciobanu considers that the movement made by ACUM when cancelling the results of the pre-selection contest and taking responsibility for amendments of the Law on the Prosecutor’s Office is a “powerful move” in response to the last statements of disapproval of President Igor Dodon and PSRM regarding the activity of the Government.
“Cancelling the results of the contest is a good thing. Because to admit a mistake is much better than to insist on this mistake. Following the pressures made by the pubic, the contest score was published and it was clear that at least one representative delegated by PSRM tried to alter the results, which is inadmissible. Consequently, I think that was a good decision,” stated Victor Ciobanu.
The expert expressed his confidence that the coalition is not about to crumble until the eventual fall of the Government and snap elections, as none of the parts is interested in that. However, a compromise needs to be reached.
“ACUM should hand over certain ministries to Socialists for giving them the opportunity to be jointly responsible for the government. Otherwise, PSRM is in a very comfortable position to be in power and have no responsibility for the government activity, therefore being free to criticise it,” stated the expert.
A leopard never changes its spots or the ambitions of President Igor Dodon
Recently, a minority government was established in the Republic of Moldova at the initiative of the Moldovan president – Igor Dodon. It was formed of only one party – the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM) – which is unofficially led by Igor Dodon (according to the law, the president can’t be a member of a political party). The socialists helped by democrats (the Democratic Party of Moldova – DPM) offered the confidence vote to the Government led by Ion Chicu, who is a closely connected person to the president. Therefore, President Dodon has now more and more influence on the key state institutions for promoting his own vision on how the things should be done in the Republic of Moldova. How is that possible? Let’s take it one by one.
On November 12th, the government led by Maia Sandu fell as a result of the no-confidence motion submitted by PSRM in the Parliament. The representatives of the previous government coalition (PSRM and the political bloc ACUM) couldn’t reach a compromise regarding submitting the list of candidates for the position of Prosecutor General. The no-confidence motion was voted by 63 Members of the Parliament (MPs) – 34 MPs from PSRM and 29 deputies from DPM.
The next day, socialists declared their support for the initiative of President Igor Dodon to create a minority Government. “It will be made up of professionals, apolitical and technocratic people, to ensure the good development and progress of the Republic of Moldova. […] The next Government will be a technocratic one, not a political one. However, the Government will have all the powers to implement the economic and social projects that the PSRM has promoted so far.” it was said in a PSRM statement.
Political experts though, have very big doubts that an apolitical minority government controlled by one political party is possible, from the very beginning, being clear that it will be directly connected to PSRM and President Dodon.
In such a way, beside assuming the responsibility for the minority government in Moldova, PSRM is currently represented by the speaker and the vice-president of the Parliament, as well as by four members of the Permanent Bureau of the legislative power.
The new prime minister along with the new Government were appointed as quick as lighting, President Dodon said there is no reason to wait 90 days as the law stipulates and Ion Chicu (the former adviser of the President Dodon) was appointed the prime minister of the country. In reality, all of it seemed like a hell of a plan: ruling in a coalition to gain credibility internationally and, at the proper moment, getting rid of it and establishing a new, controllable Government with the support of own political party.
Beside Prime Minister Ion Chicu, there are five more former advisers to the head of state who were appointed Ministers in the new Cabinet, as well as the PSRM lawyer. That is one of the reasons why the newly established Government can’t be categorised as apolitical by political analysts and civil society.
The first signs of attempting to control the Government were openly manifested at the first sitting of the Cabinet of Ministers, which was personally chaired by the President Dodon, even though that challenges the principle of separation of power in a state. The sitting was suddenly and without any explanation held behind closed doors, albeit it was initially announced as public.
“The Government led by Chicu is meant to solve problems certainly in the interests of society, but especially in the interests of the head of state. This is obvious,” declared the analyst Igor Boțan for FRE/RL.
Former Prime Minister Maia Sandu declared that she had information about negotiations between President Dodon, socialists and democrats to tear down the government since September. “No matter if we had assumed the responsibility (for the amendments to the Law on Prosecutor’s Office) or not, the government would have been anyway dismissed.[…] I was aware that, once Plahotniuc was away, Dodon would also try to subordinate the state institutions, but we could not fight both Plahotniuc and Dodon at the same time. We had to get rid of the most toxic first. The fact that Dodon subsequently violated the agreements with ACUM, showed his true self,” said Maia Sandu in an interview for G4Media.ro.
The Prosecutor General
The General Prosecutor’s Office (GPO) has a new Prosecutor General – Alexandr Stoianoglo, the only candidate (out of 4 proposed) who previously had a political (DPM) affiliation. President Igor Dodon signed the decree and presented him to the GPO. Everything happened in less than 24 hours since the interviews with candidates were conducted. “The appointment of the Prosecutor General is a long awaited moment, in order to overcome the deadlock of the General Prosecutor’s Office. I reiterate that, nowadays, the Republic of Moldova cannot afford to maintain a key institution in a semi-functional regime,” declared Igor Dodon.
Despite the lawsuit filed by the deputy of Prosecutor General Eduard Bulat against the Ministry of Justice, as well as the allegations made by former Minister of Justice Olesea Stamate, the same list of four candidates for the position of Prosecutor General was transmitted to the Superior Council of Prosecutors (SCP) by the decision of the new Minister of Justice, Fadei Nagacevschi.
More details on the subject here.
“The political situation that took place around the dismissal of the Government led by Sandu and the appointment of the Government led by Chicu was the high stake of President Igor Dodon to obtain and take control of the Prosecutor General, which would give him personal comfort and neutralise any surprise that could have appeared in the case of an independent prosecutor, as well as would ensure him a smooth election campaign and the second term in the next presidential elections,” opinated the economic expert Veaceslav Negruța in a press conference organised by IPN and Radio Moldova.
Accent TV (one of four TV stations affiliated with PSRM) has been renamed “the First in Moldova” and has obtained the right to re-transmit the broadcasts of the Russian main TV station Pervii Kanal. After the creation of “the First in Moldova” TV channel, Telesistem TV SRL (the founder of Accent TV) requested to the Audiovisual Council (AC) to issue a new broadcast license for the TV station Accent TV. Previously, Prime TV, a TV station affiliated with the former democrat leader Vladimir Plahotniuc, had this exclusive right.
Additionally, two other televisions – NTV Moldova, which re-transmits the Russian NTV channel, and Exclusiv TV, which re-transmits the Russian TV station TNT – are both administered by Exclusiv Media SRL, founded by the PSRM member Corneliu Furculiță.
As a result of these events, several NGOs from Moldova expressed their concern about the latest decisions of the AC, which would, according to them, stimulate media monopolisation in the Republic of Moldova. Also, the NGOs drew the attention of the AC members to the fact that PSRM affiliated TV stations reflect the most important topics on the public agenda by strongly favouring and promoting the PSRM members.
“It may happen that we will have an ideology that dominates the country again. We already had a time when everyone was thinking the same way. This led to nothing. The history repeats itself. When the government is changing, the redistribution of the media market is beginning. It’s sad. It proves that we didn’t develop as a society, as a state or as a political culture,” said the media expert Ion Bunduchi.
Igor Dodon is one of the most trusted persons in the Moldovan society. According to the last survey performed by the Public Opinion Fund, 26% of respondents said they trust President Igor Dodon the most. Therefore, having the society’s support, control over media and the most important state institutions, it seems that the plans of President Dodon to gain the second presidential seat and switch to the presidential system have a big potential to become true. But will they?
Former Prime Minister Vladimir Filat was released from detention
Former prime minister Vladimir Filat was freed from detention on December 3rd, after a request was registered at the Chișinău District Court by the administration of the prison no. 13 (the prison where the former prime minister spent his detention) on November 12th. The detention of Vladimir Filat was reduced by 709 days based on the decision of the national court as compensation for the inhuman and degrading treatment that was inflicted to him.
Vladimir Filat was supposed to serve a nine years prison sentence until November 5th, 2022. However, the law provides for the possibility of conditional release after serving 2/3 of the sentence. The former prime minister could have been released from detention on October 15th, 2021.
However, in July and October this year, there were two court decisions (based on a decision of the European Court of Human Rights) on reducing the sentence by 709 days, as a compensation for the bad conditions of detention. Thus, after the execution of 709 days reduction, it was concluded that Vladimir Filat has already reached 2/3 of his sentence on November 6th.
“Filat was sentenced to nine years in prison. Two-thirds of the sentence is six years. Now he’s four years old. One year was calculated for two, because he was sentenced in inhuman conditions. […] The law allows that when there are no civil actions and no recovery of damages,” explained Filat’s lawyer Ion Vâzdoaga for TV8.
Vladimir Filat was sentenced to nine years of imprisonment on October 15th, 2015, being found guilty of passive corruption and traffic of influence. His criminal case was directly related to the disappearance of one billion dollars from 3 banks of the Republic of Moldova.
There is also a second criminal case, in which the former prime minister is charged with committing large-scale money laundering. The former prime minister pleads innocent.
Violence against women in Moldova. Facts and figures
The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) launched the “Break the Silence” campaign in the Republic of Moldova and throughout Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, on the occasion of the annual 16-Day Activism Against Violence campaign. According to the OSCE research, women who face violence in Moldova rarely contact the police.
The study revealed that three out of four women think that violence against women (VAW) is common in Moldova. Cases of VAW remain under-reported to police and other specialised organisations because of a lack of trust in institutions among women and a limited specialised services for survivors of violence. Also, according to the survey conducted within the OSCE study, one third of women personally know someone subjected to domestic violence among their family and friends, and the same percentage within their local neighbourhood. Two out of five women say that they have experienced physical or sexual violence since the age of 15 by a partner or non-partner.
Therefore, just as in other countries where the survey was conducted – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo and Ukraine – violence against women remains a huge social problem in Moldova, as well as a serious violation of human rights and the most serious form of discrimination against women. “The research conducted by the OSCE is essential for raising awareness with policy and lawmakers, but also the general public, law enforcement agencies and many other stakeholders. […] Attitudes, norms, and beliefs that justify violence against women need to be tackled at their root, as they continue to perpetuate this grave human rights violation. This survey provides the information needed to take action,” said Serani Siegel, OSCE Project Manager.
According to a study conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), violence against women is more common among women in rural areas, the phenomenon is more often with the age of the woman and it is indirectly related to her level of education. The married women are more reluctant to report cases of violence and, consequently, the highest rates of reported VAW is recorded for divorced women and widows.
60% of women from Moldova reported at least one form of psychological violence, while physical violence was disclosed by about 40% of women. About 19% of women said they suffered sexual violence at least once in their life. (Violence against women report, NBS, 2011)
13 women were killed by one family member, and another 22 women lost their lives as a result of traumas caused by their partners since 2018, as NGOs official data revealed.
Most of the time, the women do not report the cases of violence because they are afraid of the aggressor, they are blamed by the society, they do not trust the authorities and the judiciary, they do not have sufficient financial resources and employment opportunities (especially if they have children), and the support services are insufficient or even missing.
Several organisations and representatives of civil society are calling for the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) until the end of 2019. The NGOs from Moldova also launched an appeal the President of the Parliament of Moldova Zinaida Greceanîi and to Prime Minister Ion Chicu.
The Istanbul Convention is currently the most effective international tool to ensure the prevention and fight against VAW, being based on the belief that VAW seriously violates the fundamental rights to life, security, freedom, dignity, physical and emotional integrity of women. The document calls on implementation of comprehensive and coordinated policies against this type of violence, governmental support for specialised non-governmental organisations (NGOs), collection of relevant data, changes in social and cultural models for eradication of prejudices, customs, traditions and other practices, which are based on the idea of inferiority of women or on stereotypical roles for women and men.
The document also provides for the development of support services for victims, raising awareness, education and training of professionals, participation of private sector and media in preventing and combating violence, etc.
The Istanbul Convention was signed by Moldova on February 6th, 2017 but until now its ratification has been delayed, even though the representatives of the Government and the Parliament have repeatedly assumed a public commitment in this regard.
Moldova is part of the European Convention on Human Rights since September 12th, 1997. The Convention is the main instrument within the Council of Europe for guaranteeing fundamental human rights. Moldova also has an obligation not to infringe the guaranteed rights and freedoms and to ensure adequate judicial protection.
Since 2008, the Republic of Moldova regulated domestic violence, adopting the Law on Preventing and Combating Domestic Violence. The law prohibits the aggressor from approaching victims for a specific period. Still, the authorities do not have an effective mechanism of protection, as the victim is rarely offered a place in a specialised centre, psychological counselling and material assistance.
In 2017, the Government of the Republic of Moldova adopted the National Strategy on Prevention and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence for 2018-2023 and the National Action Plan for 2018-2020 regarding its implementation.
The National Coalition “Life without domestic violence” is an informal platform that gathered 21 NGOs and public institutions that try to do their best in their work to prevent and fight against domestic violence.
The Coalition members managed to provide telephone counselling, emergency and long-term psychological counselling, legal, primary and qualified assistance, social assistance, financial support, material and placement to 5600 beneficiaries, working in 1681 localities with the direct involvement of 200 specialists.
There are also local projects supported by international organisations involved in fighting against VAW. One of them is “Combating violence against women in the Republic of Moldova: exploring and learning from local solutions” – a pilot project from Autonomous Territorial Unit (ATU) Gagauzia, supported by UNDP Moldova. The purpose of this project is to help the local implementation of the the National Strategy on Prevention and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence for 2018-2023 and to use the lessons learned, as well as the results of the initiative proposed in the pilot project, for offering improved policy recommendations to the decision makers.
Photo: Tumisu – Pixabay
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