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New debates on judicial reform – a CoE working group pays a visit to Moldova these days



An working group created by the Council of Europe (CoE) pays a visit to Chișinău, on January 20-21, for conducting discussions regarding the implementation of judicial reform in Moldova. Prime Minister Ion Chicu had a meeting with members of the working group, led by Christos Giakoumopoulos, Director General of Human Rights and Rule of Law of the Council of Europe. The working group was created by the Council of Europe to support the Republic of Moldova in the implementation of judicial reform, according to an official statement issued by the Government of the Republic of Moldova.

During the meeting, the head of the CoE delegation highlighted the need for the active involvement of all stakeholders in the drafting of the law on judicial reform. “We are here to help, to minimise risks. We will be partners in this process. We are ready to provide the necessary support to the Republic of Moldova, in terms of consultancy, but also technical assistance for the successful implementation of the judicial reform,” said the official.

Besides, discussions on previously sent to the Council of Europe set of documents reporting the progress of the judicial reform were held, including the strategy for ensuring the independence and integrity of the judiciary for the period 2020-2023, the action plan for implementing the strategy and the draft law on the evaluation of judges.

At the same time, the experts of the Council of Europe recommended to the Government of the Republic of Moldova to ensure a real process of public discussions of the draft law on the evaluation of judges with all the interested parties, including the judiciary and civil society representatives. Only afterwards, the project can be submitted to the Venice Commission for expertise.

The CoE representatives mentioned that it would be unacceptable to speed up the drafting process only to be able to submit it for examination to the Venice Commission during the March plenary session. It was recommended to submit the draft law on the evaluation of judges rather at the June 2020 plenary session.

The agenda of the CoE delegation includes meetings with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova, the President of the Parliament, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, the Prosecutor General, the Superior Council of Magistrates representatives, the Superior Council of Prosecutors representatives, the Director of the National Institute of Justice, as well as representatives of civil society and other officials from judicial and diplomatic areas.

Also today, the leader of the Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS), Maia Sandu, and the member of the Parliament, Sergiu Litvinenco, declared, in a press conference, that the new judges’ evaluation process is a disappointment, blaming the socialists and its unofficial leader Igor Dodon of attempting to take control of the judiciary.

“The current Government completely discredits the judicial reform. It tries to subordinate the judiciary to political interests. The proposals of the Government, as they appear in the draft law that was made public, present a major deviation from the judicial reform, promoted by us,” declared the PAS leader. In the opinion of Maia Sandu, judges and prosecutors from Moldovan judiciary have to be evaluated by independent experts from outside the country.

“The proposed mechanism is very dangerous. It is clear that no external evaluation of judges is foreseen. […] It could happen that honest judges are excluded from the system, while those who have integrity problems may remain,” added Sergiu Litvinenco.

Yet, Minister of Justice, Fadei Nagacevschi, denied the presence of political interest in judiciary and reminded that the evaluation process is to be monitored by a commission formed of 5 international experts and 5 national experts, the latter being elected by a Parliament’s special designated commission.

“There is a message of inconsistency. On the one hand, the desire to evaluate the judiciary for excluding corrupt judges is criticized, on the other hand, the cleansing of the Prosecutor’s Office is requested. […] The public accusations regarding the judges’ evaluation tool, as an attempt to take over the control over judiciary, has no reasonable argumentation. Instead, it forces me to ask myself questions about the real purpose of the former government, which promoted the evaluation tool in a clearly politicized manner, contrary to the Constitution of Moldova and international standards,” stated Nagacevschi on social media.



The desperate call of Moldovan doctors and the reasons why medical system can’t resist too long



The first medical employee from the Republic of Moldova, Ecaterina Litvinschi – a 79-year-old woman who died because of coronavirus – was buried these days. The woman worked as a medical emergency doctor at at a National Center for Emergency Medicine for about 35 years. According to her relatives’ declarations, she was buried on the edge of a Chisinau cemetery, in a special area where those contaminated with coronavirus were expected to be buried:

sector 277, tomb no. 1

“Historically, those who end their days by suicide were buried on the far side or outside the cemetery. Is that an “honour” attached to a hero doctor?” wondered a relative of the deceased doctor.

Also, the relatives of the medical emergency doctor mentioned that the hospital administration, where the victim was previously hospitalised, insisted to not disclose the fact that Ecaterina was infected being on call to an already infected person, without special equipment and without being warned by the emergency service 112.

Not enough protective measures for medical staff

Out of the currently confirmed 298 cases of infections with COVID-19, 60 are medical workers, according to the information provided by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Protection. Moreover, until two days ago, authorities refused to present information on cases of COVID-19 infection among medical workers, giving assurances that doctors have protective equipment and urging journalists not to seek sensations.

The National Ombudsman Mihail Cotorobai made a request addressed to Prime Minister Ion Chicu, in which he informed about the intention of a high number of doctors to submit letter of resignation due to the lack of the protective equipment, which would provide safe working conditions to the medical personnel.

Mihail Cotorobai asked to urgently identify additional funds to ensure protective measures against COVID-19 contagion, both at the level of hospital medical institutions and at the level of primary health care centres. “The recommended measures are imperative both to ensure the patients’ right to high-quality medical services, as well as to ensure safety of the employees of the health system who are put at major risk of contagion due to non-working conditions,” the Ombudsman said.

Currently, six medical institutions in the country are being involved in the treatment of coronavirus patients. Next week other district and municipal medical institutions will be delegated to hospitalise infected patients. The authorities announced that a triage centre is prepared to be organised at the Moldexpo Exhibition Center. By Wednesday, it will be fully equipped, including with 700 beds.

“The number of confirmed cases is increasing, we reiterate the call to citizens to be very cautious. We are sure that if we follow the rules, we will not allow a jump in coronavirus cases and we will have the capacity to handle the situation. This gloomy scenario can be avoided if we are supportive. It is clear that we will overcome this situation, and the authorities and citizens will make the necessary efforts,” stated the prime minister during a press conference.

The announcement of the prime minister sounded optimistic. More and more desperate calls appear online though, being posted by journalists, politicians, artists, regarding the precarious situation in the medical institutions of the Republic of Moldova. Most of them are made anonymously, as medical workers fear to lose their jobs.

The member of the Parliament Radu Marian posted on social media, on March 28, a message sent to him by a person whose mother works as a nurse at the municipal hospital in Balti (one of the hospitals involved in the treatment of coronavirus patients).

“My mother is scared to go to work. She receives one mask for 24 hours and 2 pairs of gloves without other equipment. They write something else on the paper. It’s like fighting on a battlefield without any weapons. […] I wrote to you as a child who is afraid of losing his mother because of the incompetence of the authorities and because of the situation in the hospitals of Moldova,” is said in the message.

According to the data presented by the authorities, during this weekend, there were reported the most cases of infection per day since the beginning of the epidemic in Moldova.

Not enough resources

Doctor in medical sciences, specialist in Intensive Care, Tihon Moraru called on the authorities to take urgent measures on acquiring the necessary equipment for managing the patients in need for intensive care. He mentioned that in order to be able to provide the necessary treatment to 50-100 critical patients, there is a need of at least 30 to 40 high performance mechanical ventilators, produced in the USA, Germany or Japan.

“I am afraid that we are late by 3-4 weeks, it will be very difficult for the equipment to be brought to the country. This can only be achieved by the authorities of our country and as quickly as possible. […] I believe that the maximum number of hospitalisations for the serious and critical patients will be between the middle of April and the beginning of May, which is why this devices of vital necessity must be brought to the country as urgently as possible. […] They are very necessary for the intensive care units of the country, especially those of the district hospitals of the country, where these devices are outdated,” specified Tihon Moraru.

The Moldovan authorities announced that 200 thousand protective screens and 500 filter masks were purchased in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the purchased protective screens represent only 10% of the announced necessary quantity, while the acquired amount of filter masks cover 25% of the health system current needs, reported ZdG.

Being contacted by ZdG, the manager of the company responsible for acquiring the protective goods said that, at the moment, the company does not have the products in stock, while importing them from China is a complicated procedure that will surely result in delivery delays, given the pandemic conditions.

Not enough tested persons

Another 32 people were lastly confirmed as being infected with the new type of coronavirus, after 246 samples were processed in the laboratory of the National Agency for Public Health, announced the portal. That amounts a total of 5 324 persons who were tested, including family doctors and mayors. Given the exponential growth rate of the contagion demonstrated in other countries, the number of tested persons in the Republic of Moldova can be concluded as being way too low.

Enough Government assurances that “all is kept under control”

For purchasing 200 000 protective screens and 500 000 filter masks, the Government of the Republic of Moldova approved the allocation of 36 million lei from the reserve fund. “It is a measure to ensure protective equipment for the next period. We have enough equipment, but we are preparing for the second half of April and May,” said Prime Minister Ion Chicu.

At the same time, some district hospitals already have taken decisions of replacing at least a part of their old equipment using their institution budget or by applying to international funds and calling for foreign governments’ donations of protective goods, disinfectants, tests, etc.

Photo: Facebook| Ala Nemerenco

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Coronavirus: Charter flights are organised to pick up Moldovans from abroad



An official notification of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration (MFAEI) informed yesterday that exceptional charter flights for repatriating Moldovan citizens who are in a difficult situation while staying abroad will be organised.

“According to the Provision no. 6 of the Commission for Exceptional Situations, the MFAEI will coordinate the process of repatriation of the citizens of the Republic of Moldova with the charter flights. The diplomatic and consular missions will update the information about people being in a difficult situation abroad, giving priority to children, students, persons undergoing medical treatment, and other categories of disadvantaged citizens,” is stated in the notification.

Citizens of Moldova who are interested in returning home are able to register online on the web and Facebook pages of Moldova’s embassies and consulates from their host country. The list of missions can be found here.

Also, the Ministry informed that the priority destinations for charter flights will be proposed for approval to the Commission for Exceptional Situations that authorises the flights.

Exceptional charter travel tickets can be purchased directly from the flight operators. Updated information on the authorised charter flights can be found on the official page of the Civil Aeronautical Authority of the Republic of Moldova here. Today, for example the following flights were operated:

  • Chisinau-Moscow (Domodedovo)-Chisinau;
  • Chisinau- London- Chisinau.

Upon arrival in the capital city, passengers must undergo the medical evaluation procedure and will be placed in self-isolation for 14 days.

Photo: Suhyeon Choi |Unsplash

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How does coronavirus spread? Churches can easily become a contagion epicentre



While WHO highly recommends to avoid crowded places as much as possible during this period, and while several countries have reported churches as the focal point of their major coronavirus outbreaks, Moldovan churches still oppose the Governments quarantine measures and continue to encourage people to attend their religious ceremonies.

Today, another 22 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in Moldova. That means a total of 199 cases. Prime minister Ion Chicu announced in a press conference, after the meeting of the Single Command Center for Crisis Management Caused by COVID-19 Virus, that 20 people were confirmed as being infected after returning from a trip to Poceaev Lavra –  a monastery from Ukraine. Among them are two priests who tested positive.

“The Ministry of Internal Affairs gave clear instructions not to allow religious services to be conducted with the parishioners participation. If these ceremonies take place, sanctions provided by the law will be applied,” declared the head of the Executive.

Last weekend, churches were still allowed to conduct open space ceremonies in compliance with all precaution rules. The process of religious services was supervised by the police. Policemen reported, over the weekend, that out of 1062 churches registered in Moldova, 382 churches respected the rules and conducted the services outside and 305 religious institutions either stopped the activity or the ceremonies took place without parishioners. The rest of them simply ignored all precautionary measures and continued to pretend that there is no pandemic situation in the country.

The Facebook page of a religious institution from Chisinau posted several images from the Holy Liturgy, where both people and priests wore protective masks. The service took place outside and those present were staying at a distance from each other. Still, how efficient are these measures if the Eucharist provides using the same spoon by all present people, as per Eastern Orthodox Church traditions?

Source: Facebook| St. Dumitru Church in Chisinau

“I noticed that, unfortunately, the church servants do not show respect first of all to the doctors who repair the errors of the whole society. I very much hope that none of those priests will become infected and reach the medical institutions, because our doctors will help them, but not using the same ‘spoon’ for all,” declared Ion Chicu.

Source: Facebook| St. Dumitru Church in Chisinau

Earlier, on March 13, the Moldovan authorities announced that all religious ceremonies have to be ceased for a period of 14 days. However, the Moldovan Orthodox Church representatives encouraged the religious institutions from all over the country to continue their activity, defying any rules imposed. No enforcing measures were taken by authorities, but only mentioning about the sanctions application.

Thus, there is one more important matter to be questioned: how many epicentres of coronavirus outbreaks have already been created by the Moldovan churches and how many will they still create until understanding that the situation is more than critical?

Photo: Facebook| St. Dumitru Church in Chisinau

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