On 16th May, civil society organisations urged the Parliament to adopt the draft Law on Non-Commercial Organizations, without introducing any amendments.
On 16th May 2018, 35 civil society organisations urged the Parliament to adopt the draft Law on Non-Commercial Organizations, without introducing any amendments that could limit the right to freedom of expression and access to foreign funding of CSOs. The organisations also called on the government to engage in a transparent and open debate if changes to the existing draft law were to be made, as the legislation was developed in consultation with CSOs from its initial stage.
At the end of March 2018, the Center for Legal Resources of Moldova (CRJM) published a practical guide for civil society organisations to improve the communication of their mission with the public and to suggest a number of tools CSOs can used to promote their work at a minimum cost. This guide comes in the context of a new law, the so-called 2% Law, which grants individuals the right to direct 2% of their income tax annually to non-governmental organisations acting in the public interest and/or to religious organisations. The law was approved by the Parliament in 2014, followed by government-issued regulations in 2016. One of the benefits of such a mechanism, as shown in other countries where similar mechanisms exist, is the more effective communication of organisations with the public on their work and mission.
Moldovan Police Repel Orthodox Activists Trying To Crash LGBT Marchhttps://t.co/rrPDl80dRI— dariusrock (@dariusrock) May 24, 2018
Several people protested in front of the Parliament in late May 2018 requesting the government to forbid the promotion of same sex relationships and sex education at schools. In response, the LGBTI community described the action as illegal.
The protest action was organised by a Moldovan religious association (Fericită Maică Matronă) and took place after the LGBTI community organised the "No Fear of Love" demonstration on 19th May 2018. This demonstration resulted in altercations between the police and some of the religious protesters opposing the march.
On 14th June 2018 the Parliament approved the National Concept of Media Development, confirming the country's compliance with European requirements regarding media freedom and the creation of an enabling environment for journalists.
Meanwhile, a first debate was organised in Parliament to discuss a new draft law on advertising. The draft law's objective is to "improve the legal framework for advertising, aligning it to the European law." Proponents of the law, stated that the main purpose is to ensure transparency in the advertising market and self-regulation regarding political advertising during the pre-electoral period.
With a few exceptions, the freedom of association is well regulated and well respected in Moldova.
Freedom of association in the Republic of Moldova is regulated by the Law on Nongovernmental Associations, which was amended in 2007 to harmonise national rules with international standards on the development of NGOs. According to current legislation, a non-profit organisation can be created by a minimum of two individuals or legal entities. Information on the regulation of NGOs is also publicly available and the web portal of the Ministry of Justice has a special page dedicated to the associative sector where one can find both legislation regulating this field and models of statute necessary for the registration process of an NGO. Most representatives of non-governmental organisations appreciate the role played by the Ministry of Justice in the regulation of the sector. However, there are certain circumstances in which registration procedures are hampered by other public or private institutions, including the Tax Inspectorate, Ministry of Finance or banks. At the beginning of 2016, Moldova changed the procedure for opening a bank account, making it more difficult for some NGOs to open an account and negatively affecting their ability to receive funds from international donors. Civil society has also highlighted that unregistered, informal groups are not officially recognised or included in the legislation regulating non-profits. Consequently, they cannot compete with registered NGOs for funding for their initiatives. Additionally, most donors prefer to fund well-established, registered NGOs.
With the exception of protests in Transnistria, it is relatively easy for people to exercise their right to freedom of peaceful assembly in Moldova. Approval for protests is usually issued within 2-3 days, and the authorities must ensure the safety of those protesting.
It is relatively easy to organise and conduct a protest in support of most causes, even political ones - with the notable exception of protests in Transnistria. While freedom of assembly is guaranteed by law, in the past there have been situations in which this right was obstructed by the government authorities, for instance during the 'Twitter revolution' in April, 2009. There are signs of improvement however, and in the last two years several large scale protests - some of them anti-government - we successfully and peacefully held. Not all protests are carried off peacefully and on two occassions in January and April 2016 some protestors have used violence, resulting in the injury of several policemen. Mostly, civil society appreciates the police's neutrality during protests. On 22 May 2016, when there was a protest to raise awareness regarding the rights of sexual minorities (Fearless), the police played an important role in preventing possible violence between protestors and counter demonstrators. Although authorisation to hold a protest is required, it is usually issued within 2-3 days, and the authorities must ensure the safety of those protesting.
Free expression is generally respected although a politicised media sector undermines this to some extent. A proposed law to regulate cyberspace could allow authorities to block websites and monitor users' personal content.
Freedom of expression is guaranteed by law although much of Moldova's media is either politically controlled or used for political purposes. Additionally, independent media has restricted access to advertising revenue and is consequently financed mostly from external programmes. Access to public information is also regulated by law and in 2015 a platform was launched allowing the public to access data on the founders of Moldovan companies (www.date.gov.md). Civil society welcomed the new platform as a useful tool for monitoring private sector accountability. In March 2016, the Ministry of Internal Affairs initiated a bill designed to regulate the online public space in order to combat pornography and terrorism. The initiative, still under debate, has been criticised by civil society for potentially granting the investigating authority the right to block sites and check personal message. Discriminatory speeches are periodically documented - most are made by religious groups demanding the repeal the Law on Equal Opportunities. Freedom of expression is under particular pressure in the Transnistrian region, where Moldovan government authorities do not exercise control.