On 26th August 2018, thousands rallied at the Great National Assembly Square in Chișinău, Moldova's capital. Participants of the protest chanted "down with the Government, down with the mafia" to denounce government corruption.
Tens of Thousands Protest Against Corruption in Chisinau https://t.co/HJzT9DRSW1#Moldova #protest #antigovernment #Chisinau #Corruption— Bjarne Kim Pedersen (@bjarnekim) August 27, 2018
raise your flag
so everybody can see the people
no to corruption
On 26th August 2018, thousands rallied at the Great National Assembly Square in Chișinău, Moldova's capital. Participants of the protest chanted "down with the Government, down with the mafia" to denounce government corruption. People's discontent regarding government policies has increased in recent months, especially after a court judgment which nullified a victory by opposition leader Andrei Năstase in Chisinau's mayoral elections. The incident saw people on the streets for several days in June 2018 as reported by the Monitor.
A counter-protest was organised by supporters of Ilan Sor, a politician and businessperson who was convicted for masterminding a 1 million USD theft that almost bankrupted Moldova. Although no major incidents took place during the rallies, the police intervened to separate both protests. On the morning of 27th August 2018, riot police forcefully removed the remaining protesters.
Several media organisations voiced their concern about restricting TV8 journalists' access to a press briefing of the Democratic Party of Moldova on 14th September 2018. The organisations believe the restriction is based on the ruling party's disagreement with the editorial policy of the media outlet. The organisations claimed that journalists from other media outlets were allow to cover the briefing and condemned:
[T]he selective admission of journalists to public events, and we qualify them as unacceptable for any political party, but especially for a ruling party that qualifies itself as an adept of democratic values."
In a separate incident, a Radio Free Europe journalist was assaulted by Ilan Sor supporters during the counter-protest on 26th August 2018, as reported in the Peaceful Assembly section above.
In September 2018 several events organised by civil society took place in Moldova. One of the events, organised by the Center for Legal Resources of the Republic of Moldova (CRJM) was a training for civil society organisations outside the capital city, to access funds provided through the "2% mechanism". As previously explained on the Monitor, the mechanism allows individuals in Moldova to designate 2% of their income tax to nongovernmental organisations.
The GROW conference, organised by regional organisation Piligrim-Demo took place at the end of September 2018 in Gagauzia and gathered representatives from local civil society, journalists, national and foreign experts to discuss the development of CSOs. The GROW Conference is a discussion and a debate platform for Gagauzian civil society issues to which local authorities are invited to take part in.
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.