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Moldova

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Last updated on 27.04.2018 at 14:54

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NGO petitions public authorities to refrain from harmful speech

NGO petitions public authorities to refrain from harmful speech

Promo-LEX Association in Moldova has requested that the authorities investigate actions that incite hate speech and violence against persons who are in favour of the unification of the Republic of Moldova with Romania.

Expression

Promo-LEX Association in Moldova has requested that the authorities investigate actions that incite hate speech and violence against persons who are in favour of the unification of the Republic of Moldova with Romania. According to Promo-Lex, on 9th April 2018 a Facebook post was published with a picture that could potentially incite hatred or violence against those supporting unification. The national legal framework prohibits actions aimed at enforcing national or ethnic divisions and devaluing national honour and dignity on national, ethnic, racial or religious affiliation.

Promo-LEX made a public appeal, asking that President Igor Dodon, who has published some similar messages on billboards, dissociate himself from such messages that divide Moldovan society. Also, experts are asking the law enforcement officers to intervene promptly and investigate harmful public messages. In the same context, Promo-Lex experts and lawyers ask public actors, political figures and social networking users to refrain from messages that incite hate speech and discrimination.

Peaceful Assembly

On 31st March 2018, Amnesty International Moldova, along with other non-governmental human rights organisations, held a public action to remind the government that the victims of the 7th April 2009 protests have been waiting for justice for nine years. During the 2009 post-election protests, police detained hundreds of protesters and there were documented cases of ill-treatment by police in detention. 

The April 2009 events brought to light several underlying systemic problems that facilitate torture and other ill-treatment in the Republic of Moldova. Nine years after the flagrant abuses, the lack of sanctions against those guilty of violence shows that this issue remains unresolved.

Association

On 28th March 2018, the Ministry of Justice sent the draft law on non-commercial organisations (the legal term used in Moldovan legislation for NGOs) to Parliament. Having such a law is a provision within the National Action Plan on the Implementation of the Association Agreement with the European Union. The law was developed in collaboration with civil society representatives over several years. Though there were attempts by government officials to make certain worrisome amendments, civil society signatories of a joint statement expressed satisfaction with the draft law as it stands and urged the government to pass it without making any unilateral amendments. 

Association in Moldova

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.


Peaceful Assembly-Moldova

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.


Expression-Moldova

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.


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