Human Rights Watch World Report 1994 - Moldova

Publisher Human Rights Watch
Publication Date 1 January 1994
Cite as Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Watch World Report 1994 - Moldova, 1 January 1994, available at: [accessed 16 October 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Events of 1993

Compared with the gross violations committed in 1992, when armed conflict raged in Moldova's eastern territories, the country's human rights situation improved in 1993. Fear of large-scale ethnic discrimination – an ostensible cause of much of last year's conflict – proved largely unfounded. The situation remained worrisome, however.

The self-proclaimed "Dniester Moldovan Republic" (DMR), which took control of a strip of land between the Dniester River and the Ukrainian border in 1992, de facto seceded from the Republic of Moldova, and the government in the Moldovan capital of Chisinau ceased monitoring human rights practices or prosecuting violators in the secessionist area. Moreover, chaos reigned in the halls of government. The country debated whether to retain full independence or to join the Commonwealth of Independent States; several high-ranking government officials resigned; and Parliament was crippled by numerous walk-outs and the prospect of elections. As a result, human rights legislation fell from parliamentary agendas, and investigation and prosecution of civil and political violations were neglected by law enforcement bodies.

One of the most vivid cases of human rights abuse involved six men on trial on criminal charges in Tiraspol, the regional "capital" of the "DMR." They were arrested during the conflict of spring and summer 1992 on charges of terrorism; after several aborted beginnings of a trial, all six remained incarcerated, as of November 1993. Violations of these defendants' right to due process included denial of their right to counsel and alleged gross mistreatment in detention. Since most were former members of the Popular Front of Moldova, which had vehemently opposed the "DMR" authorities, it was possible that the terrorism charges against these men were politically motivated.

Nina Maximovtsela, the defense attorney for one of those charged, reported that she had suffered from serious harassment in the "DMR" in connection with her work. She claimed she had been under surveillance, threatened by one of the investigators in the case and by several unidentified individuals, and attacked with a knife, and that her apartment had been broken into, all, she believed, for the purposes of intimidating her. The Moldovan government sent guards for her protection during the summer, but the "DMR" government rejected their authority, leaving her with no legal recourse.

The Right to Monitor

With the exception of minor harassment reported by members of the Romanian Helsinki Committee in the "DMR," such as apparent stalling on the part of local authorities in granting them a visit with a prisoner, Helsinki Watch received no reports of restrictions or attempted restrictions of the work of human rights monitors during 1993.

U.S. Policy

Four residents of Moldova participated in a program in the United States, sponsored by the U.S. Information Agency (USIA), to study protection of minority rights, an issue of particular concern in Moldova. Moldova was also the beneficiary of an Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) agreement and enjoyed Most Favored Nation status.

The Work of Helsinki Watch

Helsinki Watch tried during 1993 to focus international attention on the various violations committed in connection with the "terrorism" trial in Tiraspol. In August Helsinki Watch wrote to the International Commission of Jurists raising concerns about the harassment of Nina Maximovtsela, the defense lawyer for one of the defendants, and requesting action for her protection. In September a letter was sent to the de facto authorities requesting clemency for Andrei Ivanţoc, one of the six defendants facing terrorism charges in Tiraspol. Mr. Ivanţoc wasunder medical observation for psychiatric and physiological disorders, yet, except for one month, was kept in prison pending the completion of the trial.

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