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U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1994 - Moldova

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 30 January 1995
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1994 - Moldova, 30 January 1995, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa644.html [accessed 28 December 2014]
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.
 

 

Moldova, independent from the Soviet Union since 1991, adopted a new Constitution on August 27 which provides for a multiparty representative government with power divided among a directly elected president, the Cabinet, Parliament, and the judiciary. The first multiparty elections were held in February; independent observers considered them generally free and fair. The Democratic Agrarian Party achieved a slight majority and formed the new Government with Andrei Sangheli as Prime Minister, a post he has held since 1992.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs has responsibility for the police, who continue to employ beatings in dealing with some detainees and prisoners. The Ministry of National Security controls the security organs. The Constitution assigns to Parliament the authority to investigate the activities of these Ministries to ensure they comply with legislation in effect, and it did so on several occasions. There are credible accusations that security forces monitor political opposition members and use unauthorized wiretaps. Opposition parties claimed that Security Ministry officials in some cases interfered with opposition activities during the election campaign. No public investigation of these charges took place.

Moldova made considerable progress in economic reform in 1994. A privatization program based on vouchers issued to all citizens is under way. Approximately 35 percent of enterprises will be privatized for vouchers. However, the economy is largely based on agriculture, and agricultural privatization continues to lag behind. Approximately 75 percent of collective farms have become joint stock companies, with ownership documents being issued to collective farmers. In addition, over 12,000 Moldovans have claimed land and are farming privately.

The new Constitution improved protection for basic human rights but incorporated language potentially limiting the activities of political parties and the press, especially Article 32, which forbids "contesting or defaming the State and the people," and Article 41, which declares unconstitutional parties that militate against the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Moldova. Interethnic relations improved as the new Parliament delayed the implementation of the controversial testing for competence in the state language Romanian (Moldovan), which many members of the minorities do not speak. The new Constitution guarantees parents the right to choose the language of education for their children, addressing another minority concern. Based on evaluations from the Council of Europe and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), the Parliament liberalized the restrictive draft press law under consideration, addressing many of the concerns of journalists regarding the initial draft. A draft "concept" of judicial reform, which would strengthen judicial independence, was approved, but many new laws needed to implement the concept were not enacted in 1994.

Moldova remained divided, with mostly Slavic separatists still controlling the Transdniester region. This separatist movement, led by a pro-Soviet group, entered negotiations with the Government on the possibility of a special political status for the region. Progress was blocked, however, by the separatists' demands for "statehood" and the creation of a confederation of two equal states. The CSCE and the Russian Federation acted as mediators. There are continuing credible reports that Transdniester authorities committed human rights abuses, although the scale of serious abuses is much smaller than in 1992. The two sides generally observed the cease-fire of July 1992, which ended armed conflict between them. In December Parliament passed a law according increased local autonomy to the region in the south inhabited largely by the Gagauz (Christian Turkic) minority.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

In the Transdniester region controlled by separatist forces, an attempt was made in March to kill a controversial prosecutor, Boris Lucik. Lucik's wife and bodyguard were killed in the attempt, and Lucik was seriously injured. It is not known who perpetrated the act; some sources accuse organized crime groups, while others accuse political opponents within the separatist regime. There were no other reports of politically motivated killings. Information from the Transdniester region is, however, limited.

b. Disappearance

There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

There were no allegations of torture of civil or criminal prisoners by Moldovan authorities in 1994, but there were credible reports that police sometimes beat prisoners or suspects in their custody.

In the Transdniester region, four Moldovans, whose trial was criticized by international human rights organizations, complained of mistreatment, including beatings and use of psychoactive drugs by authorities. Their treatment improved somewhat in 1994, and they were permitted more regular access to their families. Two other members of this group were released in 1994. One publicly stated that his evidence at the trial implicating the others had been the result of beatings and intimidation while in the custody of separatist authorities (see Section 1.e.). The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which visited Ilie Ilascu on two occasions (1992, 1993) in Tiraspol (Transdniester region), was denied the possibility to repeat such visits, despite numerous representations to the Tiraspol authorities. Prisoners complained of extremely harsh conditions in prisons, including inadequate sanitation, medical care, and food supplies. Prisoners also reported, credibly, that jailers did not intervene to prevent some prisoners from abusing others. In September parliamentarians formed a special commission to investigate charges of misconduct toward prisoners and detainees.

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The former Soviet Code on Penal Procedure remains in force with some amendments. Prosecutors, rather than judges, issue arrest warrants. Under the new Constitution, a suspect may be detained without charge for 24 hours (previously, detention of 72 hours was permitted). The suspect is normally allowed family visits during this period. The 72-hour time limit appeared to be generally respected; it is too soon to judge whether the new time limit is respected as well. If charged, a suspect may be released pending trial. There is no system of bail, but in some cases a friend or relative, in order to arrange release, may give a written undertaking that the accused will appear for trial.

Suspects accused of violent or serious crimes are generally not released before trial. The Criminal Code permitted pretrial detention for up to 18 months at the prosecutor's discretion. The new Constitution permits pretrial arrest for an initial period of 30 days, which may be extended to 6 months. Although arrest warrants are still issued by a prosecutor, the accused has the right under the new Constitution to a hearing before a court regarding the legality of his arrest. In exceptional cases, Parliament may approve extension of pretrial detention on an individual basis up to 12 months.

According to the new Constitution, a detained person must be informed immediately of the reason for his arrest, and he must be made aware of charges against him "as quickly as possible." The accused is provided the right to a defense attorney throughout the entire process, and the attorney must be present when the charges are brought.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The independence of the judiciary has increased since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The draft "concept" on judicial reform approved by Parliament moves toward further consolidating this independence but still falls short of providing a legal framework guaranteeing independence. The new Constitution provides that the President, on the nomination of an expert judicial body, the Superior Council of Magistrates, appoints judges for an initial period of 5 years. They may be reappointed for a subsequent 10 years, after which they serve until retirement age. The fact that judges may not be removed during their period of service should contribute to the independence of the judiciary.

While the proposed judicial reform would establish regional courts and an appeals court, the current structure has only two levels: local courts on the city or district level, and the Supreme Court, which acts as an appellate court. By law, defendants in criminal cases are presumed innocent. In practice, prosecutors' recommendations still carry considerable weight and limit defendants' right to a presumption of innocence.

Generally, trials are open to the public. Defendants have the right to attend proceedings, confront witnesses, and present evidence. Defense attorneys are able to review the evidence against their clients when preparing their cases. The accused enjoys a right to appeal to the Supreme Court. In a number of cases, decisions of the lower court were overturned on appeal. Members of the Russian-speaking minority have expressed concern that they will not receive equal treatment before the courts. To date, no pattern of discrimination has emerged in the judicial system. The new Constitution guarantees the right of the accused to have an interpreter both at the trial and in reviewing the documents in the case. If the majority of participants agree, trials may take place in Russian or another acceptable language instead of Romanian/Moldovan.

There continue to be credible reports that local prosecutors have brought unjustified charges against individuals in retribution for accusations of official corruption, or for political reasons.

In 1994 a small group of former Russian army soldiers were convicted of a series of auto thefts. Some ethnic Russian groups alleged that they did not receive a fair trial and that their treatment in detention and their sentences were unduly harsh. The soldiers appealed their convictions, but the Supreme Court let the sentences stand.

In the Transdniester region, four Moldovans, members of the "Tiraspol Six," remain in prison following their conviction in 1993 for allegedly assassinating two separatist officials. Two were released during 1994. International human rights groups raised serious questions about the fairness of the trial, and local organizations alleged that the Moldovans were prosecuted solely because of their membership in the Christian Democratic Popular Front, a Moldovan party that favors reunification with Romania (see Section 1.c.).

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

According to the 1990 police law, prosecutors, rather than judges, issue search warrants. There have been numerous instances in which searches were conducted without warrants, and courts do not exclude evidence that was illegally obtained. There is no judicial review of search warrants.

The new Constitution specifies that searches must be carried out "in accordance with law" but does not specify the consequences if the law is not respected. It also forbids searches at night, except in the case of flagrant crime.

Opponents of the Government continue to claim that security forces monitored and harassed them, especially during the election campaign. It is widely believed that the security forces continued to use electronic monitoring of residences and telephones in some cases, although confirmation of such activities is lacking. By law, the prosecutor's office must authorize wiretaps and may do so only if a criminal investigation is under way. In practice, the prosecutor's office lacks the ability to control the security organs and police and prevent them from using wiretaps illegally.

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

Freedom of speech is not abridged, and the print media express a wide variety of political views and commentary. National and city governments own most newspapers, but political parties and professional organizations, including trade unions, also publish newspapers.

Several independent radio stations began operation in 1994, including at least one religiously oriented station. The Government continues to control television (except for the increasingly popular cable television stations) as well as the major radio stations.

While the Government does not engage in censorship, journalists complain that editors encourage them to soften criticisms of government officials in order to avoid confrontation and possible retribution. In 1994 the state-run Television and Radio Company dismissed a number of employees, citing the need to reduce staff in view of budget restrictions. Many employees, alleging that they were dismissed for their political beliefs, appealed to the courts and were reinstated. Some press organs are making use of the new possibilities for free expression. The city paper of Chisinau, for example, published several articles critical of police activities; while the Ministry of Internal Affairs responded with an angry and critical rebuttal, there have been no reprisals by year's end against the newspaper.

Parliament considered a new law on the press which journalists strongly criticized because it would have limited their right to criticize government policies. Although Parliament approved the draft on the first reading, it later adopted a redrafted version of the law taking into account recommendations from the Council of Europe and the CSCE, although the draft retains language forbidding "contesting or defaming the State or the people" (restrictions also contained in the new Constitution). This restriction appears to be aimed at journalists publishing material in favor of reunification with Romania and questioning the legal right of the Republic of Moldova to exist.

The Government does not restrict foreign publications. Western publications do not circulate widely since they are very expensive by local standards. Romanian and Russian publications have also become rather more difficult to obtain due to expense. Moldova receives television and radio broadcasts from Romania and Russia.

In the separatist Transdniester region, the authorities cut off financial support for two newspapers which had occasionally been critical of some policies and formed a new "official" newspaper. In the separatist "capital" Tiraspol, the independent cable television station Asket came under pressure from authorities, taking the form of attacks on the premises and cut cables, because it broadcast reports critical of the separatist authorities.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The law protects the right to peaceful assembly. The mayor's office generally issues permits for demonstrations; it may consult the national Government if the demonstration is likely to be extremely large.

In 1994 the Government refused permission for opposition parties to use the large central square in front of the government buildings for several demonstrations. They issued permits for a nearby park or other central locations instead. Officials threatened to take one opposition leader to court when a demonstration moved closer to the government buildings than was authorized but took no action by year's end. In October opposition parties demonstrated in the central square despite the lack of permission; no action was taken against demonstrators.

Private organizations, including political parties, are required to register, but applications are handled routinely.

c. Freedom of Religion

The practice of religion is generally free. Parliament passed a law on religion in 1992 which codified religious freedoms, although it contained restrictions that could inhibit the activities of some religious groups. The law guarantees freedom of religious practice, including each person's right to profess his religion in any form. It also provides for alternative military service for conscientious objectors, protects the secrets of the confessional, allows denominations to establish associations and foundations, and states that the Government may not interfere in the religious activities of denominations. The law, however, also requires that religious groups register with the Government in order to function and that denominations obtain specific government approval to hire noncitizens. The law also prohibits proselytizing.

Some Protestant denominations are concerned that the prohibition on proselytism could inhibit their activities, although many denominations hold large revival meetings apparently without official interference. To date, the authorities have taken no legal action against individuals for proselytizing, despite a substantial amount of such activity. Although Eastern Orthodoxy is not designated as the official religion of Moldova in the law on religion, it continued to be the strongest religious force and exerted significant influence. The Government still refused to register the "Metropolitanate of Bessarabia--Old Style," which broke away from the Moldovan Orthodox Church, under the authority of the Patriarch of Moscow, to adhere to the Romanian Orthodox Church in 1992. The Government cites unresolved problems connected to the new church's property claims as the principal reason it cannot register the group. Priests who have joined this church have credibly alleged that local authorities have sometimes harassed them and have taken no action to prevent their harassment by priests who remained loyal to the majority church.

Protestant groups have increased their ties with coreligionists abroad; foreign missionaries are also established in Moldova. Eighteen denominations are registered and active in Moldova, including Baha'i, followers of Krishna, and Jehovah's Witnesses--groups that had been denied registration in the past. The Salvation Army, however, has not been able to register as a religious denomination because it does not meet the requirement of having a Moldovan citizen as the organization's legal head. It has also been unable to register as a social organization.

The Jewish community, although small, remained very active in 1994. Jewish leaders report that their relations with the Government and local authorities are cooperative. There were no reports of organized anti-Semitic activities in 1994. In the Transdniester region, Jewish leaders complained about anti-Semitic statements made during official celebrations of the separatist "republic" by an alleged Serbian nun, who gave strongly nationalist speeches.

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

There are no closed areas or restrictions on travel within Moldova. Moldovans generally were able to travel and emigrate freely in 1994. During the first part of the year while old Soviet legislation was still in effect, exit visas were required and routinely issued. The requirement for exit visas was lifted in July. Restrictions on emigration remain in force, however, including the requirement to gain the permission of close relatives in order to emigrate. The Government may also deny permission to emigrate if the applicant had access to state secrets. New legislation, passed in November, retained these emigration restrictions. Such cases, are, however, very rare, and none were reported in 1994.

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government

Moldova held its first multiparty parliamentary elections in February. International monitors from CSCE member countries observing the elections deemed them generally free and fair. Some observers, however, noted several problem areas, including unequal access to the media and the use of state resources by the dominant party.

The elections were based on straight proportional representation, with a 4-percent threshold for entry into Parliament. Four parties or blocs entered Parliament. The Democratic Agrarian Party, the largest bloc in the former Parliament, won 56 of the 104 seats. A coalition of the Socialist Party and a minority rights organization called Edinstvo (Unity) won 28 seats. The other seats are held by two groups--the Peasants and Intellectuals Bloc and the Christian Democratic Popular Front--which emphasize the importance of increased use of the Romanian language in public life, closer economic and cultural ties with Romania, and increased privatization of agricultural land. Some members of these groups advocate reunification with neighboring Romania.

The new Constitution provides for the division of power between the popularly elected President, the Cabinet, Parliament, and the judiciary. The President, as Head of State, in consultation with the Parliament appoints the Cabinet and the Prime Minister, who functions as the Head of Government. Most of the mechanisms for manifesting this division of power, however, remained untried by year's end. Parliamentary elections are scheduled every 4 years, as are presidential elections.

The new Constitution states that citizens are free to form parties and other social-political organizations. A controversial article states, however, that those organizations that "militate against political pluralism, the principles of the rule of law, or of the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova, are unconstitutional." Opposition parties, some of which favor rapid or eventual reunification with neighboring Romania, have charged that this provision is intended to impede their political activities. In September the prosecutor's office suggested to the Ministry of Justice the "suspension" of the activities of several parties until they brought their platforms into line with the Constitution. In particular, the prosecutor stated that the position of the Popular Front in support of reunification was anticonstitutional, as was the alleged support of the Unity party for the federalization of Moldova. The Ministry of Justice rejected this view, and the authorities took no further action in 1994.

The government press has also strongly criticized opposition parties for campaigning in favor of amendments to the new Constitution, particularly provisions identifying the local language as "Moldovan" rather than "Romanian" and those permitting the grant of special status to the separatist regions. These parties continue to collect signatures to force a vote on their proposed amendments. There are a small number of female representatives in Parliament. The Association of Moldovan Women, a social-political organization, competed in the elections but received less than 3 percent of the vote. Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, and Gagauz minorities are represented in Parliament; debate takes place in either the Romanian/Moldovan or Russian language, with translation provided. There are no restrictions in law or practice barring the participation of women or minorities in political life. However, the increasing use of Romanian/Moldovan in official settings may present an obstacle to those members of minorities who do not speak the state language, and women are generally not well represented in leading positions of political parties. Women hold 5 of the 104 parliamentary seats.

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

Several local human rights groups exist in Moldova. The local Helsinki Watch organization maintains contacts with international human rights organizations, as does the Helsinki Citizens Assembly, whose president is the chairman of the parliamentary Human Rights Commission and leader of the minority rights movement Unity. Human rights groups operate without government interference.

The Government welcomed and supported the work of the CSCE, which has a mission in the country to assist with finding a resolution for the separatist conflict. The Transdniester separatist authorities stated that they will cooperate with the CSCE mission. However, after almost a year of negotiations, they continued to refuse to permit CSCE representatives to participate in all meetings of the tripartite commission (Russian, Moldovan, Transdniester) which reviews violations of the cease-fire agreement. They did, however, agree to permit the CSCE to participate in about half the meetings, and they allowed the mission improved access to the "security zone" along the river dividing the separatist-controlled territory from the rest of Moldova.

Moldova has cooperated with the ICRC in the past, permitting visits to prisoners from the 1992 conflict (since released).

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status

Women

The law provides that women shall be equal to men before the law and public authorities. They are generally underrepresented in government and leadership positions, however, and, according to statistics, have been disproportionately affected by growing unemployment.

Women who suffer physical abuse by their husbands have the right to press charges; husbands convicted of such abuse may receive prison sentences (up to 6 months is not uncommon). Public awareness of the problem of violence in families generally is not very high, and no special government programs exist to combat spouse abuse. According to knowledgeable sources, women do not generally appeal to police or the courts for protection against abusive spouses because they are embarrassed to do so. Police generally do not consider spouse abuse a serious crime, although, when cases do reach a court, they appear to be treated seriously. Women and legal authorities do not identify spouse abuse as a common problem.

Children

Moldova has extensive legislation designed to protect children, including extended paid maternity leave and government supplementary payments for families with many children. The health system devotes extensive resources to child care. No special problems with child abuse came to light in 1994.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Moldova has a population of about 4.3 million, of which 65 percent are ethnic Romanian Moldovans. Ukrainians (14 percent) and Russians (13 percent) are the two largest minorities. A Christian Turkic minority, the Gagauz, lives primarily in the southern regions. They are largely Russian-speaking and represent about 3.5 percent of the population.

Moldova's citizenship law, adopted in 1990, offered an equal opportunity to all persons resident in Moldova at the time of independence to adopt Moldovan citizenship. The CSCE's Office of Democratic Initiatives and Human Rights praised the law as being very liberal. The law permits dual citizenship on the basis of a bilateral agreement, but no such agreements were in effect in 1994.

Several steps taken in 1994 led to an improvement in the relations between Romanian/Moldovan and Russian speakers. In March citizens participated in a "public opinion survey" (actually, a referendum) in which they overwhelmingly voted in favor of Moldovan independence. This quieted fears expressed by the Russian-speaking population regarding reunification with Romania, an alternative which is favored by a small minority of Moldovan citizens.

The new Parliament voted to delay the implementation of the language testing foreseen in the language law of 1989 and due to begin in 1994. The principle inherent in the language law is that, in dealing with any official or commercial entity, the citizen should be able to pick the language to use. Officials are therefore obligated to know Russian and Romanian/Moldovan "to the degree necessary to fulfill their professional obligations." Since many Russian-speakers do not speak Romanian/Moldovan (while all educated Moldovans speak both languages), they argued for a delay in the implementation of the law to permit more time to learn the language. Parliament also decided to review the procedures for testing and the categories of individuals to be tested. The new Constitution guarantees the rights of parents to choose the language of instruction for their children.

These changes, combined with increased efforts on the part of the new Parliament and Government to improve interethnic relations, led to an easing of tensions in 1994.

In the separatist region, however, discrimination against Romanian/Moldovan-speakers increased. The regime continued its insistence that all Moldovan schools in the region use the Cyrillic alphabet only. (The Cyrillic script was used in Moldova until 1989, since "Moldovan" during the Soviet era was officially decreed to be a different language than Romanian, which is written in the Latin alphabet. The 1989 language law reinstituted the use of the Latin script.) Many teachers, parents, and students have objected to returning to the Cyrillic script. They believe it disadvantages the children, who are less competitive for higher education opportunities in the rest of Moldova or even Romania. They further object since it is a return to one of the more oppressive and despised policies of the pre-Gorbachev era. There were several student strikes against the policy. Some teachers have reportedly been threatened, and the regime has applied considerable pressure on the schools. In response to actions by parents and teachers, who blocked railroad tracks in Benderi (Tighina) to protest the imposition of the Cyrillic alphabet, the separatist leaders made some concessions on this issue.

People with Disabilities

While there is no legal discrimination against people with disabilities, there are no laws providing for accessibility for them, and there are few government resources devoted to training people with disabilities. The Government does provide tax advantages to charitable groups that assist the disabled.

Section 6 Worker Rights

a. The Right of Association

The 1990 Soviet law on trade unions, which was endorsed by Moldova's then Supreme Soviet and is still in effect, provides for independent trade unions. Moldovan laws passed in 1989 and 1991, which give citizens the right to form all kinds of social organizations, also provide a legal basis for the formation of independent unions. The new Constitution further declares that any employee may found a union or join a union which defends his interests. However, there have been no known attempts to establish alternate trade union structures independent of the successor to the previously existing official organizations which were part of the Soviet trade union system.

The successor organization is the Federation of Independent Trade Unions (FITU). FITU's continuing role in managing the state insurance system and its retention of previously existing official union headquarters and vacation facilities provide an inherent advantage over any newcomers who might wish to form a union outside its structure. However, its industrial or branch unions are becoming more independent entities; they maintain that their membership in FITU is voluntary and that they can withdraw if they wish. Virtually all employed adults are members of a union.

FITU has insisted on the right to have union representatives involved in the negotiations to set wages. It opposed government measures to raise prices before back salaries were paid. In the parliamentary elections in February, several high union officials endorsed the small opposition Social Democratic Party and ran for Parliament on that ticket. Some of the member unions protested this decision, stating that they did not support the Social Democratic Party and did not believe the unions should support any party. These steps indicate that FITU has begun to play a role independent of the Government and the governing party.

Government workers do not have the right to strike, nor do those in essential services such as health care and energy. Other unions may strike if two-thirds of the members vote for a strike in a secret ballot. There were several very small-scale labor actions in 1994 for payment of back wages, including brief strikes by teachers at a police academy and employees of a cement plant. Very high hidden unemployment and rising open unemployment made workers concerned primarily about job security.

Unions may affiliate and maintain contacts with international organizations.

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Moldovan law, which is still based on former Soviet legislation, provides for collective bargaining rights. However, wages are set through a tripartite negotiation process involving government, management, and unions. On the national level, the three parties meet and negotiate national minimum wages for all categories of workers. Then, each of the branch unions representing a particular industry negotiates with management and the government ministries responsible for that industry. They may set wages higher than the minimum set on the national level and often do, especially if the industry in question is more profitable than average. Finally, on the enterprise level, union and management representatives negotiate directly on wages. Again, they may set wages higher than negotiators on the previous level. In 1994 bargaining on the national agreement was not completed until July, since management insisted on delaying negotiations until the new Government was in place after the February elections.

There were no reports of actions taken against union members for union activities. The 1990 Soviet law on trade unions provides that union leaders may not be fired from their jobs while in leadership positions or for a period after they leave those positions. This law has not been tested in Moldova.

There are no export processing zones.

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Article 44 of the new Constitution prohibits forced labor. No instances of forced labor were reported.

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The minimum age for employment under unrestricted conditions is 18 years. Employment of those aged 16 to 18 is permitted under special conditions, including shorter workdays, no night shifts, and longer vacations. The Ministry of Labor and Social Protection is primarily responsible for enforcing these restrictions, and the Ministry of Health also has a role. Child labor is not used in Moldovan industry, though children living on farms do sometimes assist in the agricultural sector.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

The minimum monthly wage of $3.50 (13.5 Moldovan lei) was raised to $4.50 (18 Moldovan lei) in July 1994. The average wage of $20.25 (81 Moldovan lei) does not provide a decent standard of living for a worker and family. The new Constitution sets the maximum workweek at 40 hours, and the Labor Code provides for at least 1 day off per week. Due to severe budgetary constraints, the Government and enterprises often did not meet the payroll for employees in 1994.

The State is required to set and check safety standards in the workplace. The unions within FITU also have inspection personnel who have a right to stop work in the factory or fine the enterprise if safety standards are not met. Further, workers have the right to refuse to work but may continue to draw their salaries if working conditions represent a serious threat to their health. In practice, however, the declining economic situation has led enterprises to economize on safety equipment and generally to show less concern for worker safety issues. Workers often do not know their rights in this area.

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