U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Moldova
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||30 January 1998|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Moldova, 30 January 1998, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa87c.html [accessed 25 April 2015]|
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, January 30, 1998.
MOLDOVAMoldova gained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. In 1994 it adopted a Constitution that provides for a multiparty representative government with power divided among a president, cabinet, parliament, and judiciary. On January 15, former parliamentary speaker Petru Lucinschi was inaugurated as President for a 4-year term. International observers considered the presidential elections, held in the fall of 1996, to be free and fair. President Lucinschi ran as an independent and in late January appointed a new government under the leadership of Prime Minister Ion Ciubuc. Although Ciubuc had not served as a minister in the previous government, a number of ministers were retained. During the second half of the year, political parties started to prepare for the parliamentary elections to be held in the spring of 1998. Although increasing in independence, the judiciary is still subject to the influence of the prosecutor's office. Moldova remains divided, with mostly Slavic separatists controlling the Transnistrian region along the Ukranian border. This separatist regime has entered negotiations with the national government on the possibility of a special status for the region. Despite the signing of a memorandum on the bases for normalizing relations in May, progress has been blocked by the separatists' continuing demands for statehood and recognition of Moldova as a confederation of two equal states. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Russian Federation, and Ukraine act as mediators. The two sides have generally observed the cease-fire of July 1992, which ended armed conflict between them, but other agreements to normalize relations have often not been honored. A Christian Turkic minority, the Gagauz, enjoys local autonomy in the southern part of the country. The Moldovan Ministry of Internal Affairs has responsibility for the police. The Ministry of National Security controls other security organs, including the border guards. The Constitution assigns to Parliament the authority to investigate the activities of these ministries to ensure that they comply with legislation in effect. A protective service, which guarded the President, the Prime Minister, and the Speaker of Parliament, was abolished shortly after President Lucinschi took office a Desk deletion and insertion because of allegations of politicization under former President Snegur. While Moldova has recently made considerable progress in financial stabilization and economic reform, real growth in the economy continues to be slow. Hence, for many, prosperity remains elusive. In Transnistria the economic situation is even worse. The Government has not implemented any significant economic reforms, and there is substantial evidence of widespread corruption. Moldova,whose economy is largely based on agriculture, continued to make progress in economic reform. A law governing the sale and purchase of land went into effect in September. Citizens and foreign investors can buy land, which is bought and sold at market prices. However, foreigners cannot buy agricultural land, nor can agricultural land be resold for a period of 5 years. A government-backed foreign-financed program is now facilitating the breakup of agricultural joint stock associations and the issuance of land titles to their former members. The Government has privatized 72 former collective farms and plans to extend this program to an additional 500 farms in 1998. The gross domestic product is officially estimated at about $440 per capita. According to government statistics, about 80 percent of the population lives below the poverty level, and 10 percent of the rural population has a per capita income of less than one-quarter of that level. A majority of citizens cannot afford to buy fish, meat, milk, and other dairy products on a regular basis. The average monthly inflation rate was under 1percent. Moldova's external borrowings totaled over $600 million. The economic situation is worse in Transnistria. The Government generally respects the human rights of its citizens, however, there were problems in some areas. The police occasionally beat detainees and prisoners. Prison conditions remain harsh, with attempts to improve them hampered by lack of funding. The judiciary remains subject to the influence of the prosecutor's office. The Constitution potentially limits the activities of political parties, religious groups and the press. Societal discrimination against women persists. Addressing a minority concern, the Constitution allows parents the right to choose the language of education for their children. The Transnistrian authorities continue to be responsible for abuses, including questionable detentions, restrictions on freedom of religion pressure on the media, and discrimination against Romanian/ Moldovan speakers.