Covering events from January-December 2001

Republic of Moldova
Head of state: Vladimir Voronin (replaced Petru Lucinschi in April)
Head of government: Vasile Tarlev (replaced Dumitru Braghis in April)
Capital: Chisinau
Population: 4.3 million
Official language: Moldovan (Romanian)
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes

Arbitrary detention and ill-treatment by police continued to be reported. Conditions of detention in many police lock-ups and prisons amounted to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. At least three political prisoners remained imprisoned in the self-proclaimed Dnestr Moldavian Republic (DMR).


Moldova remained the poorest country in Europe with close to 80 per cent of its population living below the poverty line.

Elections in February were won by the Party of Moldovan Communists and Vladimir Voronin, the party leader, was inaugurated as President in April. In June, Ombudsman Alexei Potinga stated in his annual report that violations of human rights were widespread. In July, trafficking in people was made a criminal offence. Between 600,000 and one million Moldovans, 70 per cent of whom were women, had reportedly left the country since independence in 1991. An alarming number of women and minors have been trafficked for sexual exploitation. Russian military withdrawal from the DMR, agreed at the 1999 Istanbul Summit of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), was completed in November 2001. However, no progress was reported in the negotiations between the Moldovan government and the DMR authorities on the status of the breakaway region.

Torture and ill-treatment

There were reports that many criminal suspects were ill-treated, and in some cases tortured, in police lock-ups in order to extract confessions. Detainees, including minors, were frequently denied access to a lawyer and prevented from informing their families of their whereabouts. It was also reported that medical treatment was withheld from people injured as a result of ill-treatment. Relatively few complaints were lodged by the victims, who feared reprisals or that their grievances would not be addressed effectively. Some victims who did lodge complaints were harassed by police officers.

  • In April 2001, 19-year-old Andrei Dascal was apprehended by several police officers, one of whom accused him of stealing his wife's necklace. Andrei Dascal was taken to a brewery where police officers and security guards reportedly beat him all over his body. He was then put in the boot of a car and taken to Ciocana police station. At the first court hearing, he was observed walking with the aid of crutches. His statement about the beating by the police was apparently not taken into consideration by the court.
  • Aurel Paduret had lodged a complaint about police ill-treatment after he was severely beaten by trainee police officers in Chisinau in March 2000. Two officers were charged in connection with his complaint. In September 2001, after one of the hearings in the trial of the officers, Aurel Paduret was arrested by colleagues of the accused and held in detention for 72 hours. He was interrogated for some five hours during which time a lawyer working for the Moldovan Helsinki Committee, a local human rights organization, who was with Aurel Paduret at the time of the arrest, was not allowed to assist him because police claimed that they were questioning him "as a witness" and so were not obliged to allow a legal representative to be present. Aurel Paduret was eventually released following a court order.
Conditions in detention

The authorities failed to improve conditions of detention. There was particular concern about the conditions in which people were held while awaiting trial and sentencing, often for prolonged periods. Overcrowding and poor sanitary conditions in police lock-ups and pre-trial detention facilities often amounted to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
  • As of November, 106 minors were held pending trial in Chisinau Prison Number 3. Each of the cells held more people than there were beds available. The young people were not provided with any educational or recreational program and were only allowed access to a 25m2 concrete yard for one hour a day. At least six of the detainees, one of whom was suffering from tuberculosis, had been held in these conditions for over 16 months. Many of them were poorly clothed and barefoot. In only a few exceptional cases were they allowed a family visit before sentencing.
  • In the women's section of Chisinau Prison Number 3, the authorities reportedly claimed that a cell measuring 2.5m x 1.5m designed for solitary confinement was no longer in use. However, in October, a visiting human rights monitor reported that she saw a woman who had been detained in the cell for 10 days, the maximum allowed by prison regulations. The cell, which adjoined the shower room, was extremely humid.
Political prisoners in the DMR

Ilie Ilascu, who had been convicted of murder in 1993 by a court in the DMR in the trial of the so-called "Tiraspol Six", was released in May. The six men had been convicted of "terrorist acts", including the murder of two DMR officials in 1993. Alexandru Lesco, Andrei Ivantoc and Tudor Petrov-Popa remained in prison. In July the European Court of Human Rights ruled that their application against their conviction was admissible. The men had said that they were not convicted by a competent court, that the proceedings leading to their conviction were not fair and that their prison conditions were in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

This 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.