Head of state: Mihai Ghimpu (acting)
Head of government: Vladimir Filat
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes
Population: 3.6 million
Life expectancy: 68.9 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 26/21 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 98.3 per cent

Torture and other ill-treatment in police detention remained widespread; the state failed to carry out prompt and impartial investigations and police officers sometimes evaded penalties. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists were again denied the right to demonstrate. Fair trial standards were not upheld in the self-proclaimed territory of Transdniestria.

Torture and other ill-treatment

In March the UN Committee against Torture published its concluding observations on Moldova's second periodic report. The Committee expressed concern at the "numerous and consistent allegations of widespread use of torture and other forms of ill-treatment in police custody" and called on the authorities to publicly and unambiguously condemn torture. It also expressed concern that pre-trial temporary isolation facilities continued to fall under police jurisdiction despite the fact that plans to build new detention centres and transfer management to the Ministry of Justice were part of the Moldova National Human Rights Action Plan in 2005. Ensuring the separation of the authorities responsible for interrogation and those in charge of detention is an important safeguard against torture and other ill-treatment in detention.


In November the Prosecutor General's office announced that the system of specialized prosecutors for the investigation of torture allegations, which had been in operation since 2007 in Balti, Cahul and the capital, Chisinau, would be extended to the whole country. However, there were continuing problems of impunity for torture and other ill-treatment. The state failed to carry out prompt, thorough and independent investigations into torture allegations. Witnesses were put at risk by the failure to suspend from active duty police officers who were under investigation for torture or other ill-treatment for the duration of the official investigation. In some cases police officers had evaded sanctions altogether.

  • By the end of the year two police officers who had been sentenced to six years' imprisonment in November 2007 for torturing Viorica Plate were still at liberty, living openly in Moldova and had yet to serve their sentences. In February 2008, Viorica Plate informed Amnesty International that she and her lawyer had been harassed by the police officers who had tortured her in May 2007. In March 2008, Amnesty International was informed by the Prosecutor General's office that the police officers could not be placed in custody because they had appealed their convictions. In September 2008 the Supreme Court had turned down their appeal.

At the end of the year trials were continuing against police officers accused of torture and other ill-treatment as a result of the large number of detentions during and after the violent demonstrations against the April 2009 parliamentary election results. Lawyers and NGOs reported delays and withholding of evidence by the authorities. In August, members of the National Commission, set up in October 2009 to investigate and report on the events, stated that the Ministry of Internal Affairs had withheld video evidence taken by their street operatives during the demonstrations. This came to light when the Prosecutor General's office showed a video which they stated had been filmed by Ministry of Internal Affairs operatives and which had not previously been made available to the National Commission.

  • In May, an investigation into the beating of Damian Hîncu by police officers during the April 2009 protests was suspended, on the grounds that he could not identify the policemen because they had forced him to lie with his face on the ground at the time. Shortly after the case was suspended, CCTV footage came to light showing Damian Hîncu being beaten by somebody who very closely resembled the Chisinau Chief of Police. A new case was begun against the Chief of Police, who later resigned.

Freedom of expression – Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights

On 28 April, the Chisinau Court of Appeal ruled that a pro-equality march planned by LGBT rights activists for 2 May in the city centre should be relocated to an unfrequented area in the city, due to "security and public morality concerns". The organization, Information Centre GenderDoc-M, applied to Chisinau City Hall in March to hold a demonstration in the Grand National Assembly Square in the city centre, anticipating approximately 50 participants. The organization did not receive a response to its application, but Chisinau City Hall sent a request to the Chisinau Court of Appeal to have the march banned from the city centre. The activists refused to hold the march in the authorized location in protest against the decision. Chisinau city authorities applied for the march to be banned in response to numerous petitions from a range of religious and other anti-LGBT rights groups. The counter-demonstration organized by those groups was allowed to take place in the city centre on the same day.

International justice

On 12 October, Moldova ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, with effect from 1 January 2011.

Unfair trials

Transdniestrian Republic

  • Ernest Vardanean, a journalist working in Transdniestria, was detained outside his home in Tiraspol in the self-proclaimed Transdniestrian Republic on 7 April on charges of "treason in the form of espionage". The offence carries a sentence of between 12 and 20 years' imprisonment. On 11 May, before the trial began, a video was broadcast by Transdniestria's main television station, which showed Transdniestria's de facto Minister of State Security stating that Ernest Vardanean was guilty of the offence he had been charged with. Ernest Vardanean also appeared in the video apparently corroborating the claims of the Minister and expressing his regret over the "terrible error." The video subsequently became available on the internet. Ernest Vardanean had almost no contact with the outside world during the 42 days between his initial detention and the broadcasting of the video. He was reportedly in pre-trial detention in the National Security Service headquarters in Tiraspol at the end of the year.

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