Moldova (Tier 2)
Moldova is primarily a source country for persons, particularly women and girls, trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation to the Middle East and European countries west and south of Moldova. It is also to a lesser extent a transit country to European destinations for victims trafficked from former Soviet states. Moldovan victims continued to be increasingly trafficked to Turkey, the Middle East (including the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) and Israel), and Russia (particularly minors). New information indicates that Moldovan men are trafficked to Baltic and other former Soviet states for the purpose of agricultural and construction labor exploitation. IOM reported an increased number of families trafficked to Poland for forced begging. The small breakaway region of Transnistria in eastern Moldova is outside the central government's control and remained a significant source and transit area for trafficking in persons.
The Government of Moldova does not fully comply with minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. In 2004, the government more than doubled the number of trafficking convictions handed down with prison sentences. While Moldova's National Committee to Combat Trafficking in Persons continued to meet regularly and frequently, the government spent very little of its own funds to combat trafficking. The trafficking problem severely affects the Moldovan population. The government should lead Moldova's fight against trafficking rather than continuing to rely heavily on initiatives from NGOs and international organizations.
While Moldova made progress in its law enforcement efforts during the reporting period, it is widely suspected that the Anti-Trafficking Unit limited the number of cases it investigated due in some instances to pressure from complicit officials at higher levels in the government. Moldovan legislation prohibits all types of trafficking and provides for severe penalties ranging from seven years to life imprisonment. The Ministry of Interior's Anti-Trafficking Unit opened 274 trafficking investigations, up from 189 investigations in 2003. The courts convicted 16 individuals for trafficking in persons and seven for trafficking in children, of which 13 received prison sentences (compared to six in 2003) ranging from two to 16 years. Police and prosecutors received anti-trafficking investigations training in September 2004. Moldovan law enforcement officials participated in the regional operation "Mirage 2004" that led authorities to open nine trafficking cases in Moldova. Despite continued allegations of trafficking-related corruption among some law enforcement officials, the government took no action against these officials. Authorities investigated a former Moldovan policeman for trafficking women to the U.A.E.; he is currently free on bail pending his trial. Corrupt judges often downgraded trafficking charges to pimping for lesser penalties.
The Moldovan Government's efforts to assist and protect trafficking victims remained inadequate. The government provided practically no funding to NGOs for victim assistance, though it continued to provide space in state buildings for a rehabilitation center run by IOM and another anti-trafficking organization's branch offices. Moldova has not implemented its witness protection law adopted in 1998, though in certain cases police posted guards outside witnesses' homes during the reporting period. Still, a majority of victims did not feel secure enough to take action against their traffickers. The government did not prosecute trafficking victims in 2004 for crimes committed in the course of being trafficked. No official victim referral system existed; however, the Anti-Trafficking Unit signed cooperative agreements with two lead anti-trafficking organizations under which it referred several hundred victims for assistance during the reporting period.
The government continued its work to prevent trafficking, though NGOs and international organizations conducted most of the anti-trafficking campaigns. While the National Committee on Trafficking in Persons met twice a month on a regular basis, it produced limited results due to the lack of a full-time secretariat and a clear mandate. In December 2004, the National Committee asked NGOs and international organizations to evaluate its work and suggest ways to improve government efforts to combat trafficking. It then released an assessment of anti-trafficking work by all entities for the 2003 to 2004 period. In January 2005, the government established a working group with NGO participation to draft a new National Action Plan that will replace the outdated 2001 Action Plan. Additionally, the government drafted and sent to parliament in February 2005 new legislation to comprehensively address all aspects for trafficking. All local committees, underneath the National Committee, conducted trafficking awareness-raising meetings in schools with students and teachers. The Ministry of Internal Affairs withdrew the licenses of several tourism and employment agencies in 2004 for their suspected involvement in trafficking.