Judicial Integrity in Moldova
Through collaboration with local organizations, Freedom House engages civil society and the justice sector and creates avenues for civil society and the public to galvanize government reforms.
Moldova Justice Sector Accountability
Since October 2022, Freedom House has been implementing the 27-month Moldova Justice Sector Accountability program, that seeks to help civil society to serve as an effective advocate for inclusive, accountable, and transparent justice reform process. Project activities include:
- Exposing and mitigating selective justice by carrying out comprehensive monitoring, raising awareness, and identifying policy solutions
- Monitoring the work of the Pre-Vetting Commission to ensure the procedural integrity of the vetting process
- Partnering with civic initiatives to inform the citizenry of justice reform developments and empower them to mobilize in defense of democratic norms in the justice sector
- Establishing inter-institutional dialogue platforms at the regional level to facilitate forums for discussion between civil society and justice sector actors
- Supporting comprehensive media coverage of human rights and justice reform issues to mobilize citizen support and action for inclusive and accountable governance
- Providing rapid response legal analysis and policy statements to organize civil society pressure for justice sector reform at the national level and react publicly to unfolding developments
Mobilizing Civil Society to Support Judicial Integrity in Moldova
Between November 2016 and September 2021, Freedom House implemented the multi-year Mobilizing Civil Society to Support Judicial Integrity in the Republic of Moldova project, which was funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). This project aimed to support justice sector reform in Moldova by creating an environment in which the public was better informed about ongoing developments in the country’s justice sector and how they impacted citizens’ daily lives. Through collaboration with local organizations, Freedom House engaged civil society in promoting justice sector reform, educated the public about past reforms and future opportunities, and created avenues for civil society and the public to galvanize government actors to discuss important issues in the judicial system.
Program Initiatives in Moldova
Small Grants for Citizen Mobilization
Freedom House is seeking to support initiatives that foster dialogue among justice sector stakeholders, promote access to justice, and strengthen civic oversight in Moldova. Justice sector reform is a society-wide effort, and civil society plays a critical role as an effective advocate and partner for inclusive and accountable justice. Freedom House will provide grants of up to $10,000 to three civic initiates aimed at building public pressure for justice sector accountability and transparency. The selection committee will give preference to initiatives that support the interests of marginalized or vulnerable communities and/or demonstrate coordination with other civil society actors.
Report on Monitoring the Selectivity of Criminal Justice
In November 2019, Freedom House released the first Report on Monitoring the Selectivity of Criminal Justice produced under INL-sponsored Mobilizing Civil Society to Support Judicial Integrity in the Republic of Moldova project in collaboration with Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) and authored by Mariana Ratu and Cristina Tarna. The report covers a monitoring period between February and July 2019 and examines developments part of 14 high-profile criminal cases in Moldova. The report finds indications that high-profile individuals facing criminal prosecution sought to trade public support for political parties in exchange for protection from serious legal consequences. It also documents that law enforcement bodies used unofficial methods of public communication to drive media coverage on pro-government platforms about members of the opposition facing prosecution and that courts and law enforcement bodies used varying procedural approaches in high-profile cases when subjects were affiliated with ruling parties.
On September 24, 2021, Freedom House released the second Report on Monitoring the Selectivity of Criminal Justice. The report was produced together with Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) and authored by Mariana Ratu and Cristina Tarna. It is based on the twelve months of monitoring of developments in 43 cases high-profile and consequential selective justice cases in Moldova between July 2020 and June 2021. The report finds that the criminal prosecution authority avoided investigating cases of evident political corruption involving representatives of the ruling party and that the Prosecutor General’s Office and courts were subjected to external influence from interest groups.
It also offers recommendations to political parties, law enforcement bodies, and representatives of the judiciary on how to reduce the practice of selective justice and increase the transparency of Moldova’s justice sector. The report was produced under the INL-sponsored Mobilizing Civil Society to Support Judicial Integrity in the Republic of Moldova project.
- Presentation of the second round of monitoring covering July 2020 – July 2021 (English audio)
- Presentation of the second round of monitoring covering July 2020 – July 2021 (Romanian audio)
- Final report of the second round of monitoring covering July 2020 - July 2021 (English)
- Final report of the second round of monitoring covering July 2020 - July 2021 (Romanian)
UNCAC Shadow Report: Measures for Corruption Prevention and Asset Recovery in the Republic of Moldova
Beginning in 2016, Moldova was under evaluation by the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), a process led by the Russian Federation and Palestine. In 2017, Moldova’s National Anticorruption Center submitted its report for the two-country review panel. Moldovan civil society also had the opportunity to submit a shadow report on the key issues facing Moldova in its fight against corruption, including in the justice sector.
In 2018, Freedom House, in collaboration with subject matter experts from its partner organization the Center for Analysis and Prevention of Corruption (CAPC), produced a shadow report providing an alternative analysis of Moldova’s performance on Chapters II (prevention measures) and IV (asset recovery) of UNCAC, which are the subject of the ongoing second review cycle. The report, titled Measures for Corruption Prevention and Asset Recovery in the Republic of Moldova provides a detailed assessment of the regulation, adoption and enforcement of UNCAC norms that builds on the conclusions and analysis of prior reports. The report was produced under the INL-sponsored Mobilizing Civil Society to Support Judicial Integrity in the Republic of Moldova project.
Justice Sector Integrity Report
In May 2018, Freedom House, in collaboration with subject matter experts from the civil society organizations Center for Investigative Journalism (CIJM) and Center for Analysis and Prevention of Corruption (CAPC), produced a shadow report on the state of justice sector reform implementation in Moldova. The report, titled Judicial Integrity: Achievements, Challenges, Prospects, is the product of discussions, consultations, and research regarding the Justice Sector Reform Strategy, an initiative that spanned from 2011 to 2016.
The report identifies implementation gaps in justice sector reform due to a lack of trust and transparent engagement between the justice sector and the media; an overreliance on frequent legislative or procedural modifications, which contribute to operational complexity; and a lack of political will in implementing initiatives. The assessment includes recommendations designed to enhance future judiciary reform efforts in Moldova, such as those outlined in the Justice Sector Development Strategy (2018-2021). The report was produced under the INL-sponsored Mobilizing Civil Society to Support Judicial Integrity in the Republic of Moldova project.
Empowering the Next Generation of Legal Professionals
Freedom House partner INVENTO holds regular roundtables and other events designed to serve as informal spaces for the community of young lawyers in Moldova to communicate, build relationships and learn about new opportunities for mutual cooperation. Through the “Justice Marathon” mini-grants program, INVENTO also supports local initiatives that take innovative approaches to solving justice sector issues. With INVENTO’s support, one mini-grant awardee formally registered as an NGO – the Public Association “Action for Justice” – that formalizes an existing group of over 50 young law specialists in Moldova.
Justice First Policy Briefs
Talking Justice: Communication In Moldova’s Justice Sector
by Valeria Ciolac
Ciolac's brief investigates the social changes that need to occur to effectively fight corruption in Moldova's judiciary.
Developing Holistic Legal Education at Moldovan Universities
By Thomas Barrett
Barrett's brief provides an overview of the state of the Moldovan legal education system in 2021, highlighting the benefits of reform for the development of future lawyers. This brief was supported under the INL-sponsored Mobilizing Civil Society to Support Judicial Integrity in the Republic of Moldova project.
Selective Justice and the Role of the National Integrity Authority
By Daniel Goinic
Goinic's brief analyzes the impact of selective justice on Moldova's asset and integrity verification system, focusing on the role of the National Integrity Authority (NIA). This brief was supported under the INL-sponsored Mobilizing Civil Society to Support Judicial Integrity in the Republic of Moldova project.
The Rule of Law in Moldova's Age of COVID-19
By Radu Mîrza
Mîrza's brief examines threats to the rule of law in Moldova that have resulted from the misuse of emergency powers during the pandemic, highlighting vulnerabilities created by the failures of Moldova's outdated state infrastructure. This brief was supported under the INL-sponsored Mobilizing Civil Society to Support Judicial Integrity in the Republic of Moldova project.
"Justice First" Policy Briefs - Second Edition Competition
The competition for the third round of “Justice First” policy brief authors is now closed.
Event: Interinstitutional Dialogue
Between 2017 and 2020, Freedom House partner Center for Investigative Journalism (CIJM) facilitated regular press clubs that convene government officials from the justice sector, independent journalists, and civil society in order to foster meaningful engagement between these stakeholders. Participants discussed various challenges associated with the justice sector in Moldova, including that of building trust and transparency between stakeholders. Recordings of sessions (in Romanian) are accessible via the below links. These events were supported under the INL-sponsored Mobilizing Civil Society to Support Judicial Integrity in the Republic of Moldova project.
- “Democracy and press freedom in Moldova, in regional and international context: discussion with Freedom House experts.” (May 2019)
- “Cases against lawyers. What is the role of prosecutors?” (June 2019)
- “Former anticorruption prosecutor Viorel Morari to speak for the first time about the reasons for his resignation.” (June 2019)
Event: Journalistic Investigations on Justice Sector Reform
Freedom House partner Center for Investigative Journalism (CIJM) educates and mentors journalists to improve their capacity to report and analyze challenges facing the justice sector. Through a training and mentorship program and support for investigative reporting, CIJM's network of journalists has shed light on some key issues, including the connections between kinship, friendship, and nepotism in the justice sector; judges' low salaries and their major debt to the judicial system due to issues in the system; and legal abuse facing people with psycho-social disabilities. Two recently published journalistic investigations (in Romanian) are available below.
- Who Are the Magistrates ‘Removed From Exercising Administrative Functions?' by Mariana Colun | June 27, 2019
- How Do Anti-Corruption Prosecutors Live? ‘Modestly’ and From Donations by Julieta Savitchiv | June 7, 2019
- Magistrates with a Bad Reputation Awarded Diplomas and Honorary Titles by Mariana Colun with support from Cornelia Cozonac | March 21, 2018
- How Justice is (Not) Served for People with Psychosocial Disabilities by Mariana Colun and Natalia Porubin | January 24, 2018
CIJM's team of journalists also managed an interactive “Judicial Corruption Map” where citizens may report on instances of corruption throughout Moldova. CIJM's team investigated these complaints and produced in-depth articles on their findings. This activity was supported under the INL-sponsored Mobilizing Civil Society to Support Judicial Integrity in the Republic of Moldova project.
Under the INL-sponsored project, Freedom House partner Ziarul de Garda (ZDG) also raised the profile of the issue of selective justice by producing and distributing print and online multimedia products throughout Moldova’s regions. Ziarul de Garda’s publications were distributed in both Romanian and Russian languages, serving as a vital source of information on justice sector issues for Moldova’s Russian-speaking population. Articles published by ZDG include:
- Administrators of Three Companies Involved in the Billion Dollar Bank Fraud Scandal Sentenced to Just 6 Years in Prison by Cristina Dulea | July 25, 2021
- When Felonies Turn into Misdemeanors. Case Study: Prosecutor on Trial for Abuse of Power in the Workplace by Victor Mosneag | January 29, 2021
- POLITICAL (IN)JUSTICE: How Have 38 Political Cases Examined by the General Prosecutor’s Office Developed?| October 26, 2020
Under the Moldova Justice Sector Accountability project, ZDG is conducting an investigative media campaign of monitoring and reporting on government violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. By uncovering and highlighting official abuses, ZDG is raising citizen awareness of justice reform issues including selective justice and building pressure for government accountability. Materials produced by ZDG include:
- A Grandmother’s Battle with the Medical and Legal Systems to Learn the Truth about her Granddaughter’s Death in a Hospital by Mariuta Nistor | June 30, 2023
- Criminal Charges Dropped by Chisinau Court of Appeals for Three Magistrates Investigated for Illicit Enrichment by Milena Onisim | March 27, 2023
Freedom House is also supporting independent media outlet Oameni și Kilometri (OSK) under the Moldova Justice Sector Accountability project to use a human-rights approach to cover divisive topics and mitigate social polarizations. Using the longread form of storytelling and narrative journalism, OSK is raising the voices of marginalized communities and covering problems related to the implementation of social policies that affect the most vulnerable societal groups. OSK’s longread articles include:
- Andrei Never Returned to Transnistria by Polina Cupcea | May 10, 2023
- Prisoner of a Bedridden Stateby Polina Cupcea | February 28, 2023