Human Rights Report on Moldova: Protection of Minorities’ Rights

The rights of the minorities are human rights. They function to ensure that the minorities can enjoy human rights on the same basis as other people. These rights are part of human rights standards which protect the minorities, including Article No. 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities. The minorities’ rights facilitate the equal engagement of minorities in public life and in the decision making process. These elements – the protection of existence, non-discrimination, protection of identity and participation – constitute the foundation of the minorities’ rights .      

While the UN Declaration is devoted to national, ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, it is important to ensure multiple non-discrimination and to remedy the situations in which a person belonging to a national, ethnic, religious or linguistic minority is also discriminated on other criteria such as gender identity, disability , health status   or sexual orientation.    

Considering the Republic of Moldova’s commitments in ensuring the application without any discrimination of the human rights and the conclusive observations and recommendations addressed to the Republic of Moldova by extra-conventional mechanisms of monitoring the application of human rights, the ombudsmen have proposed to initiate a complex evaluation of the principle of equality of opportunity and non-discrimination related to minorities for the year 2011. 

The evaluation included the documentation, the identification of legal and institutional deficiencies, the setting up of possibilities for the remedy of the situation and, as finality, to organize awareness raising campaigns on the prevention and combating of discrimination, in order to increase the awareness degree to the given phenomenon and to strengthen the role of public institutions responsible for combating it. 

While analysing the received information, some positive tendencies have been noted, yet, there exist a number of drawbacks in the LPA activity caused, in the main part, by the erroneous perception of the principle of equality and non-discrimination, as well as, the lack of a mechanism for the documentation, storage and processing of the data on the application of the equality and non-discrimination principle related to minorities. This fact determines the unsatisfactory involvement of LPA in the monitoring and analysis of the existent situation on the site, the provision of observing the Constitution and of the legislation in force related to minorities and the protection of citizens’ rights. 

Thus, it is stated that the majority of LPA representatives do not possess actual and complete data on the ethnic composition of the population on the territory they administer . Also, there are no data on the documentation of the cases of admitting discrimination related to minorities, including information on the situations when women that belong to minorities were exposed to certain risks. These concerns are expressed in the information submitted by the District Council from Edinet, the District Council from Anenii-Noi and the District Council from Briceni. Moreover, out of the 32 territorial-administrative units, only the District Council from Donduseni registered a case of a Roma woman being insulted. According to the submitted information, „the citizen received necessary consultation on behalf of the district executive authority, following to address the competent institution”. 

The interpretation  of the notions “non-discrimination”, “social inclusion”, “provision of equal opportunities in accessing goods and services” is done through the prism of the cultural and spiritual dimensions, thus it is being attested the tendency to mimic the application of civil, political, economic and social rights with the cultural ones, especially in the organization of cultural and artistic events.   

What concerns problematic issues, the lack of ‘linguistic centres’ and of programs for the free of charge study at regional level  of the state language by the adult speakers of other languages  can be mentioned.  The Centre for Human Rights has also been informed about the insufficiency of textbooks and fiction literature in schools with instruction in the Russian language, the lack of a textbook on the history, traditions and culture of the Gagauz people, the lack of representation / or limited representation  of the minorities in public administration bodies and civil service .  Cases of discriminatory behaviour on behalf of some civil servants  have been signalled in relation to Roma people , and cases of refusal to hire Roma ethnicity people

In this context, the issue to limited access of the population to public interest information in the territory should also be mentioned. For instance, in the majority of communities of ATU Gagauzia, only local cable TV channels can be received (such as „Bashku” from Comrat), which are politically influenced, thus the people are deprived of alternative information.   

In 2011, the Centre for Human Rights recorded 4 cases in which the petitioners alleged to have been victims of discrimination on the basis of the criterion „ethnic origin”. Simultaneously, the ombudsmen, who were carrying out their duties stipulated in the Law on Ombudsmen No. 1349 of October 17, 1997 , got self-informed on 5 cases of discrimination and intolerance.  

The registered cases  are related to the discriminatory attitude and denial of medical care at Ungheni district hospital, the refusal to serve and discriminatory behaviour exhibited by the administration of the canteen of the Drochia district hospital; acceptance of ethnic segregation in schools towards Roma children, reason for which the latter refuse to attend educational institutions; the absence of a medical centre in the village Schinoasa that might offer the population access to health care, secure and qualitative essential medical services. 

As consequence of ombudsman’s intervention, the local authorities have undertaken necessary steps to reinstate the given people into their rights. Yet, in the majority of cases, the representatives of the local administration do not display promptness and receptiveness in addressing this kind of situations. 

On the other hand, the positive developments, registered by the national judiciary practice in 2011, should be noted. They address the non-discrimination principle through the prism of international standards that aim at human rights protection, especially of the minorities. Here, it is worth mentioning the fact that the common law court confirmed the existence of discrimination by admitting that the declaration made by a public official was discriminatory and racist against Roma persons , and the admittance by the accused (administrators of the site responsible for the speech full of hatred against sexual minorities. It is not accidental that in both cases, the accused have been obliged to apologize publicly to the plaintiffs and to pay moral damage.  

In this context, in 2011, the ombudsmen urged, on different occasions, senior dignitaries and officials, representatives of Orthodox religious groups and representatives of political parties to promote tolerance and respect for human rights in society and to refrain from discrimination acts. Moreover, the ombudsmen strongly condemn such acts, including the ones committed by public officials. The ombudsmen require that politicians and „opinion leaders” demonstrate balanced and responsible behaviour, and prevent racist, xenophobic and discriminatory manifestations against community members. However, the right to expression is not an absolute right and it should be applied in certain conditions established for the protection of the individual’s dignity.

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