Human Rights Report on Moldova: Preventing and combating domestic violence

On 01.03.2007, the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova adopted the Law on Preventing and Combating Domestic Violence, no. 45-XVI, which was published on 18.03.2008  and followed to enter into force six months later. The Law establishes the legal and organizational framework for preventing and combating domestic violence, the authorities and institutions responsible for preventing and combating domestic violence, the mechanism for identifying and solving cases of violence.

According to the provisions of the Law named above, an important role in preventing and combating domestic violence is assigned to divisions/departments of social assistance and family protection and to internal law enforcement authorities as a specialized unit. In the process of examining several cases, the Ombudsman found that the actions of these two authorities fell to an insufficient extent into the provisions stipulated by the Law. The identified problems reside in the lack of intervention actions to fully protect the victims against domestic violence, which affects mostly children, even if they are not direct victims of violence.

According to data provided by courts,  in 2011 there was observed a significant increase of cases submitted to court, compared with previous years, as well as of issued ordinances in the favour of the victims. Although in 2008, the Law on Preventing and Combating Domestic Violence came into force, officially no cases were registered in court and subsequently there were no requests to issue protective ordinances.

Amendments in the compartment "offenses against family and underage children", regarding domestic violence were introduced  in the Criminal Code of the Republic of Moldova only in 2010,   previously, offenses that are currently within the provisions of article  2011, were classified as crimes causing injuries to corporal integrity. However, for the period of 11 months of 2011, a significant development was registered, as can be observed in the table. 

There is a significant increase in cases submitted to court. The most obvious increase in 2010 was recorded by the prosecution bodies, which investigated 30 cases out of a total of 51 cases submitted to court. In 2011, a total of 246 cases were filed, out of which 74 cases were investigated by the prosecution bodies.

However, the number of cases investigated by the police stations rose from 4 cases in 2010, to 143 cases investigated and submitted to court in 2011. The Divisions / Directorates for Social Assistance and Family Protection recorded a very low intervention in representing the interests of domestic violence victims in court. Undoubtedly, the new legal framework for preventing and combating domestic violence, offered a new blast of the perception of this phenomenon by the society. If previously domestic violence was perceived as a socially accepted norm, as a natural thing, the new framework imposes to approach it in terms of crime against the person's physical and mental integrity. This may explain the substantial increase of cases that were recorded in 2011 compared to 2009 and 2010.

In this context, we should note that positive developments deserve to be appreciated, however the representatives of the prosecution bodies, who reacted to the ombudsman’s appeal and shared opinions on the difficulties they face in law enforcement, drew attention to some gaps that need to be removed, in order to ensure complete operation of the legal mechanisms.
Here, we mean the lack in the village, or at least in the district, of rehabilitation centres for the victims and the impossibility of offering them a dwelling place for the period of case processing. According to specialists, the victims often tolerate violence only because they lack a shelter, where they could escape.

At the same time, attention is drawn to the opportunity to put the abuser in rehabilitation centres, not the victims. This hypothesis was made for several reasons. One of these refers to the need to force the abuser to attend treatment as required by circumstances.  The rehabilitation of victims does not guarantee the final settlement of the problem, since the outbreak of violence is the abuser, the latter should be rehabilitated. Placing the abuser in a rehabilitation centre presupposes that the victims can remain in their own home and benefit of assistance and care in their vital environment, which would mean a much more efficient impact on the process of rehabilitation of the victims.

This approach, to place in the rehabilitation centre one person (the abuser) instead of  more people (the victims), is more effective and justified, both from a therapeutic viewpoint, as well as administrative and financial ones. However, in many situations, it is impossible to enforce the law with respect to the issuance and enforcement of protective orders because of lack of such centres.

The ombudsman urges the local public administration authorities to intensify their actions in promoting the rights of domestic violence victims, which in his opinion and that of the law enforcement officials, are not known to a necessary extent, so as to guarantee the citizens’ constitutional rights.
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