Moldova's International Obligations on Discrimination Policy

Under international law, discrimination is any difference of treatment based on a prohibited  ground that does not have an objective and reasonable justification. Discrimination impairs  the exercise of other human rights on an equal basis. Prohibited grounds can include any 
personal quality, characteristic or circumstances upon which arbitrary distinctions are made  such as: ethnicity, religion, national or social origin, language, physical appearance, descent,  gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age or disability, religion or belief, domicile, or any other status. 
A difference of treatment may be considered as having an objective or reasonable  justification if it is for a legitimate purpose compatible with the human rights obligations of the state.
A legitimate purpose could be related to public health or security, or public policy concerns such as health and safety. However, in order for a difference of treatment to qualify as objective and reasonable it should also be proportionate to the aim it seeks to achieve.
The European Court of Human Rights has been insistent that unfavorable treatment based on prohibited ground will require particularly weighty justification to be compatible with human rights standards.
International and European anti-discrimination law prohibits both direct and indirect discrimination. The latter occurs when an apparently neutral law, procedure or practice 
results in a disproportionate disadvantage for, or has a disparate impact on, a particular group without any objective or reasonable justification. 
Moldova is party to several human rights treaties prohibiting discrimination. These include the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against women (CEDAW), the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) Most recently in September 2010 Moldova ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with 
Disabilities. 
What these obligations mean in practice is that Moldova must: 
  • Prohibit direct and indirect discrimination on all grounds and in all areas of life; 
  • Set up independent national anti-discrimination bodies to monitor and make recommendations regarding respect for non-discrimination legislation that have effective investigative powers, a mandate to examine individual complaints of discrimination in both the private and the public sector and take binding and enforceable decisions, and adequate staff and funds; 
  • Provide access to effective judicial remedies for victims of discrimination including measures such as the provision of legal aid and representation by non-governmental organizations; 
  • Ensure effective monitoring of the impact of legislation and policies on different groups and collection of accurate disaggregated data to use in identifying and addressing discrimination. 
Although discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is not explicitly mentioned in the non-discrimination provisions of the ICCPR and the ECHR, both instruments include nonexhaustive lists of prohibited grounds of discrimination, noting that States must combat discrimination on any grounds. Moreover, the European Court of Human Rights has clarified that the list or prohibited grounds included in Article 14 of the ECHR covers sexual orientation and the Human Rights Committee has reached the same conclusion with respect to the non-discrimination provisions of the ICCPR.10
Crimes which fall under the definition of “hate crimes” are the most insidious manifestation of intolerance and discrimination. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has defined hate crimes as “criminal offences, including offences against persons or property, where the victim, premises or target of the offence are selected because of their real or perceived connection, attachment, affiliation, support or membership of a group”. 
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has found that states have the duty to take all necessary steps to unmask possible racist motivations behind crimes: 
Where there is suspicion that racial attitudes induced a violent act it is particularly important that the official investigation is pursued with vigour and impartiality, having regard to the need to reassert continuously society's condemnation of racism and ethnic hatred and to maintain the confidence of minorities in the ability of the authorities to protect them from the threat of racist violence. 11 It also found that crimes perpetrated with a racist bias cannot be treated as common crimes because they are particularly destructive of fundamental rights.12The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) has addressed the role of the police in combating racist offences and monitoring racist incidents. In its General Policy Recommendation No. 11, ECRI calls on the governments of Council of Europe member states 
to: 
  • ensure that the police thoroughly investigate racist offences, including by fully taking the racist motivation of ordinary offences into account; 
  • establish and operate a system for recording and monitoring racist incidents, and the extent to which these are brought before prosecutors and are eventually qualified as racist offences; 
  • encourage victims and witnesses of racist incidents to report such incidents.
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