The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) works to keep Americans safe at home by countering international crime, illegal drugs, and instability abroad. INL helps countries deliver justice and fairness by strengthening their police, courts, and corrections systems. These efforts reduce the amount of crime and illegal drugs reaching U.S. shores.
Challenges: Moldova inherited a legacy of criminal justice sector institutions and practices from the Soviet Union that continue to affect public trust in law enforcement and the court system, even as it aspires to meet European standards. Corruption, particularly in justice institutions, remains a significant challenge. It is also one of the poorest nations in Europe, which contributes to it being a source country for sex and labor trafficking.
Goals: The principal goals of INL law enforcement and criminal justice sector programs are to help Moldova meet European and international standards in line with their aspirations for European integration. The highest priority is strengthening democratic institutions in the justice sector and strengthening institutional capacity to combat corruption. INL works with Moldovan law enforcement and the justice sector to develop investigative and prosecutorial skills to convict not just mid-level offenders, but also those who profit most from these crimes. INL programming assists the Moldovan government to address priority issues, such as corruption, gender-based violence, trafficking-in-persons, and cybercrime. INL also assists the police to migrate from a confession-based system to a forensic evidence system, which will lend credibility and public confidence to police and the criminal justice system in general, and to combat corruption. INL also assists in building Moldovan cyber capacity through targeted equipment and training, which is key for law enforcement to combat organized crime.
Accomplishments: To support Moldova’s transition to Western-style policing, INL has helped establish Moldova’s first community police stations and bicycle police patrol units. With INL support, Moldova’s National Police forensic lab earned accreditation from the International Organization for Standards (ISO), which makes it easier for other countries to exchange and use evidence. In 2019, the Moldovan Ministry of Internal Affairs conducted the first training session through its Joint Law Enforcement Training Center (JLETC) with INL support, marking an important step forward in fulfilling the Police Development Strategy for 2016-2020. INL has also supported major reforms at the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), where most of the country’s prosecutors and judges receive training, and funded major renovations to update the Institute with smart classrooms and mock courtrooms. With INL support, the NIJ also received ISO accreditation in training service providers, quality management systems, and educational organization management systems. INL has invested more than $2 million in Moldova’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) efforts since 2007 in order to increase its capacity to prosecute and convict traffickers. This investment led to Moldova’s upgrade to Tier 2 on the Department of State’s annual TIP report in 2018. INL also supports civil society organizations to monitor justice sector activities, analyze draft laws, promote reforms, combat sexual and gender-based violence, and fight corruption.