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 in 1991 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 trafficking 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. INL works with Moldovan law enforcement and the justice sector to develop investigative and prosecutorial skills to convict not just mid-level traffickers, 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. Other projects include: general legal skills training; development of the defense bar; legal education reform; addressing domestic violence; and providing grants to support civil society initiatives monitoring and promoting criminal justice.
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, in February 2018 the 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 September 2018, two INL grantees released a court monitoring study of the response of the Moldovan justice sector to domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking cases. The study, the first of its kind in Moldova, identified gaps and provided recommendations for improvement. INL has also supported major reforms at the National Institute of Justice, 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. The modernized facility will increase the effectiveness of recent efforts by the NIJ to transition from theoretical lectures to simulation-based training. INL also supports civil society organizations to monitor justice sector activities, analyze draft laws, promote reforms, and fight corruption. With INL support, in 2018 investigative journalists published record numbers of articles about corruption and reform in the justice sector and there was increased readership of such articles. For example, the portal anticoruptie.md recorded 137,000 views in fiscal year 2018, which was an all-time high. Trafficking in Persons (TIP) prosecutions and convictions have increased in Moldova, and overall victim numbers have decreased over the last few years as a direct result of INL’s increased support and capacity building at Moldova’s Center for Combating Trafficking in Persons (CCTIP), where INL has invested over $2 million since 2007.