The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities in employment, education, access to public facilities, health care, or the provision of other government services, but authorities rarely enforced the law. It prohibits construction companies from designing or constructing buildings without specific access for persons with disabilities and requires transportation companies to equip their vehicles to meet the needs of persons with disabilities. The law also requires that land, railroad, and air transportation authorities provide access for persons with disabilities and adapt public spaces and transportation to provide access for wheelchair users. The airport administration must provide an escort for persons with disabilities. Authorities implemented the provisions of the law only to a limited extent during the year.
A joint report released in 2015 by the Mental Disability Advocacy Center in partnership with the UN Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities found that, despite some progress in advancing the rights of persons with disabilities in the country through expanded inclusive and community-based services, there remained a number of shortcomings. The report noted that more than 1,700 children with mental or intellectual disabilities remained in segregated educational institutions, while authorities deprived an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 persons of their legal capacity and placed them under the full control of guardians (they could not marry, divorce, sign an employment contract, refuse medication, etc.). Many guardians chose to place persons with disabilities in closed institutions against their will. Observers also recorded violence and abuse, including cases of rape and forced abortion, in segregated institutions for persons with mental disabilities. While the law provides equal voting rights for all persons with disabilities, including mental disabilities, the law does not permit persons with mental disabilities who do not have legal capacity to vote. In May 2015 parliament voted to remove from the electoral code the provision that allowed persons deprived of legal capacity to vote. Of 184,000 persons with disabilities registered in the country, 13,000 were children. The law entitles children with disabilities to home schooling provided by the government, but this service was limited in rural areas. In many cases, children with disabilities declined schooling to avoid discrimination. Schools were often ill equipped to address the needs of children with disabilities. Some children with disabilities attended mainstream schools, while authorities placed others in boarding schools or they were home schooled.
In Transnistria, children with disabilities rarely attended school and lacked access to specialized resources.
Official regulations mandate access to buildings for persons with disabilities. While many newly built or reconstructed buildings were accessible, older buildings often were not. More than 70 percent of public institutions lacked access ramps for persons with disabilities. According to the Motivatie association for persons with disabilities, only 1 percent of buildings in Chisinau were accessible. Even where ramps existed, they frequently did not fit a standard wheelchair or they were too steep or slippery. Most ramps at street crossings did not provide adequate access for wheelchair users. Persons with limited mobility complained about the lack of access to public transportation and public institutions as well as the shortage of designated parking places. The Social Assistance Division in the Ministry of Labor, Social Protection, and Family and the National Labor Force Agency were responsible for protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities.
According to election observers, in the presidential elections, independent access for persons with disabilities to the polling stations was not ensured in over 60 percent of observed polling places, while in over 20 percent of polling stations, observers found that the layout was not suitable for voters with disabilities.
In 2015 the Civil Aviation Authority organized training for air operators, flight attendants, and airport handling personnel on rules for serving passengers with disabilities. The training covered such aspects as the rights of the persons with disabilities for the duration of the air travel, efficient nondiscriminatory communication, proper support for persons with mobility disabilities, and use of wheelchairs.
The range of social services available to persons with disabilities included specialized services, such as social assistance, support, and counseling to foster social inclusion. There were 114 community service centers for persons with disabilities that served approximately 4,700 beneficiaries. There were also 16 mobile support groups providing social assistance, medical, and psychological support to 481 beneficiaries. The government budgeted 9.5 million lei ($475,000) for services to persons with disabilities in 2015.
There were 7,000 persons nationwide with vision disabilities, 3,500 of whom were completely blind. During the 2015 local elections the Central Election Commission tested for the first time a pilot project to provide ballots in Braille in all polling stations for persons with vision disabilities. According to the Promo-Lex presidential election observation mission, on election day, 36 percent of polling stations were not accessible for persons with mobility impairments (lack of access ramps, polling stations located on the second floor) and 33 percent of polling stations lacked proper voting conditions for persons with vision disabilities (insufficient lighting, lack of eyeglasses or ballots in Braille).
According to a study completed in 2015, only 43 percent of persons with disabilities in the country were employed.
Persons with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities in residential institutions and psychiatric hospitals were the most vulnerable to abuse. Human rights NGOs noted that residential institutions posed high risks for physical abuse, involuntary confinement, forced medication, rape, and other types of abuse. Women were often subject to forced abortions and contraception. NGOs reported a high mortality rate in psychiatric institutions. Residents in psychiatric hospitals were not allowed sufficient time outdoors.
IDOM identified two cases of placement of orphans and children from disadvantaged families in psychiatric institutions for a period of four to six months. In one case, an institution placed a 15-year-old youth with mild intellectual disability in a ward for adults with significant mental disabilities and subjected him to intensive antipsychotic medication as a punishment measure for breaking a window.
Mechanisms for residents in psychiatric institutions to submit complaints were not functional during the year. Penitentiaries lacked appropriate conditions for the detention of persons with disabilities, which led to inhuman and degrading treatment. Of 7,600 inmates detained in penitentiaries during the year, 206 were persons with disabilities, including 59 with physical disabilities, 19 with hearing disabilities, and 33 with vision disabilities. A 2014 report by the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights noted that authorities continued to commit severe abuses, such as neglect, mental and physical abuse, and sexual violence, against persons with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities. The rapporteur also raised concerns about unsanitary and unhygienic conditions.
With UN support, the government set up a National Health Management Center within the Ministry of Health to handle complaints filed by persons with social, neurological, or intellectual disabilities. At the same time, 13 lawyers provided free legal services to residents in psychiatric institutions.
The mortality rate in mental health institutions was significantly higher than in other health-care facilities. Authorities conducted no conclusive investigations on deaths in these institutions. The level of treatment in psychiatric facilities was substandard.
Human rights observers criticized the country’s guardianship system. A person placed under guardianship loses all standing before the law and cannot engage in social and legal acts, such as marriage, voting, claiming social benefits, consenting to medication, or refusing medication.
Although the law provides for equal employment opportunities and prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities (with the exception of jobs requiring specific health standards), many employers either failed to accommodate or avoided employing such persons. The law requires that 5 percent of the workforce in companies with 20 or more employees be persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities are legally entitled to two months of paid annual leave and a six-hour workday, benefits that made employers less willing to hire them.
Transnistrian legislation provides for protection of the rights of persons with disabilities in the areas of education, health care, and employment. Reliable information about the treatment of persons with disabilities in Transnistria was unavailable.