Note: Except where otherwise noted, all references in this report exclude the breakaway region of Transnistria.
The Republic of Moldova is a parliamentary democracy with competitive, multiparty elections. The constitution provides for executive and legislative branches as well as an independent judiciary and a clear separation of powers. The president serves as the head of state and the prime minister serves as the head of government, appointed by the president with parliament’s support. Legislative authority is vested in the unicameral parliament. Presidential elections were held in November 2020 in which no candidate received a majority of the vote. In the subsequent run-off election later in November 2020, former prime minister Maia Sandu defeated incumbent president Igor Dodon and became the country’s first female president. Elections observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe noted in their preliminary findings that fundamental freedoms of assembly and expression were respected, but divisive campaigning and polarizing media coverage hindered voters’ access to quality information. After the prime minister and government resigned in December 2020 and subsequently failed to form a new government, early parliamentary elections were held on July 11. According to Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe observers, the July 11 parliamentary elections were well administered and competitive and fundamental freedoms were largely respected. President Sandu’s Action and Solidarity Party won 63 seats in the 101-seat parliament, enough to form a single-party majority government. On August 6, a new government led by Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita received a vote of confidence in parliament and was sworn in.
The national police force reports to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and is the primary law enforcement body, responsible for internal security, public order, traffic, border security, and criminal investigations. The agencies under the ministry are the General Police Inspectorate, Border Police, the Emergency Situations Inspectorate, Carabinieri (a quasi-militarized gendarmerie responsible for protecting public buildings, maintaining public order, and other national security functions), the Bureau for Migration and Asylum, the Internal Protection and Anticorruption Service, and the Material Reserves Agency. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.
Significant human rights issues included credible reports of: torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by authorities; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; serious problems with the independence of the judiciary; arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; serious restrictions on free expression and media, including violence or threats of violence against journalists, and censorship; serious acts of government corruption; lack of investigation of and accountability for gender-based violence, including domestic and intimate partner violence and sexual violence; crimes, violence, and threats of violence motivated by anti-Semitism; crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting persons with disabilities or members of national/racial/ethnic minority groups; crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or intersex persons; and the existence of the worst forms of child labor.
While authorities investigated reports of human rights abuses and corruption committed by officials, they rarely prosecuted and punished them. Impunity remained a major problem.
Significant human rights issues in the breakaway Transnistria region included credible reports of: forced disappearance by “authorities:” torture and cases of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by “authorities;” harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest or detention; political prisoners or detainees; serious problems with the independence of the “judiciary;” arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; serious restrictions on free expression and media, including violence or threats of violence against journalists, unjustified arrests or prosecutions of journalists, censorship, and the existence of criminal libel “laws;” serious restrictions on internet freedom; substantial interference with the freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association, including overly restrictive “laws” on the organization, funding, or operation of nongovernmental organizations and civil society organizations; serious restrictions on freedom of movement; inability of citizens to change their government peacefully through free and fair elections; serious and unreasonable restrictions on political participation; serious acts of “government” corruption; serious “government” restrictions on or harassment of domestic and international human rights organizations; lack of investigation of and accountability for gender-based violence, including violence against women; crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or intersex persons; existence or use of “laws” criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults; and the existence of the worst forms of child labor.