Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
a. Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings
There were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings during the year.
There were no reports of disappearances by or on behalf of government authorities.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
While the law prohibits such practices, the human rights ombudsman reported allegations of torture and physical abuse, mainly in detention facilities and psychiatric institutions, continued. There were cases of mistreatment in pretrial detention within police stations, particularly in regional police inspectorates.
During the first half of the year, the antitorture division of the Prosecutor General’s Office received 328 allegations of torture and mistreatment, 113 of which involved investigation officers, 72 other police units, including the Carabinieri (a special police force responsible for public order and infrastructure security) and customs officers, 42 employees of the penitentiary system, 26 traffic police, 13 teachers, eight criminal police, two National Anticorruption Center officers, and one person from the military. Prosecutors initiated 49 criminal cases and sent 15 cases to court.
In most cases, police applied violence during detention as a means of intimidation or discrimination, to obtain evidence and confessions, and to punish alleged offenses. Most of the alleged incidents occurred on the street or in public places, followed by police stations, detention facilities, military units, education facilities, and victims’ homes. Educational facilities registered 12 cases of alleged torture, while military units registered 11 cases. Most incidents involved beatings, followed by physical violence following immobilization, other methods, such as beatings using batons, water bottles, and books, and threats or other forms of psychological abuse. The slight decrease in mistreatment complaints during the year was due to harsher sanctions for torture. Humiliating treatment continued to be a problem in penitentiaries and psychiatric institutions.
The human rights ombudsman reported that most allegations of torture and sub-standard detention conditions occurred at Penitentiary No. 13 in Chisinau, Penitentiary No. 11 in Balti, Penitentiaries No. 15 and No. 4 in Cricova. During the first six months of the year, members of the Ombudsman’s National Mechanism to Prevent Torture made 10 preventative visits to prisons, pretrial detention facilities, boarding schools for children with mental disabilities, and a foster home for persons with disabilities. Most of their observations concerned poor detention conditions, lack of sufficient medical care, signs of mistreatment of detainees, verbal and physical abuse of persons with disabilities placed in foster homes, and insufficient qualified staff at specialized institutions for children with disabilities.
In August 2017 Andrei Braguta was found dead at Penitentiary No.16 while held in pretrial detention. According to preliminary information, while in detention, several inmates beat Braguta with the tacit approval of prison guards, who ignored his pleas for help and medical assistance. The Prosecutor General’s Office detained five persons, including three police officers, on charges of torture, investigated an additional 10 officers suspected of mistreating detainees, and sued 13 police officers. The case was ongoing.
In May the International Secretariat of the World Organization against Torture requested government intervention in the case of Serghei Cosovan, a 46-year-old businessman and former local city councilor, who was put in pretrial detention in Prison No. 16 in Chisinau in September 2017 on charges of fraud and abuse of office. Cosovan was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver and underwent several surgeries while in detention. He was transferred to house arrest on April 24, and the next day prosecutors filed a new criminal case on the same offense and reimprisoned him. Experts from the Ombudsman’s Office noted Cosovan required an urgent liver transplant and treatment at an accredited public medical institution specializing in severe hepatic disease and liver transplants, but the Department of Penitentiary Institutions was unable to offer the service and had no contracts with an appropriate medical provider to perform the surgery. While in custody, the prison administration refused to pass along the medication provided for Cosovan’s condition.
Investigation of degrading treatment of patients in psycho-neurological institutions was deficient. In most cases, prosecutors refused to investigate complaints submitted by patients, questioning the accuracy of allegations made by persons with mental disabilities. According to the human rights nongovernmental organization (NGO) Promo-Lex, most prosecutors and investigators lacked technical skills to investigate acts of violence or torture in psychiatric institutions. Another problem was the lack of a regulatory framework for the psychological assessment of victims of torture and inhumane or degrading treatment in psychiatric institutions.
According to the Moldovan Institute for Human Rights, residents of residential psychiatric facilities and psycho-neurological institutions continued to be subject to verbal and physical abuse, deprivation of liberty, forced labor, and forced medication. Unconfirmed cases of sexual abuse were reported by persons confined in residential institutions for mentally disabled persons, which are overseen by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Social Protection.
There were cases of coerced confinement of sane persons in institutions for the mentally ill. In September, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ordered the government to pay 7,000 euros ($8,050) for moral damages to a man who was placed in a mental health facility after hitting the former Minister of Labor, Social protection, and Family in 2014. The victim claimed he had not hit the minister and had only asked a question about pensions at one of the minister’s regional meetings.
Legal proceedings continued in the case of a doctor at an institution in Balti arrested in 2013 for the serial rape, sexual assault, forced abortion, and abuse of patients with mental disabilities. In 2016 a court found the doctor guilty of numerous counts of rape and sentenced him to 13 years in prison. The defendant appealed the ruling, and the case was pending at the Balti Court of Appeal at year’s end. The court postponed the hearings at least 15 times at the lawyers’ request. The doctor remained free pending trial.
According to a report Promo-Lex, there was no mechanism to investigate alleged acts of torture in Transnistria by Transnistrian security forces. Transnistria established an “investigative committee” in 2012. The committee has not initiated any criminal cases for “providing statements under coercion by means of violence, humiliation, or torture.” Promo-Lex noted that authorities perpetrated most inhuman and degrading treatment in the Transnistrian region in order to obtain self-incriminating confessions.
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Conditions in most prisons and detention centers, including those in Transnistria, remained harsh and amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment owing to poor sanitation, lack of privacy, barred or insufficient access to outside walks, and a lack of facilities adapted to persons with disabilities. Several detention facilities underwent minor repair during the year.
Promo-LEX noted that the ECHR concluded in an October ruling that courts issuing arrest warrants in the Transnistrian region “were part of a system that did not respect legal provisions,” especially because of detentions going beyond legal norms and examination of appeals to extend detention terms in the absence of the defendants. Quoting detainees from the region, Promo-LEX said detention conditions were dangerous to life and health.
Physical Conditions: Prisons and detention centers were overcrowded. Human rights NGOs asserted that the abuse and increased use of preventative arrests combined with insufficient application of alternative noncustodial measures contributed to the overcrowding of detention facilities. As of January, the total number of persons in incarceration was 7,635, of which 5,539 were inmates in prisons and 2,096 were held in pretrial detention centers. The official maximum capacity was 5,221 inmates for prisons and 1.514 for pretrial detention centers. Human rights monitors asserted that the official maximum capacities exceeded required international standards. Thus, incarceration numbers reflected overcrowding and resulted in access to only a minimum number of sanitation facilities. The obsolete infrastructure in most prisons did not allow for a separation of prisoners according to minimum required standards, which led to continued violence among inmates. Placement of minors with adult inmates, particularly at Prison no.13 continued to be a problem.
During the first nine months of the year, members of the Council for Prevention of Torture, as part of the national mechanism to prevent torture (NMPT), conducted 11 preventive visits to one prison, six pretrial detention facilities, two residential institutions for children with mental disabilities, and one foster home for persons with disabilities. The main deficiencies found included: pretrial detention exceeding the legally required 72 hours (in some cases, up to several months); poor detention conditions in most pretrial detention facilities; deficient food and medical services; overcrowding and poor detention conditions; poor sanitary conditions; failure to separate minor detainees from adults; insufficient food; deficient medical care for detainees; and a lack of accessibility for persons with disabilities. The NMPT also identified a shortage of personnel in most residential institutions, a lack of specialized personnel including medical staff for the institutions hosting persons with disabilities, deficient healthcare, verbal and physical abuse by personnel against persons with disabilities, involuntary confinement of patients, and a lack of a complaint filing mechanism.
As in previous years, reported detention conditions at Penitentiary No.13 in Chisinau were the worst. Several high-profile detainees held in the penitentiary complained of detention in basement cells that did not meet national or international standards. Allegations of torture and inhuman treatment increased. In multiple cases, the ECHR found that detention conditions in Penitentiary No. 13 were contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights. Cells were overcrowded (in some cells, up to 16 inmates were placed in an area measuring 258 square feet), unhygienic, and lacked ventilation, natural light, or permanent access to water for personal hygiene. Despite numerous calls from the ombudsman and international organizations to close the penitentiary due to inhuman detention conditions, authorities reported they were not able to find an alternative detention facility due to financial constraints.
According to the ombudsman, the situation in police station detention facilities did not change during the year. The office reported inadequate conditions for food distribution; inadequate sanitary conditions in the showers; inadequate health-care facilities; lack of pillows, mattresses, clean bed linen, and clothing; and a lack of a mechanism to file complaints. Detention facilities, located mostly in the basements of police stations, generally lacked access to natural light, adequate ventilation, and sewage systems. Inmates had a daily food budget of approximately 20 lei ($1.20). Human rights NGOs also noted facility staff did not provide pretrial detainees with meals on the days of their court hearings–a potentially severe problem for detainees transported long distances to stand trial, which in some cases meant they received no food for a day.
Health care was inadequate at most penitentiaries. While government regulations require authorities to separate individuals suspected of suffering from tuberculosis from the other detainees, authorities reportedly co-located individuals with various diseases with persons with an unconfirmed diagnosis of tuberculosis, potentially exposing them to infection. Most penitentiaries lacked appropriate facilities for persons with disabilities, which led to inhuman and degrading treatment. Promo-Lex asserted that 30 prisoners died each year due to inadequate medical care.
Police mistreatment of detainees remained a major problem in Transnistria. Detention conditions in the region did not improve.
Administration: Internal investigation procedures in the penitentiary system remained weak, and detainees continued to have restricted access to complaint mechanisms. While detainees generally had the right to submit complaints to judicial authorities, detainees reported censorship and retaliatory punishment by prison personnel or other inmates before or after filing complaints.
Prisoners in the initial period of their sentences and those serving life sentences did not have the right to long-term visits. Access for lawyers to visit their clients in Penitentiary No. 13 improved.
Attorneys for detainees in politically sensitive cases reported difficulties and restrictions in accessing their clients. In one case, attorneys for businessperson Veaceslav Platon, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison for fraud and money laundering, complained of limited access to their client and multiple restrictions imposed by the prison administration. During a September visit to Platon, the attorneys reported their client was bruised from beatings by prison staff and requested the prison administration call an ambulance. They claimed the administration refused and instead had a security squad drag Platon out of the meeting room by force, and masked security guards used physical violence on them when they tried to intervene on their client’s behalf. One of the lawyers was seriously injured and taken to the emergency room. The lawyers filed complaints with the prosecutor’s office and the National Administration of Penitentiaries. Their requests remain unanswered as of the time of this report. In addition to reported beatings, Veaceslav Platon complained of inhuman and degrading treatment while in detention including denial of access to potable water, restricted access to his lawyers, and no access to his family for the past two years.
Reliable information on the administration of prisons in the Transnistria region was generally not available. Transnistrian authorities reported approximately 3,352 detainees in the region.
Independent Monitoring: The government permitted some independent monitoring of prison conditions by local and international human rights observers, and prison officials generally allowed observers to interview inmates in private. Attempts by Amnesty International, the ombudsman, and human rights NGOs to visit detainees held in connection with the country’s 2014 high-profile bank fraud case were unsuccessful.
Improvements: During the year the National Administration of Penitentiaries launched a pilot project and installed video-conferencing equipment in two of the 17 detention facilities in the country. The equipment will allow online court hearings of prison inmates within penitentiary institutions, reducing personnel and transportation costs, and ensuring better security of court hearing participants.
There were no reports of any independent monitoring of detention facilities in the Transnistrian region during the year.
d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
The constitution and law prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention and provides for the right of any person to challenge the lawfulness of his or her arrest or detention in court, but authorities sometimes failed to respect these requirements.
According to Promo-Lex, the police continued the practice of routinely detaining persons sought by unrecognized Transnistrian authorities and transferring them to Transnistrian law enforcement bodies without due process. The country’s courts previously ruled the 1999 agreement establishing such cooperation to be unconstitutional, but the practice continued informally.
In Transnistria, authorities reportedly engaged with impunity in the arbitrary arrest and detention of individuals. There were cases of Transnistrian authorities detaining individuals on fabricated charges without due process.
On July 27, in Transnistria, Ghenadie Kuzmiciov, a former head of customs and internal affairs for the region, was abducted. The human rights NGO Promo-Lex and Kuzmiciov’s lawyer stated during a press conference that Kuzmiciov’s car was stopped by a police unit on his way into Chisinau. According to reports, four unknown persons removed Kuzmiciov from his vehicle and placed him into a separate car without interference from the police. Five days later, Transnistrian authorities confirmed Kuzmiciov was in their custody. Kuzmiciov has been charged by Transnistrian authorities for controlling contraband as part of an organized group and faced 10 years in prison. The case was ongoing at the time of this report.
ROLE OF THE POLICE AND SECURITY APPARATUS
The national police force is the primary law enforcement body and is responsible for internal security, public order, traffic, migration, and border enforcement. The police force has two divisions, criminal and public order police. It reports to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The agencies under the ministry are the General Police Inspectorate, Border Police, the Civil Protection Service, Carabinieri, and the Bureau for Migration and Asylum. During the year, customs and border police dismissed several officials for abuse and conducting unwarranted searches at the country’s border crossing points.
A 2016 law reformed the structure of the Prosecutor General’s Office and governs the activity of two specialized prosecution offices: the anticorruption prosecution office and the prosecutor’s office on combatting organized crime and special cases (e.g., terrorism and torture). In line with the law, parliament changed the process for appointing the prosecutor general: the Superior Council of Prosecutors nominates candidates for prosecutor general, and the president appoints one of the candidates to a single seven-year mandate. Previously, parliament had this appointment authority.
The government made little progress in holding officials accountable for the security force crackdown on postelection demonstrations in 2009 that resulted in three deaths. In October, the ECHR ruled that the country violated Article 3 of the convention because the government was slow to investigate and only imposed mild punishments against police officers who tortured protesters in April 2009. The case involved two young women who were forced to strip naked and perform sit-ups in front of a police officer at the General Police Office in Chisinau. Prosecutors initiated a criminal investigation into three police officers allegedly involved in the case nine months after the incident. The criminal investigation of one of the police officers was terminated after his actions were downgraded to an administrative offense. The other two officers received five-year suspensions.
Overall, prosecutors opened 71 criminal cases against security force personnel. The Prosecutor General’s Office finalized and sent to court 27 cases against 46 police officers. As of September, the judges issued irreversible decisions in 23 cases against 36 law enforcement employees. The courts acquitted 36 police officers, issued four administrative fines, 10 suspended sentences, and two imprisonment sentences against three police officers. Five criminal cases against 11 law enforcement employees were still pending in courts. In January the Supreme Court of Justice dismissed the prosecutors’ appeal of an earlier ruling that acquitted a former head of the Chisinau Public Order Department and his deputy. The two were accused of abuse of power for allegedly beating a former member of parliament in 2009.
ARREST PROCEDURES AND TREATMENT OF DETAINEES
The law allows judges to issue arrest warrants based on evidence from prosecutors. Authorities must promptly inform detainees of the reasons for their arrest and describe the charges against them. Authorities may detain suspects without charge for 72 hours. In a 2016-17 study on procedural guarantees in the pretrial stage of the criminal process, Amnesty International found serious violations of procedural norms during police apprehension and pretrial detention. According to the study, in most cases authorities summoned persons to the police station without a citation or took them into police custody without informing them of the charges against them. In many cases, authorities forced or intimidated detained individuals into providing confessions in the absence of a lawyer. In some cases, questioning in police custody exceeded the legally allowed three hours. Other violations included purposeful altering of protocols, detention in police custody that exceeded legal time limits, and denial of the right to a lawyer or communication with relatives.
Once charged, a detainee may be released pending trial. The law provides for bail, but authorities generally did not use it due to a lack of practical mechanisms for implementation. In lieu of confinement, the courts can also implement judicial controls in the form of house arrest or travel restrictions. The law provides safeguards against arbitrary use of pretrial detention and requires noncustodial alternatives wherever possible. Judges disproportionally used noncustodial alternative arrest mechanisms in cases with political implications.
Detainees have the right to a defense attorney, but at times authorities restricted this right. In some cases, authorities did not grant detainees access to a lawyer until 24 hours after detention. The government required the local bar association to provide representation to indigent defendants, but the government frequently delayed reimbursements of legal fees. Indigent defendants often did not have adequate counsel.
In June, representatives from the Union of Lawyers organized a rally in front of the Court of Appeals and criticized violations of the right to freedom and safety, inhuman detention, and excessive arrests applied by prosecutors and judges.
Pretrial Detention: The law permits pretrial detention for up to 30 days. The courts may extend pretrial detention upon the request of prosecutors, submitted at the end of each 30-day period, for up to 12 months, depending on the severity of the charges. Pretrial detention lasting from several months to several years was common. In 2016 the Constitutional Court ruled that law enforcement agencies could not hold citizens in preventative detention for more than 30 days with a warrant or for more than 12 months cumulatively. The court also ruled that court decisions imposing 90 days of preventative arrest at a time were illegal.
According to a Promo-Lex report, police made arrests during the year in violation of domestic law and international norms. Preventative arrest and detention, when detainees are most vulnerable to torture and mistreatment, were applied excessively. The rate of acceptance of prosecutors’ requests to apply preventative arrest exceeded 80 percent in 2017.
Detainee’s Ability to Challenge Lawfulness of Detention before a Court: The law provides that persons who are arrested or detained are entitled to challenge the legal basis or arbitrary nature of their detention in court and obtain prompt release and compensation if found to have been unlawfully detained. Authorities sometimes failed to respect these provisions.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
While the law provides for an independent judiciary, instances of government officials failing to respect judicial independence remained a problem. Official pressure on judges and corruption in the justice sector continued to be serious problems. Lack of independence in the judiciary was prevalent with allegations that some judges made rulings based on political orders or out of fear of retaliation. Judges often failed to assign cases randomly, as required by law.
Selective justice continued to be a problem. Lawyers for the former mayor of Chisinau, Dorin Chirtoaca, who was indicted in a 2015 parking lot procurement case, claimed that multiple violations of judicial procedures occurred during his trial throughout the year, including hearings held behind closed doors, barring lawyers’ access to case files and evidence, and exceeding the 12-month limit on how long a person can be held in court custody before either their release or receiving a final court sentence.
In June the courts issued a decision invalidating the results of the Chisinau mayoral election won by a political opposition figure, drawing criticism of the judicial process from civil society, local and international organizations, and EU officials. International and local observers considered the courts’ decision politically motivated, nontransparent, and illegitimate.
According to the World Bank report, Moldova–Improving Access to Justice: From Resources to Results, released in September, over 60 percent of citizens and businesses believed that ordinary citizens and businesspeople were unlikely to get a fair trial. Many of the respondents also believed that justice was selective and affected by corruption.
During the year the public and the press did not have access to court proceedings in several high-profile cases involving present and former government and city officials, and bank officials. Lawyers complained of violations of defendants’ rights to a fair public trial. Following a visit to the country in June, the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, noted that lawyers faced politically motivated criminal charges or were threatened each time they defended people with opinions dissenting from authorities. A number of lawyers claimed authorities had opened criminal charges against them on fabricated charges.
Inspector judges are responsible for enforcing a judicial code of ethics and investigating cases of judicial misconduct or ethical breaches. They report to the Superior Council of Magistrates. In 2017 the disciplinary board of the council initiated 55 disciplinary actions and applied seven sanctions, including one reprimand, five warnings, and one dismissal. In 47 cases, the board stopped the investigation and dismissed the alleged violations.
Media representatives and NGOs were concerned about limitations on access to data on the single courts’ national portal developed by the Ministry of Justice’s Agency for Court Administration. Civil society and journalists complained that, because there was no search option, they could not find the names of those involved in court cases, nor could they determine who adjudicated or prosecuted the case.
In 2017 appeals court judge Domnica Manole was dismissed by a presidential decree following a Superior Council of Magistrates decision declaring her unfit to serve, based upon an advisory opinion by the Security and Intelligence Service (SIS). Legal experts asserted that removal of a judge based upon a SIS opinion was illegal and a signal to judges that, should they oppose the government, they could be excluded from the judiciary. In December 2017 the Constitutional Court ruled the dismissal of a judge based on an SIS opinion unconstitutional, but on November 19, the Supreme Court of Justice rejected Manole’s wrongful dismissal claim, finding in favor of the Superior Court Magistrates. Separately, in 2016 Manole faced criminal prosecution on charges of issuing an illegal ruling. She had overturned a Central Electoral Commission decision to block a referendum to amend the constitution. Legal experts criticized the case against her as solely based on her decision later being overturned by a higher court rather than any direct evidence of corruption. The Supreme Court of Justice denied Manole’s appeal and allowed the criminal case against her to continue. Throughout the year, the judiciary postponed hearings multiple times, and, as of November, her case was unresolved.
Although the law presumes the innocence of defendants in criminal cases, authorities did not always respect this presumption. Judges’ remarks occasionally jeopardized the presumption of innocence.
Defendants have the right to be informed promptly and in detail of the charges against them and to a fair and public trial without undue delay. Prosecutors present cases to a judge or panel of judges. Defendants have the right to a lawyer and to attend proceedings, confront witnesses, and present evidence. The law requires the government to provide an attorney to indigent defendants. The practice of appointing temporary defense lawyers without allowing them to prepare adequately was common and undermined the right to legal assistance.
The law prescribes high standards for pro bono legal aid attorneys and defendants’ access to attorneys. Law enforcement, however, did not always enforce these provisions. Legal experts and defendants said in most cases, pro bono legal aid attorneys were poorly prepared and not motivated to work on cases. Defendants can request postponement of a hearing if attorneys need additional time for preparation. Interpretation is provided upon request and was generally available. Judges can delay hearings if additional time is needed to find interpreters for certain uncommon languages. Defendants may refuse to provide evidence against themselves, unless they plead guilty and the judge reviews and endorses their guilty.
The law provides a right to appeal convictions to a higher court on matter of facts and law.
In Transnistria, there were credible reports that authorities disregarded trial procedures and denied defendants a fair trial.
POLITICAL PRISONERS AND DETAINEES
In 2017 the Riscani court found Grigore Petrenco, leader of the opposition Our Home Moldova Party, and five other activists guilty of organizing and leading mass disorder accompanied by violence. The court fined the defendants and issued them suspended prison sentences ranging from three to four-and-a-half years. The defendants declared the ruling was illegal and politically motivated because the court had qualified participation in peaceful antigovernment protests in 2015 as mass disorder. The group appealed the ruling at the Court of Appeals and remained under judicial review at year’s end. Amnesty International Moldova stated the court ruling was biased, violated the right to a free trial, freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom of association. In August 2017 Petrenco fled to Germany and requested political asylum, which was granted to him and his family.
On June 11, in Transnistria, the leader of the Communist Party and opposition figure, Oleg Horjan, was arrested by the region’s de facto authorities after being stripped of his immunity as a member of the Transnistrian “Supreme Soviet,” the secessionist region’s legislature. Charges against Horjan included: organizing illegal protests; resisting and use of force against Transnistrian law enforcement; and insulting a Transnistrian “official.” On November 2, the Tiraspol City Court sentenced Horjan to four years and six months in prison and fined the equivalent of $394.
CIVIL JUDICIAL PROCEDURES AND REMEDIES
The law allows citizens to seek damages in civil courts for human rights violations. Under the constitution, the government is liable when authorities violate a person’s rights by administrative means, fail to reply in a timely manner to an application for relief, or commit misconduct during a prosecution. Judgments awarded in such cases were often small and not enforced. Once all domestic avenues for legal remedy are exhausted, individuals may appeal cases involving the government’s alleged violation of rights provided under the European Convention on Human Rights to the ECHR. Citizens who have exhausted all available domestic remedies may also submit a written communication to the UN Human Rights Committee.
While the government declared a zero tolerance policy toward torture, victims of alleged torture frequently lacked access to effective civil judicial remedies, especially in cases involving mistreatment in penal institutions.
A mediation law establishes an alternative mechanism for voluntarily resolving civil and criminal cases and sets forth rules for professional mediators, but the country lacked an implementation mechanism.
In April, the Chisinau Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a former detainee who complained of inhuman and degrading treatment while being held at Penitentiary No.13. The Court ordered the Ministry of Justice to pay the plaintiff 120,000 lei ($7,180) in moral damages. This was one of the few reported cases where a court ordered an equitable remedy for violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.
At the end of 2017, there were 1,348 cases pending against the country in the ECHR. In 2017 the court delivered 16 judgments against the state and ordered the government to pay over 107,348 euros ($123,000) in damages. The government generally complied with ECHR orders promptly.
The country endorsed the Terezin Declaration in 2009 and the Guidelines and Best Practices in 2010. Although the law provides for restitution of private property confiscated during the “successive fascist and Soviet regimes” to politically repressed or exiled persons, it does not apply to property confiscated from minority groups. The government has not enacted any laws concerning restitution of communal property.
In September 2017, the Supreme Court of Justice ruled in favor of the Jewish community in dismissing an appeal by the Agency of Public Property and upholding a Court of Appeals decision, which rejected the agency’s claim on the Rabbi Tsirilson Synagogue and Magen David Yeshiva ruins, both purchased by the Jewish community in 2010. In May the Jewish community submitted a request to renew a building permit with the Chisinau Mayor’s Office to renovate the property.
f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The constitution prohibits arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home or correspondence unless necessary to ensure state security, economic welfare or public order, or to prevent crimes. During the year government agents often failed to respect these prohibitions.
In August, a number of politically affiliated media outlets published excerpts from the private email correspondence of several opposition party leaders. Unconfirmed reports of illegal wiretaps of the telephones of leaders; surveillance; threats against family members; and intimidation against regional representatives of opposition parties increased during the year.
Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government
Corruption remained one of the country’s most serious problems. While the law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, the government failed to implement the law effectively, and officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. There was widespread corruption within the judiciary and other state structures. The government made some progress in investigating corruption cases involving public officials and the judiciary, but these actions were mostly perceived as selective justice.
In 2017 passage of the Integrity Law increased the National Anticorruption Center’s powers to verify wealth and included language addressing “political integrity, public integrity, institutional integrity, and favoritism.” The National Integrity Authority, which was meant to check assets, personal interests, and conflicts of interest of officials, was not fully operational due to reported staffing delays.
Corruption: The country’s rating in the 2017 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index was 31 on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). In 2017 the government adopted legislation to strengthen the institutional framework to fight corruption, particularly high-level corruption and money laundering. The implementation of the legislation has been delayed. Two key anticorruption institutions, the National Integrity Authority and the Criminal Assets Recovery Agency, were not fully functional and there was no monitoring of the implementation of the National Integrity and Anticorruption Strategy.
Reports noted authorities’ attempts to compromise the processes to prevent and fight corruption and to legalize potentially illegally acquired assets intensified during the reporting year. After several previous attempts, the government introduced and adopted capital amnesty legislation in July, which could allow the legalization of unreported assets, tax liabilities, and cash. International financial institutions and local observers have expressed concerns that the amnesty could facilitate the legalization of stolen or otherwise ill-gotten assets by calling the assets unpaid tax debt, possibly including assets derived from money laundering or the 2014 theft of one billion dollars from the banking sector. While the amnesty law prohibits legalization of criminal assets, many observers note there are few safeguards to prevent this. Civil society groups have criticized the government for demonstrating little will to take action against those involved in the 2014 bank theft or to recover the stolen funds. The government also adopted legislation allowing foreigners to obtain citizenship through investment and removed the possibility of criminal punishment for certain economic crimes.
The report by Transparency International noted the government continued to suppress civic activists, whistleblowers, lawyers, and judges; initiated new criminal cases against political opponents at the local level; used the law on the protection of personal data to impede access to information of public interest; and amended electoral legislation to benefit the largest, most organized political parties. The report concluded these practices were indicative of high level corruption and political corruption, which led to what it labelled “state capture” (i.e., private interests significantly influencing a state’s decision-making processes).
Approximately 40 to 50 percent of citizens admitted to having paid bribes to those working in the public sector.
Unprecedented political “migration” and party defections among parliamentarians demonstrated the extent of corrupt influences in parliament and the buying of political support, with more than one-third of members of parliament no longer representing the party that elected them. The 2017 Nations in Transit report indicated that local politicians changed parties presumably for money or possibly due to threats and intimidation. Since the 2015 local elections, hundreds of mayors and local council members have defected from their parties. Local officials complained that central authorities denied state resources to opposition mayors and that law enforcement officials harassed opposition local officials. According to the Nations in Transit report, over the previous nine years, the judiciary became less independent, while corruption remained the same. The country’s democracy continued its downward trend and remained “partly free.” Justice reform stagnated, while the political influence remained the greatest challenge for the country’s judicial system. The report noted the political process was negatively affected by the change of the electoral system.
Since 2014 the National Anticorruption Center has initiated 674 criminal investigations into suspected corruption by mayors and other local public officials, according to a study by the NGO IDIS Viitorul. The study determined that most local officials under investigation decided to switch party allegiance to the ruling party, after which most of the investigations stopped. Up to 50 percent of the final decisions issued by the courts sentenced officials for corruption, while the rest resulted in acquittals or cancelled investigations. Many of the cases opening criminal or administrative investigations were criticized for making mayors more vulnerable to political interests.
In March 2017 authorities arrested the minister of agriculture, Eduard Grama, on bribery charges involving illegally renting and selling state public lands. If found guilty, he could face a sentence of 15 years in prison; the case was pending at year’s end.
In October the National Anticorruption Center detained 10 people on corruption charges, including three judges from the Court of Appeals, two judges from the Chisinau Central Court, a prosecutor from the Chisinau prosecutor’s office, a lawyer, a legal assistant, a doctor, and a private individual. Of the persons detained, four judges were placed under house arrest and the others were in pretrial detention at year’s end. The cases are ongoing.
Financial Disclosure: A number of laws require financial disclosure by public officials, including state officials, judges, prosecutors, civil servants, and officials holding leadership positions. The National Integrity Authority, an independent body tasked with auditing income statements and monitoring conflicts of interest of public officials, has the power to apply sanctions. The law provides for the dismissal of and a ban on holding public office for officials who fail to declare their assets and the institutionalization of an integrity inspector with power to request seizure of illegally acquired assets. The law requires the heads of state enterprises and local councilors to submit income statements provides for an online system for wealth and interest statement submissions. By law, officials must make public income statements within 30 days of their appointment and before March 31 of each year for the duration of their term in office. The government enforced this requirement inconsistently.
In December 2017, the president signed decrees appointing new leadership to the National Integrity Authority. During the year the integrity authority was not fully functional due to delays in selecting the number of integrity inspectors (30) that were required by law.
Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape or forcible sexual assault and establishes penalties for violations ranging from three years to life in prison. The law also criminalizes spousal rape.
Rape remained a problem, and there were no specific governmental rape prevention activities. From January-September, police registered 179 cases of rape, compared to 58 total registered cases in 2017.
In one prominent case, in August, a 15-year-old Romani girl and her mother from Soroca were kidnapped, raped, set on fire, and murdered. The perpetrator pled guilty to committing a hate crime and faces up to 25 years in prison on multiple criminal counts. The case was under investigation at year’s end.
A study released in 2017 by the international NGO La Strada noted that the legal system in the country did not provide an effective remedy for victims of sexual abuse. According to the study, in many cases, rape was requalified as sexual intercourse with a person younger than 16, which reduced the potential penalty, and victims’ statements on the lack of consent were not taken into account. In one in three cases, law enforcement officers initiated criminal investigations for less serious offenses than the ones reported by the victims. In 90 percent of the cases, the victims were not present at the preliminary hearings or the first court hearing on the case. Victims were commonly forced to confront their attacker in court.
Sexual violence was the least recognized and reported form of violence. According to police statements, more than 60 percent of cases went unreported. Upon adoption of the new strategy in combating violence against women, police selected officers to attend specialized trainings to improve investigations of sexual violence cases. In addition, community police campaigns distributed informational pamphlets, entitled Victims Letter of Rights, to encourage the reporting of sexual violence. Victims of sexual violence continued to experience extremely long delays in their cases due to lengthy evidence collection procedures and prosecutions, while the need for numerous interrogations and confrontations with their rapist added to the trauma they experienced.
The law defines domestic violence as a criminal offense, provides for the punishment of perpetrators, defines mechanisms for obtaining restraining orders against abusive individuals, and extends protection to unmarried individuals and children of unmarried individuals. The law regulates five forms of domestic violence–physical, psychological, sexual, economic, and spiritual. This law served as a platform for the development of legal relationships necessary to ensure access to justice for victims of domestic violence. The maximum punishment for family violence offenses is 15 years’ imprisonment.
As of September, police registered 1,742 cases of domestic violence, 604 of which were treated as criminal cases and 1,138 as misdemeanors. There were 15 cases of domestic violence that resulted in death. Police carried out prevention activities on persons who showed violent behavior in family relationships.
One case during the year involved two married former border police officers who had been divorced for three years because of domestic violence and had a five-year-old child. On March 8, after a restraining order on him had expired, the former husband visited his 29-year-old ex-wife, ostensibly to congratulate her on International Women’s Day. On March 9, the body of the ex-wife was found in a bag in the trash can. A criminal case was opened and was pending in court.
The law requires victims to prove they were subjected to violence, while the perpetrator is protected by the presumption of innocence. NGOs criticized that there is little chance to obtain protective measures in cases of acts of violence that do not involve physical violence, that result from physical violence committed for the first time, or that did not leave visible injuries on the victim’s body. According to NGOs, judges in the Chisinau Judicial Courts inconsistently applied the law by rejecting several applications requesting to issue a protection order for victims due to lack of evidence of violence. In cases where protective measures were applied, implementation continued to be a problem due to the lack of support networks and counselling services.
The law permits excluding an abuser from lodging shared with the victim, regardless of who owns the property. Law enforcement officials may apply emergency restriction orders requested by domestic violence victims.
A study published in September by the Women’s Law Center on domestic violence cases showed a decreasing number of victims received legal representation. The study attributed the decline to the misapplication of the law granting victims state legal support and representation. According to the study, defendants were represented by lawyers in 94 percent of the cases, compared to just 6 percent of cases where victims were represented.
The law provides for cooperation between government and civil society organizations, establishes victim protection as a human rights principle, and allows third parties to file complaints on behalf of victims. The NGO La Strada, for example, operated a hotline to report domestic violence, offered victims psychological and legal aid, and provided victims options for follow-up assistance. La Strada’s hotline registered 1,578 calls and assisted with legal and psychological counselling and advice for 545 victims of domestic violence. The Women’s Law Center offered legal, psychological and social support to 298 victims of domestic violence.
There was progress in building institutional capacity to protect women and children against domestic violence. The Ministry of Internal Affairs continued training for police officers handling domestic violence cases. According to various NGOs and UNICEF, the effectiveness of protective orders depended on the attitude of authorities. Police protection of victims and proper execution of protective orders improved slightly, with authorities issuing an increased number of protective orders within 24 hours as required by law. NGOs, however, expressed concern that authorities were insufficiently proactive in combating indifference toward domestic violence among prosecutors and social workers. There were cases reported of authorities not issuing protective orders until a month after the alleged mistreatment. NGOs also maintained that authorities relied excessively on them to publicize available remedies and to assist victims in requesting protection.
The law does not provide criminal penalties for abuse resulting in “nonsignificant bodily harm” (e.g., slapping, hair pulling, pushes) that does not leave marks or result in missed work. Under the law, abuse involving “nonsignificant” harm is punished administratively. According to NGOs, after release from detention, abusers commonly returned to their homes and continued to abuse.
During the year the Women’s Law Center in partnership with National Institute of Justice trained more than 100 judges, criminal investigators, and prosecutors on preventing and combating domestic violence.
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment remained a common problem. The law provides criminal penalties for sexual harassment ranging from a fine to a maximum of three years’ imprisonment. The law prohibits sexual advances that affect a person’s dignity or create an unpleasant, hostile, degrading, or humiliating environment in a workplace or educational institution. According to NGOs, law enforcement agencies steadily improved their handling of sexual harassment cases, addressing harassment of students by university professors and several instances of workplace harassment. Civil society groups criticized the judicial system for displaying inadequate concern for the safety of victims and for not holding perpetrators accountable for their behavior.
In one example that received media attention, a university assistant in August accused a professor from the State Medical University of sexual harassment. The professor denied the allegations and demanded damage compensation of a million lei ($59,800) from the assistant. The ethics commission of the university requested additional evidence from the victim before completing its investigation, but she later refused to go forward with the case.
As of September, police registered 25 cases of sexual harassment, and eight cases were sent to trial. Victims reported that authorities sometimes failed to inform them about the progress and outcome of investigations of sexual harassment.
Coercion in Population Control: Cases of forced abortions and forced use of contraception were reported in prisons, psychiatric institutions, and social care homes.
Discrimination: Women and men enjoy the same legal status in family, labor, property, nationality, and inheritance law and in the judicial system. The law requires equal pay for equal work, which authorities generally respected. The law requires that women fill a minimum of 40 percent of decision making positions in government and political offices; bans publicity that promotes discriminatory messages or stereotypes; prohibits sexist and discriminatory language and images in the media and advertising; spells out employers’ responsibilities in ensuring workplaces are free of discrimination and sexual harassment; and introduces two-week state-paid paternity leave.
In 2017 the government approved the Gender Equality Strategy for 2017-2021 to promote a complex approach to gender equality; improve institutional mechanisms for ensuring gender equality; combat stereotypes and promote nonviolent communication; promote gender equality in the security and defense sectors; and provide for gender sensitive budgeting.
The UN Development Program National Human Development Report 2015/2016, released in June 2017, noted that, although women represented half the work force of the country, they were mostly employed in low-paying jobs. Women earned on average 12 percent less than men.
Birth Registration: Persons may acquire citizenship through birth in the country, from citizen parents, or after adoption by citizens. Registration of birth is free of charge for all citizens. The lack of registration certificates for a number of children, especially in rural areas and in Romani families, remained a problem. Observers estimated that more than 1,000 children lacked identification documents.
Education: Primary education was free and compulsory until the ninth grade. Education of Romani children remained a problem; only half of Romani children attended school and only one in five attended preschool. According to Romani representatives, absenteeism and school dropout in Romani communities was due to poverty and fear of discrimination.
Child Abuse: Although the law prohibits child neglect and specific forms of abuse, such as forced begging, child abuse remained a problem. A special unit for minors and human rights in the Prosecutor General’s Office was responsible for ensuring that particular attention and expertise was devoted to child abuse victims and child offenders.
In June during the launch of a national dialogue for combating violence against children, authorities stated that children in the country continued to be subject to physical and psychological abuse. According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Social Protection, the number of child abuse cases in 2017 increased by 11,000 over the previous year. Many children remained without parental care and social service authorities lacked effective tools for protection. The ministry also noted that social norms created an environment that is tolerant to violence against children at home and at school, and encouraged discrimination against children, teenagers and other vulnerable groups. According to the ombudsperson for children’s rights, many children admitted to experiencing abuse at school, in the family, and in society. Very few, however, had the courage to speak openly about their cases.
The Prosecutor General’s Office reported that 1,401 children were victims of various crimes in 2017 and noted an increase of cases of sexual abuse. The Prosecutor General’s Office reported the high number of children who were victims of crimes was due to the poor functioning of a social protection integrated system and inefficient tools to protect children at risk.
According to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research in the first half of the 2017-18 academic year, authorities registered 4,794 cases of violence against children.
Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age for marriage is 16 for women and 18 for men. There were no official statistics regarding child marriages.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The Prosecutor’s Office to Combat Organized Crime and Special Cases is responsible for investigating and prosecuting child sexual abuse cases. Authorities punished commercial sex with minors as statutory rape. The minimum age for consensual sex is 16. The law prohibits the production, distribution, broadcasting, import, export, sale, exchange, use, or possession of child pornography, and violators face one to three years’ imprisonment.
Child prostitution is punishable by three to seven years imprisonment. Child pornography is punishable by one to three years imprisonment and fines of 150,000 to 250,000 lei ($8,970 to $15,000). Engaging minors in illegal activities is punishable by up to seven years imprisonment or a fine of 27,500 to 52,500 lei ($1,640 to $3,140). Engaging minors in illicit use of drugs, medicines, or other substances with intoxicating effects is punishable by up to six years in prison or a fine of 27,500 to 52,500 lei ($1,640 to $3,140).
Observers reported child prostitution and child sex tourism. According to UNICEF, about 10 percent of children in the country were exposed to sexual abuse, and prosecutors announced a high number of cases of sexual abuse of children.
Since January the Cybercrimes Unit of the National Investigation Inspectorate and the Prosecutor’s Office to Combat Organized Crime and Special Cases opened 10 criminal cases on charges of child pornography. Over 5,000 child pornography files were found featuring children between the ages of three and 14. From the files, seven victims were identified. The court was examining the criminal cases.
During the year, La Strada assisted 40 children that were victims or witnesses of sexual exploitation or sexual abuse. Four were cases involving child pornography, six involved child sexual exploitation, 23 involved child sex trafficking, four involved child rape, and three were cases of violent actions of sexual nature. Assistance from Child Services ensured measures were taken to protect children during court proceedings, including providing legal and psychological assistance during the investigation and criminal phases.
During the year, law enforcement agencies, in cooperation with civil society organizations, organized a number of events and movie screenings to educate the public on how social networks and the Internet are used to recruit and sexually exploit children. The international center La Strada operated a hotline and an online platform for children, their parents, and teachers to educate them on online safety.
Institutionalized Children: During the year, there were 1,119 children in government residential institutions, including 476 children with mental disabilities, 377 orphans and children without parental care, and 266 children with sensory disabilities. Children in residential institutions were at greater risk of employment, sexual exploitation, trafficking, and suicide compared with their peers raised in families.
Legal protection mechanisms for street children were not functional.
International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data.html.
The Jewish community numbered between 25,000-30,000 persons, including 2,000 living in Transnistria.
According to the Jewish community, anti-Semitic discourse and attitudes increased during the year, particularly on social media. No acts of vandalism or Jewish property destruction, however, were reported. The political infighting and participation of people of Jewish descent in domestic politics ignited hate speech in the public space. Property restitution continued to be a problem for the Jewish community and there was no law to address it (see section 1.e., Property Restitution).
In 2016 parliament endorsed the Elie Wiesel Commission’s Report on the Holocaust. It condemned attempts to deny or ignore the Holocaust and paid homage to its victims and survivors. The government implemented most of the activities included in the Holocaust education and commemoration 2017-19 action plan. During the year the Ministry for Education, Culture, and Research began working on opening a Jewish History Museum at the Jewish Library. The museum will include a permanent exhibit, thematic exhibits, an educational center, and a library. The government also launched an initiative to restore the Jewish cemetery in Chisinau and build a Yad Vashem-style Jewish historical cultural center that will include Jewish historical sites in the country.
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.
Persons with Disabilities
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.
The restructuring of the National Council to Determine Disability and Work Capacity, continued during the year. Under the reform, disability status will be determined based on both medical and psychosocial criteria. The reform was designed to increase transparency and reduce corruption within the system. Persons with disabilities will be able to request determination of their disability status online and special expert committees will examine the requests.
Human rights observers criticized the country’s guardianship system. A person placed under guardianship loses all standing before the law and cannot perform social and legal acts, such as marriage, voting, claiming social benefits, and consenting to or refusing medication.
Human rights NGOs reported cases of violence, abuse, involuntary confinement, forced labor, forced medication, and humiliating and degrading treatment in segregated institutions for persons with mental disabilities. Most residential institutions had a shortage of medical staff, inadequate housing and sanitation facilities, and lacked proper accommodation for persons with mobility impairments.
According to the Promo-Lex presidential election observation mission, in the 2016 presidential elections, 36 percent of polling stations were not accessible for persons with mobility impairments and 33 percent lacked proper conditions for persons with vision disabilities.
Most schools were 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.
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. 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.
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.
In Transnistria, 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.
Roma continued to be one of the most vulnerable minority groups in the country and faced a higher risk of marginalization, under-representation in political decision making, illiteracy, and social prejudice. Roma had lower levels of education, more limited access to health care, and higher rates of unemployment than the general population (see section 7.d.). Romani women were particularly vulnerable to social exclusion and discrimination.
Authorities lacked an effective mechanism to address vulnerable families whose children did not attend school.
Approximately 60 percent of Romani families lived in rural areas. Some Romani communities lacked running water, sanitation facilities, and heating. Other problems facing Roma included lack of emergency health-care services in secluded settlements, unfair or arbitrary treatment by health practitioners, lower rates of health insurance coverage, and discrimination in the job market. According to the most recent statistics, only 21 percent of Roma were actively employed. Throughout the year, Roma groups reported being denied service at restaurants in Soroca and Riscani.
Latin-script schools in Transnistria continued to be a matter of dispute between the Moldovan authorities and the de facto Transnistrian authorities, although a formal agreement was signed to reduce the rent paid by Moldovan authorities operating Latin-script schools in Transnistria.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The law prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. Societal discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity continued. The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) community reported cases of verbal and physical abuse. In most cases, police officers were reluctant to open cases against the perpetrators. In September, President Igor Dodon stated that the LGBTI “phenomenon offended the country’s values and public morality,” and stressed that the organization of festivals, parades, and events contributing to the “dissemination of immoral principles must be strongly condemned and even outlawed.”
The NGO Genderdoc-M reported multiple verbal and physical assaults against LGBTI individuals during the year, including 11 crimes motivated by anti-LGBTI prejudice, 19 cases of discrimination and incitement to discrimination, and 19 cases of hate speech. Genderdoc-M reported 13 cases of discrimination, hate speech, hate crime, infringement upon family rights, and freedom of assembly based on sexual orientation or gender identity were under examination at the ECHR, including two filed during the year.
Civil society organizations reported that, although transgender individuals were allowed to change their names (e.g., from a male to a female name) on legal identity documents, including passports, the government did not permit them to update gender markers to reflect their gender identity. Transgender individuals also experienced employment discrimination (see section 7.d.).
In May Genderdoc-M organized the 17th annual LGBTI festival, culminating in a solidarity (pride) march on May 19. Despite counterprotests organized by anti-LGBTI demonstrators and some religious groups, the event enjoyed a significant level of police protection, which prevented violence and allowed pride march participants to safely complete the route.
In Transnistria, consensual same-sex sexual activity is illegal, and LGBTI persons were subjected to official as well as societal discrimination.
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
Persons living with HIV continued to face societal and official discrimination. A 2015 study on equality perceptions and attitudes by the Council to Prevent and Combat Discrimination and Ensure Equality and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reported that persons living with HIV/AIDS represented the second most stigmatized group in the country after LGBTI persons. According to the study, persons with HIV were mostly perceived negatively, labeled as “leading a disordered sexual life” and frequently associated with drug users.
The law prohibits hospitals and other health institutions from denying admission or access to health-care services or requesting additional fees from persons with HIV or suspected of being HIV-positive. Prison inmates with HIV/AIDS faced high levels of discrimination by both prison staff and other inmates.
Hospitals disclosed HIV status without consent to persons not entitled to have such information.