Democracy and rights
Moldova is one of the worst performing
countries in Europe in terms of human rights. Political
institutions are adversely affected by special interests
and society is permeated by corruption. The judiciary is
far from being able to guarantee fair treatment to
citizens and there is abuse and torture in prisons.
The most recent elections have been judged to be
largely free and fair, although some remarks have been
made, such as applicable shortcomings in electoral
lengths, the electoral law and laws governing party
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There are no formal barriers to forming parties and
conducting politics in opposition to the government, but
it has unbalanced the system. Oligarchs and other
businessmen can, through generous party financing laws,
pump large resources into the parties they support while
other parties remain underfunded and thus find it
difficult to make themselves heard. Large parts of the
media sector are also controlled by powerful business
Criticism has been directed at the electoral law that
was adopted in the summer of 2017, which means that half
of the mandates are now filled by majority voting in
one-man constituencies instead of proportional elections
as before. The critics believe that the new system
disadvantages smaller parties and that candidates in
one-man constituencies risk being exposed to undue
pressure from local interests. Another problem is that
the exercise of power does not always follow the rules
that apply to decision-making, but decisions can be made
in informal processes.
Women and the country's minorities are
under-represented in politics. There is a law that says
that 40 percent of all candidates in an election must be
women, but compliance with the law is reported to be
poor. After the last 2019 election, 23 percent of all
MPs are women (in Sweden, the figure is 44 percent).
Freedom of assembly and association is enshrined in
the Constitution and is usually respected.
Laws have been passed in recent years to increase
citizens 'transparency in decision-making, but the
process is surrounded by rules and often individuals'
requests for information are rejected.
There is a national action plan for human rights. A
so-called Equality Council and two ombudsmen have the
task of ensuring that the action plan is followed. Lack
of resources makes it difficult for them to fulfill
their mission. Another aggravating circumstance is a
general lack of knowledge of human rights in the
Different forms of discrimination occur. The most
vulnerable are women, linguistic and sexual minorities
and people with disabilities (read more in Social
Religious freedom is enshrined in the constitution
and the country's religious minorities can usually
freely exercise their faith, but in recent years there
have been occasional attacks on Jehovah's Witnesses,
Pentecostals, Baptists and Jews.
Freedom of expression and media
The constitution prescribes freedom of the press and
opinions, but in practice the state exercises some
control over the media. For example, the government can
put pressure on individual journalists by denying them
access to information or condemning them publicly. It
has happened that journalists who have criticized the
authorities have been subjected to threats and physical
Large ownership concentration in the media industry
is a problem, as are many media associated with a
political party. Television is the most important medium
and four-fifths of all TV channels are owned by
interests attached to some party.
In 2009, a law was abolished against slander and
defamation by senior public officials, which could
result in imprisonment. Despite this, self-censorship
among journalists is still commonplace. Corruption among
power holders is a sensitive issue, as are the incomes
and wealth of top politicians and their family members.
Moldova is ranked according to Reporters Without
Borders latest press freedom index in place 91 of 180
countries, see list here. Of the countries in Europe,
only Bulgaria and Russia receive a poorer ranking (111
and 149 respectively).
Systematic corruption occurs at all levels of society
and is considered to be one of Moldova's biggest
problems. In the assessment of the degree of corruption
in the world countries that Transparency International
does each year, Moldova falls into the bottom layer of
Europe, see list here. The country is considered the
most corrupt in Europe after Russia and Ukraine.
Politics, the judicial system and the police have
been identified as the sectors that are most affected by
corruption but, for example, bribery also exists in
other areas such as education and health care.
Moldova is still licking the wounds after the big
scandal revealed in 2015 when the country's banks paid
out the equivalent of 12 percent of the country's GDP to
unknown people's accounts and a former prime minister
was sent to prison for a longer period (see Current
Judicial system and legal security
Compared to other European countries, Moldova's legal
system is under-rated by the World Justice Project. In
the latest survey, Moldova is ranked 83 in the company
of countries such as Vietnam, El Salvador and China. Of
the countries in Europe, only Russia receives a worse
placement than Moldova.
According to the Constitution, the judiciary should
be independent, but in fact judges, prosecutors and
lawyers have a hard time doing a job well due to
systematic corruption, lack of resources and pressure
from political ends. It seems that people are brought to
justice and sentenced for political reasons - to be
silenced. This applies, for example, to human rights
You cannot count on getting a fair trial or the help
of a competent legal counsel. Often, negotiations are
done with closed doors, even against the will of the
accused. Attorneys have complained that they do not have
enough time to prepare a case and that it can be
difficult to meet clients. It has also happened that the
accused is not even allowed to attend his own trial.
Overcrowding and poor sanitary conditions
characterize the entire prison system. Prisoners are
harassed, beaten and in some cases tortured by police
and prison guards. Moldova has been sentenced in total
to at least 20 occasions in the European Court of
Justice for violating the torture ban in the European
The death penalty was abolished in 2006 and has not
been applied since independence.
As far as the Transnistrian breakaway republic is
concerned, the situation for human rights is generally
considered even worse than in Moldova (see TRANSNISTRIEN: