Moldova – annual report 2020

Strategic Framework 

Legal Policy Starting Point 

When the previous government coalition was ousted by a vote of no confidence after only a few months in power, a new government alliance consisting of the Socialist Party (PSRM) and the Democratic Party (PDM) was formed in late November 2019. The parties concluded a coalition agreement in March 2020. Immediately afterwards, the government felt compelled to declare a state of emergency for an extended period in view of the risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic Moldova’s situation was further aggravated by unfavourable external factors such as declining remittances from abroad. These are money transfers made by migrants to families and friends who have remained in their home country. They are an effective way for a low-income country like Moldova to increase the income of the population. Dealing with the pandemic crisis has consumed considerable resources and administrative capacities, slowing down the necessary legal and judicial reforms. The presidential elections in November 2020 required two rounds of voting and once again reflected the country’s typical geopolitical divide between pro-Russian and pro-Western tendencies. Maia Sandu, the former head of government and a pro-Western politician, emerged as the election winner.

Overall Concept 

IRZ has advised its Moldovan partner institutions on administrative law reform for more than ten years. Ongoing cooperation has focused on implementation ever since the Administrative Code with material and procedural regulations came into force in 2019. An exchange of experience on the practical application of this code was held between judges as part of an online workshop. During this event, focused discussions developed between the Vice-President of the Supreme Court, 15 judges of the Rîșcani Local Court and a representative of the Superior Council of Magistrates. In addition to various further training events, the participating experts from Germany also prepared a guide on administrative law. This was translated into Moldovan and is now used as a practical aid in the application of this area of law, which remains fairly unknown in Moldova.

Focus of Activity in 2020 

Public Law

  • Online workshop for judges on the implementation of the Administrative Code in Chișinău
  • Completion of the training guide on the Administrative Code

Projects funded by the European Union 

EU Technical Assistance Project: “Support to the police reform in the Republic of Moldova”

IRZ has been involved in implementing the project since late 2018 under the leadership of the Belgian partner B&S EUROPE. Endowed with a project budget of almost € 3.7 million and scheduled to run for 38 months, the EU project seeks to harmonise the work of the police force in Moldova in line with both international and EU standards. The project work focuses on the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the General Police Directorate as the beneficiary authorities.

The desired reform efforts aim to increase efficiency, transparency and professionalism within the police force. Specifically, this involves supporting a transparent selection and promotion process, improving basic and further training of police officers, police enforcement work, inter-agency cooperation, as well as supporting the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the General Police Directorate in public relations and awareness-raising and in internal planning and budgeting processes.

A Moldovan police delegation visited GPEC®, a trade fair for police and security authorities in Frankfurt am Main, at the beginning of the 2020 reporting year. The delegation attended meetings, workshops, symposia, training courses and testing of police equipment. This allowed the Moldovan participants to make contact with dealers and organisations and to obtain information about the latest technical advancements and equipment.

In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the project quickly switched many activities to an online format and by doing so was able to remain largely on schedule. By the end of the year, however, it had become evident that participants were growing tired of virtual events and the project team consequently made reasonable efforts to meet the need for physical meetings and formats as far as this was possible.

EU Twinning: “Capacity Building of the National Centre for Personal Data Protection of the Republic of Moldova”

This Twinning Project ended in January 2020 after 27 months: its purpose had been to support the National Centre for Personal Data Protection of the Republic of Moldova (NCPDP) in harmonising personal data protection in line with the EU legal framework and standards. The project was successfully implemented under the leadership of IRZ, together with the Latvian Ministry of Justice as junior partner. Besides aligning national legislation in the area of personal data protection with the EU acquis, including the General Data Protection Regulation and EU Directive 2016/680, the project aimed to assist NCPDP and other relevant institutions in the implementation of these measures and to raise awareness for data protection issues within the general public and among persons entrusted with reviewing and transmitting data. In keeping with these requirements, a new law on personal data protection was drafted and employees of NCPDP and other authorities and institutions were trained and familiarised with the EU regulations.

Although the NCPDP was impeded in its work by the COVID-19 pandemic, it continued to conduct further training activities after the end of the project, organised a number of workshops and also participated in various online seminars on personal data protection. Another objective of the project was to instil in the population a better awareness of data protection and to show the role of NCPDP in a positive light. The fact that the project’s communication measures have shown a lasting and positive impact is demonstrated not least by the increased traffic on NCPDP’s new website, which was created as part of the project, providing users with up-to-date information on data protection topics and the work of NCPDP.

Outlook

For the EU project on police reform, which will run until the end of 2021, IRZ will continue to implement its activities. IRZ will review continuation of the cooperation in close consultation with the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection.

Moldova - annual report 2019

Fourth further training measure in Chişinău to implement the Administrative Code: IRZ expert Georg Schmidt, President of the Trier Administrative Court, in discussion with the participants
Fourth further training measure in Chişinău to implement the Administrative Code: IRZ expert Georg Schmidt, President of the Trier Administrative Court, in discussion with the participants

Strategic Framework

Legal Policy Starting Point

Three years after the EU Association Agreement with the extended and comprehensive free trade area entered into force, Moldova still lacks political stability and has not achieved the long-awaited prosperity. Political corruption and a society burdened by poverty are still the order of the day in the country, which is located between the tense political poles of Russia and Europe. Important political events in 2019 were the parliamentary elections on 24 February, which led to replacement of the previously ruling Democratic Party. Three months after the parliamentary elections, the pro-European block ACUM and the pro-Russian Socialist Party (PSRM) formed an alliance to oppose the country‘s oligarch after protracted negotiations. In spring, the Moldovan parliament elected Maia Sandu of ACUM as the new prime minister in a dramatic vote, against the declared will of the Constitutional Court. After the governing coalition was dismissed by a vote of no confidence in midNovember 2019 following just a short period in office, the Socialist Party (PSRM) and the Democratic Party (PDM) quickly formed a new government under Prime Minister Ion Chicu on 14 November 2019. The uncertain political situation and the many personnel changes in the judicial field also led to delays in IRZ‘s cooperation with Moldova after the elections. It remains to be seen whether and how the new government will continue the reform plans set out by Prime Minister Sandu‘s former government.

Overall Concept

IRZ began its activities in the Republic of Moldova in 2005 and since then has accompanied Moldovan partner institutions during sweeping judicial reforms. IRZ partners in Moldova include the Parliament, the Ministry of Justice, the Supreme Court, the Department of Penitentiary Institutions, the Association of Judges, the Supreme Judicial Council and the Academy of Public Administration. IRZ has also worked with the Constitutional Court in the past.

Administrative law reform has been an important priority of IRZ‘s work in Moldova for a long time. The Administrative Code, which consists of an administrative procedural law and administrative court procedure law section, entered into force on 1 April 2019 after more than ten years of intensive consultations. The Administrative Code provides for the establishment of specialised chambers within the ordinary courts. Implementation of the Code will focus on the basic and further training of future administrative judges, civil servants and students. But there is still a need for long-term counselling in this field.

Counselling on the draft legislation on penitentiary institutions in the Republic of Moldova is another priority. Over the course of various conclaves, IRZ was able to give final advice to the working group on the draft legislation so that it could be submitted to the Moldovan government for appraisal. However, no action has been taken thus far due to the domestic political situation.

In addition, IRZ has provided advice to support reforms of criminal procedure law in Moldova for a long time. But this work has also remained gridlocked for the political reasons outlined above. Due to existing deficits in the application of the law, IRZ also supports approaches to improve judicial procedures and efforts to increase the transparency and quality of court rulings.

Focus of Activity in 2019

Civil and Commercial Law

  • Trilateral working visit to Berlin on consumer protection (for Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus)
  • Preparation of a manual on relational and judgement techniques in civil proceedings Public Law
  • Four consecutive training measures in Chişinău in order to implement the Administrative Code
  • Development of a further training guide on the Administrative Code
  • Opinion on the amendments to the Administrative Code

Criminal Law and Penitentiary Law

  • Written assessment and translation of the new draft legislation on penitentiary institutions
  • Conclave in Chişinău on the reform of the penitentiary law
  • Practical basic training measure for employees of the admission departments that will be established in Goian
  • Continuation of the conclave in Chişinău on the reform of the penitentiary law
  • Initial counselling of the investigation commission and the working group in Chişinău on the methodology of the investigation report
  • Discussion and advice on the interim result of the report by the investigation commission in Chişinău

Projects funded by the European Union

EU Technical Assistance Project: Support to the Police Reform in the Republic of Moldova

Since the end of 2018, IRZ has been involved in the implementation of the project “Support to the Police Reform in the Republic of Moldova“ under the leadership of its Belgian partner B&S. Equipped with a project budget of almost €3.7 million and a term of 38 months, the project aims to align police work in Moldova with EU and international standards. The project work focuses on the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Central Police Directorate as beneficiary authorities.

Aims of the Project

  • Improvement in the efficiency, transparency and professionalism of the police force
  • Support for transparent selection and promotion procedures
  • Improvement in the basic and further training of police officers
  • Improvement in police enforcement
  • Improvement in collaboration between authorities
  • Support for the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Central Police Directorate in public relations and investigations, as well as in internal budgeting and planning procedures

Efforts to improve the police system continued, despite the above-mentioned domestic political turmoil and the resulting multiple changes in the leadership at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Moldovan Central Police Directorate. Within the framework of the project, around 20 training sessions and 67 workshops have taken place so far, reaching a total of 1,117 participants.

A Moldovan police delegation visited Germany and Austria in November 2019. The participants of the study trip had the opportunity to gain insight into the structure, organisation and work of, among others, the Austrian Police Academy and a Bavarian police headquarters at various working meetings. In the same month, high-ranking officials from the National AntiCorruption Centre, the Public Prosecutor‘s Office for Combating Corruption and other institutions visited the Finnish Ministry of Justice and the General Prosecutor‘s Office as part of a study visit to Finland.

EU Twinning Project: Capacity Building of the National Centre for Personal Data Protection of the Republic of Moldova

The project, which ends in January 2020 after a three-month extension and therefore reached a total term of 27 months, was successfully implemented by IRZ together with the Latvian Ministry of Justice as junior partner. The aim of the project was to support the National Centre for Data Protection of the Republic of Moldova (NCPDP) in bringing personal data protection and privacy in line with the EU legal framework and standards. The project was divided into three components:

  • Harmonisation of national legislation in the field of personal data protection with EU Acquis, including the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation and EU Directive 2016/680
  • Support of the NCPDP and other relevant institutions in the implementation of the new Data Protection Act
  • Raising awareness within the general public and among persons who verify and process data

The measures initiated last year in the three components were brought to a successful conclusion in the reporting year. Together with the Moldovan partners, the experts involved in the project developed recommendations for the adaptation of various laws and, in workshops and seminars, drew up a strategic plan for the protection of personal data and the further development of the NCPDP until 2024. Not only the NCPDP staff, but also employees of other authorities that deal with the issue of data protection were familiarised with the EU requirements in numerous further training seminars. In this way, the project reached many members of the Moldovan public administration. To gain insight into the practical implementation of data protection in the European partner states, Moldovan parliamentarians visited Germany and Latvia in September. As part of the study trip, they held expert talks at the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, the German Bundestag, the Office of the Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, the Federal Ministry of the Interior, for Building and Homeland Affairs, the Latvian Parliament and the Latvian Data Protection Authority.

In 2019, the project partners cooperated closely with the NCPDP to develop materials to raise awareness within the Moldovan population for issues of data protection and personal data and to inform them about their rights in this regard. In this context, the NCPDP‘s website was also redesigned to suit the needs of the target group and to improve its ease of use

Outlook

As soon as it is clear which reforms the new Moldovan government intends to pursue, IRZ will examine whether and how it can continue to support its Moldovan partners in these reforms over 2020. Although the three-phase seminars for training Moldovan legal practitioners on the new Administrative Code were successfully completed, there is likely to be a continuing need for training of the target groups. Provided that the reforms of criminal procedural law and penitentiary law continue, IRZ intends to build on the work that has been done so far. The same applies to the issues of consumer protection and policy to combat corruption. Finally, the training of the staff of the admission departments in the prisons remains a priority as well. Admission departments are an important element of the strategy paper on the development of the penitentiary system until 2020 presented by the Moldovan Ministry of Justice in April 2017.

 

Moldova - annual report 2018

High-level delegation from the Republic of Moldova visiting Berlin after adoption of the Administrative Code: Raisa Apolschii, Member of Parliament, Chair of the Committee on Legal Affairs in the Moldovan Parliament, Ion Druţă, President of the Supreme Court, Christiane Wirtz, State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, Igor Vremea, Member of Parliament, Member of the Committee on Legal Affairs (at the front, from left to right)
High-level delegation from the Republic of Moldova visiting Berlin after adoption of the Administrative Code: Raisa Apolschii, Member of Parliament, Chair of the Committee on Legal Affairs in the Moldovan Parliament, Ion Druţă, President of the Supreme Court, Christiane Wirtz, State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, Igor Vremea, Member of Parliament, Member of the Committee on Legal Affairs (at the front, from left to right)

Strategic Framework

Legal Policy Starting Point

The EU Association Agreement that entered into force in July 2016 provides the foundation for the reforms that are necessary for a European integration of the Republic of Moldova, although stronger indications of a rapprochement with Russia have returned since election of the Moldovan State President in 2016. Of particular significance in this regard are operative instruments that promote democracy and rule of law, as well as mechanisms to strengthen the independence of the judiciary and to prevent corruption through transparent and effective criminal prosecution, also and especially in cases such as the bank scandal that has been smouldering since 2014. Moreover, it is important to ensure the greater involvement of civil organisations, particularly those with young legal professionals. Legal and judicial reforms are especially challenging for all stakeholders in this complex and multi-layered political situation. Originally scheduled for late 2018, parliamentary elections are now planned in spring 2019. It remains to be seen whether these elections will provide impetus for reforms.

Overall Concept

Within this situation, the IRZ uses the available methods of technical counselling and suitable further training of all legal professionals in an attempt to support legal and judicial reforms in the Republic of Moldova and in doing so to contribute to strengthening the rule of law. Cooperation during the reporting year prioritised the fields of administrative procedure law and administrative court procedure law, including the introduction of administrative court jurisdiction integrated within the jurisdiction of the ordinary courts, reform of criminal procedure law and, in consequence, of penitentiary law. An Administrative Code, comprising a general part, an administrative procedure law part and an administrative court procedure law part, was adopted in 2018 and will enter into force on 1 April 2019 after more than ten years of cooperation. Among the priorities of the IRZ‘s work will be to provide basic and further training for the future administrative judges, as well as civil servants and students. Counselling on the reform of criminal procedure law has not yet been completed and will be continued, while advice on penitentiary law is in its early stages. The strategy paper developed by the Moldovan Ministry of Justice in 2016 set out systematic reform ideas for the period from 2016 to 2020. The IRZ has been asked to provide technical assistance in this regard. A new penitentiary administration act entered into force in June 2018. In addition, the law on penitentiary system requires amendment. The IRZ also cooperates in EU projects in the Republic of Moldova, in which it attempts to provide technical support for legal and judicial reforms and to ensure they reach a successful conclusion.

Foci of Activity in 2018

Civil and Commercial Law

  • Conference on the Moldovan Civil Code with the State University in Chişinău
  • Preparation of a manual on relational and judgement technique

Administration of Justice

  • Conference on the current status of notarial law in Moldova and on the establishment of a Chamber of Notaries in Chişinău

Criminal Law and Penitentiary Law

  • Third working meeting in Chişinău to discuss the prepared textual amendments of the Moldovan Code of Criminal Procedure
  • Expert talks on the legislative amendments in criminal procedure law with a wider professional audience in Chişinău
  • Practical further training in Chişinău on the efficient investigation of white-collar crime involving offshore companies, prioritising undercover investigation measures
  • Basic training for penitentiary staff at the intake department in Gojan
  • Conclave and expert talk in Chişinău to discuss the new draft legislation for Moldovan penitentiary law
  • Conference in Chişinău by the General Prosecutor’s Office on the role of the criminal prosecution authorities

Public Law

  • Expert talk on the third part of the Administrative Code (administrative court procedure law) in Chişinău
  • Working visit by a Moldovan delegation to the administrative court jurisdiction in Berlin and Leipzig
  • National conference in Chişinău attended by members of the legal professions to mark adoption of the Moldovan Administrative Code
  • First further training measure in Chişinău to implement the Administrative Code
  • Second further training measure in Chişinău to implement the Administrative Code

Basic and Further Training

  • Study trip by young lawyers to Bonn and Cologne on the issue of “Basics of the judicial system in Germany“, organised in cooperation with the Hanns Seidel Foundation
  • Research trip in Cologne and Düsseldorf by a Board member of the Moldovan NGO Invento to study the resocialisation of criminal adolescents
  • Further training seminar for Moldovan public prosecutors in the field of press and media, organised in cooperation with the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) in Chişinău, Bălţi and Cahul.
  • Seminar on legislation technique in cooperation with the Hanns Seidel Foundation during the second Youth Parliament in Chişinău

Projects funded by the European Union

EU Technical Assistance project: Support to the Police Reform in the Republic of Moldova

Working under the Belgian lead partner B&S, the IRZ has been involved in implementing the project “Support to the Police Reform in the Republic of Moldova“ since October 2018. The project is scheduled to run for 38 months and has a budget of just over €2.7 million. The aim is to harmonise the work of the Moldovan police force with European and international standards. Work focuses on the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the General Inspectorate of Police as the beneficiary authorities. The content of the project builds in some areas on the project “Support to the Pre-Trial Investigation, Prosecution and Defence Set-Up“, which the IRZ implemented as lead organisation until early 2017.

The project focuses on the following areas, among others: increasing the efficiency, transparency and professionalism of the police force; support for a transparent recruitment and promotions procedure; improvements in the basic and further training of police officers and police enforcement as well as cooperation between the agencies; support for the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the General Inspectorate of Police in public relations and education; as well as internal planning and budgeting procedures.

EU Twinning project: Capacity Building of the National Centre for Personal Data Protection of the Republic of Moldova

This Twinning project has been implemented by the IRZ and the Latvian Ministry of Justice as junior partner since October 2017. Scheduled to run for 24 months, the project has a total budget of €1 million.

It seeks to support the National Centre for Data Protection of the Republic of Moldova (NCPDP) in the harmonisation of personal data protection and privacy with the legal frameworks and standards that apply in the EU. They have changed fundamentally since introduction of the EU General Data Protection Regulation in May 2018. Moreover, attempts are under way to safeguard the sharing of data between EU Member States and the Republic of Moldova, among other things by implementing EU Directive 2016/680 on the processing of personal data.

The project is divided into three components, in which the following objectives were achieved during the reporting year:

  • Harmonisation of national legislation in the field of personal data protection with EU Acquis | A new law for the protection of personal data was drafted following a comparative analysis. Planned adoption of this draft legislation in Moldovan law is intended to place the future work of the NCPDP on a solid legal footing. This is an important precondition for the exchange of personal data between Moldova and the EU Member States.
  • Support of the NCPDP and other relevant institutions in the implementation of the new Data Protection Act | The necessary measures will continue in the second half of the project. This will include familiarising the NCPDP staff with investigative and complaints procedures.
  • Raising awareness within the general public and among persons who verify and process data | Communication measures designed for the general public, further training and workshops for the private sector, media and NCPDP staff are intended to help convey a positive impression of the NCPDP‘s role in the country and to raise awareness for the issue of data protection in general. Events are also planned to take place in the regions as a means of addressing the widest possible audience. It is imperative that the various stakeholders enjoy trust and acceptance within Moldovan society in order to ensure that the work of the NCPDP is successful and to foster the sustainability of the project.

Outlook

The further training measures for legal professionals to implement the Administrative Code will continue in 2019. Necessary advice on the Code of Criminal Procedure, especially further training seminars on criminal procedure law, will also extend into the new year. Cooperation with the Moldovan Department of Penitentiary Institutions will be expanded within the framework of the strategy paper for reform of the penitentiary system and will, in future, include counselling on draft legislation and progressive execution of sentence. Moreover, the IRZ will make efforts to rebuild its earlier cooperation with Moldovan partners on lawyers‘ notarial law. The practical further training of judges at civil and criminal courts, possibly also the Constitutional Court, will be continued as well in order to increase the quality and transparency of adjudications.