Statement by Senior UN Human Rights Expert Thomas Hammarberg on the conclusion of his visit on 28 May – 1 June 2018

On 28 May – 1 June 2018 I have visited the Republic of Moldova, where I had meetings with decision-makers, civil society, development partners and other actors on both banks of Nistru-river. This visit comes as a follow-up to my 2013 Report, which provided 38 specific recommendations in 13 different areas covering a broad range of human rights issues in the Transnistrian region. I have visited institutions and facilities in Tiraspol, Bender and Ribnita. 

I am pleased to note a growing human rights awareness in the Transnistrian region. In several key areas such as: rights of persons with disabilities and prevention and treatment of HIV and tuberculosis, the situation has generally improved. Changes in perception of disability and in acknowledgment of the rights of persons with disabilities are noticeable. Emergence of a vibrant civil society platform of persons with disabilities, as well as successful initiatives on increasing accessibility of public buildings and spaces, are among the positive developments that are worth commending.

Conditions for identification and treatment of HIV and tuberculosis in prisons have improved significantly. Plans for consolidation of healthcare facilities within one specialized penitentiary institution present a good opportunity for overall improvement of healthcare service provided to persons in detention.

Broadening acknowledgement of domestic violence as a human rights violation can be observed. Launching of temporary crisis centre and shelter for victims of domestic violence, as well as ongoing construction of a permanent facility give hope for further progress in prevention and combatting of domestic violence.

More and stronger voices of civil society have been heard during my follow-up visit, thus substantially improving the level of information and the quality of public dialogue around the outstanding human rights issues.

Political negotiations – bilateral, as well as in the “5+2” format – have advanced and brought resolution to some important human rights matters stemming from my 2013 Report, such as the apostilization of diplomas and the functioning of Moldovan Latin-script schools on the left bank.

It is essential to build on the positive momentum and systematize the efforts leading to full protection and promotion of human rights on both banks of Nistru-river. Human rights dimension should be even more prominently embedded into the Transnistrian settlement process.

All these aspects of progress are welcome. However, further improvements are required in order to address some of the outstanding challenges and issues, on which I will elaborate in my forthcoming follow-up report.

Development of a Transnistrian human rights action plan, strengthening human rights institutions and mechanisms, collection of disaggregated data, promotion of human rights education and work with mass media to bolster human rights culture are be key pre-requisites for substantial improvement of the human rights situation. It is crucial that police officers, healthcare workers, teachers and other key professionals are well capacitated to perform their roles and functions and ensure full protection and promotion of human rights. Positive and constructive engagement with civil society is of key importance for achieving these objectives.

High rates of arrest and imprisonment, as well as conditions in detention, remain an important area of concern.

Women experience inequalities in social, economic and political life, and domestic violence is still widely spread.

Several more reforms in the area of persons with disabilities are required, including on disability determination mechanism, inclusive education, legal capacity, deinstitutionalization reforms, etc.

The situation of Roma people is grave and very worrisome. Many Roma are illiterate, undocumented and poor. Many Roma girls and boys are marginalized in kindergartens and schools and the school dropout rate is very high. Most Roma are unemployed, and many of those who are employed are discriminated at the workplace. Many Roma live in poor houses, without electricity or gas, water and sanitation. Majority of Roma people have no access to quality and affordable healthcare services. Aged Roma with disabilities and Roma women are among the most affected.  

Space for NGOs should be widened and strengthened. There is a concern among some of our interlocutors from civil society about the consequences and future interpretation of the latest regulatory provisions concerning NGOs.

I will bring my findings to the attention of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and to the broader United Nations system and will encourage their active engagement in the implementation of the recommended actions.