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TITLE:  MOLDOVA HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE:  FEBRUARY 1995









                            MOLDOVA


Moldova, independent from the Soviet Union since 1991, adopted 
a new Constitution on August 27 which provides for a multiparty 
representative government with power divided among a directly 
elected president, the Cabinet, Parliament, and the judiciary.  
The first multiparty elections were held in February; 
independent observers considered them generally free and fair.  
The Democratic Agrarian Party achieved a slight majority and 
formed the new Government with Andrei Sangheli as Prime 
Minister, a post he has held since 1992.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs has responsibility for the 
police, who continue to employ beatings in dealing with some 
detainees and prisoners.  The Ministry of National Security 
controls the security organs.  The Constitution assigns to 
Parliament the authority to investigate the activities of these 
Ministries to ensure they comply with legislation in effect, 
and it did so on several occasions.  There are credible 
accusations that security forces monitor political opposition 
members and use unauthorized wiretaps.  Opposition parties 
claimed that Security Ministry officials in some cases 
interfered with opposition activities during the election 
campaign.  No public investigation of these charges took place.

Moldova made considerable progress in economic reform in 1994.  
A privatization program based on vouchers issued to all 
citizens is under way.  Approximately 35 percent of enterprises 
will be privatized for vouchers.  However, the economy is 
largely based on agriculture, and agricultural privatization 
continues to lag behind.  Approximately 75 percent of 
collective farms have become joint stock companies, with 
ownership documents being issued to collective farmers.  In 
addition, over 12,000 Moldovans have claimed land and are 
farming privately.

The new Constitution improved protection for basic human rights 
but incorporated language potentially limiting the activities 
of political parties and the press, especially Article 32, 
which forbids "contesting or defaming the State and the 
people," and Article 41, which declares unconstitutional 
parties that militate against the sovereignty, independence, 
and territorial integrity of Moldova.  Interethnic relations 
improved as the new Parliament delayed the implementation of 
the controversial testing for competence in the state language 
Romanian (Moldovan), which many members of the minorities do 
not speak.  The new Constitution guarantees parents the right 
to choose the language of education for their children, 
addressing another minority concern.  Based on evaluations from 
the Council of Europe and the Conference on Security and 
Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), the Parliament liberalized the 
restrictive draft press law under consideration, addressing 
many of the concerns of journalists regarding the initial 
draft.  A draft "concept" of judicial reform, which would 
strengthen judicial independence, was approved, but many new 
laws needed to implement the concept were not enacted in 1994.

Moldova remained divided, with mostly Slavic separatists still 
controlling the Transdniester region.  This separatist 
movement, led by a pro-Soviet group, entered negotiations with 
the Government on the possibility of a special political status 
for the region.  Progress was blocked, however, by the 
separatists' demands for "statehood" and the creation of a 
confederation of two equal states.  The CSCE and the Russian 
Federation acted as mediators.  There are continuing credible 
reports that Transdniester authorities committed human rights 
abuses, although the scale of serious abuses is much smaller 
than in 1992.  The two sides generally observed the cease-fire 
of July 1992, which ended armed conflict between them.  In 
December Parliament passed a law according increased local 
autonomy to the region in the south inhabited largely by the 
Gagauz (Christian Turkic) minority.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1                           Respect for the Integrity 
                                    of the Person, Including 
                                    Freedom from:

    a.   Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

In the Transdniester region controlled by separatist forces, an 
attempt was made in March to kill a controversial prosecutor, 
Boris Lucik.  Lucik's wife and bodyguard were killed in the 
attempt, and Lucik was seriously injured.  It is not known who 
perpetrated the act; some sources accuse organized crime 
groups, while others accuse political opponents within the 
separatist regime.  There were no other reports of politically 
motivated killings.  Information from the Transdniester region 
is, however, limited.

    b.   Disappearance

There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.

    c.   Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

There were no allegations of torture of civil or criminal 
prisoners by Moldovan authorities in 1994, but there were 
credible reports that police sometimes beat prisoners or 
suspects in their custody.

In the Transdniester region, four Moldovans, whose trial was 
criticized by international human rights organizations, 
complained of mistreatment, including beatings and use of 
psychoactive drugs by authorities.  Their treatment improved 
somewhat in 1994, and they were permitted more regular access 
to their families.  Two other members of this group were 
released in 1994.  One publicly stated that his evidence at the 
trial implicating the others had been the result of beatings 
and intimidation while in the custody of separatist authorities 
(see Section 1.e.).  The International Committee of the Red 
Cross (ICRC), which visited Ilie Ilascu on two occasions (1992, 
1993) in Tiraspol (Transdniester region), was denied the 
possibility to repeat such visits, despite numerous 
representations to the Tiraspol authorities.

Prisoners complained of extremely harsh conditions in prisons, 
including inadequate sanitation, medical care, and food 
supplies.  Prisoners also reported, credibly, that jailers did 
not intervene to prevent some prisoners from abusing others.  
In September parliamentarians formed a special commission to 
investigate charges of misconduct toward prisoners and 
detainees.

    d.   Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The former Soviet Code on Penal Procedure remains in force with 
some amendments.  Prosecutors, rather than judges, issue arrest 
warrants.  Under the new Constitution, a suspect may be 
detained without charge for 24 hours (previously, detention of 
72 hours was permitted).  The suspect is normally allowed 
family visits during this period.  The 72-hour time limit 
appeared to be generally respected; it is too soon to judge 
whether the new time limit is respected as well.  If charged, a 
suspect may be released pending trial.  There is no system of 
bail, but in some cases a friend or relative, in order to 
arrange release, may give a written undertaking that the 
accused will appear for trial.

Suspects accused of violent or serious crimes are generally not 
released before trial.  The Criminal Code permitted pretrial 
detention for up to 18 months at the prosecutor's discretion.  
The new Constitution permits pretrial arrest for an initial 
period of 30 days, which may be extended to 6 months.  Although 
arrest warrants are still issued by a prosecutor, the accused 
has the right under the new Constitution to a hearing before a 
court regarding the legality of his arrest.  In exceptional 
cases, Parliament may approve extension of pretrial detention 
on an individual basis up to 12 months.

According to the new Constitution, a detained person must be 
informed immediately of the reason for his arrest, and he must 
be made aware of charges against him "as quickly as possible."  
The accused is provided the right to a defense attorney 
throughout the entire process, and the attorney must be present 
when the charges are brought.

    e.   Denial of Fair Public Trial

The independence of the judiciary has increased since the 
dissolution of the Soviet Union.  The draft "concept" on 
judicial reform approved by Parliament moves toward further 
consolidating this independence but still falls short of 
providing a legal framework guaranteeing independence.  The new 
Constitution provides that the President, on the nomination of 
an expert judicial body, the Superior Council of Magistrates, 
appoints judges for an initial period of 5 years.  They may be 
reappointed for a subsequent 10 years, after which they serve 
until retirement age.  The fact that judges may not be removed 
during their period of service should contribute to the 
independence of the judiciary.

While the proposed judicial reform would establish regional 
courts and an appeals court, the current structure has only two 
levels:  local courts on the city or district level, and the 
Supreme Court, which acts as an appellate court.  By law, 
defendants in criminal cases are presumed innocent.  In 
practice, prosecutors' recommendations still carry considerable 
weight and limit defendants' right to a presumption of 
innocence.

Generally, trials are open to the public.  Defendants have the 
right to attend proceedings, confront witnesses, and present 
evidence.  Defense attorneys are able to review the evidence 
against their clients when preparing their cases.  The accused 
enjoys a right to appeal to the Supreme Court.  In a number of 
cases, decisions of the lower court were overturned on appeal.

Members of the Russian-speaking minority have expressed concern 
that they will not receive equal treatment before the courts.  
To date, no pattern of discrimination has emerged in the 
judicial system.  The new Constitution guarantees the right of 
the accused to have an interpreter both at the trial and in 
reviewing the documents in the case.  If the majority of 
participants agree, trials may take place in Russian or another 
acceptable language instead of Romanian/Moldovan.

There continue to be credible reports that local prosecutors 
have brought unjustified charges against individuals in 
retribution for accusations of official corruption, or for 
political reasons.

In 1994 a small group of former Russian army soldiers were 
convicted of a series of auto thefts.  Some ethnic Russian 
groups alleged that they did not receive a fair trial and that 
their treatment in detention and their sentences were unduly 
harsh.  The soldiers appealed their convictions, but the 
Supreme Court let the sentences stand.

In the Transdniester region, four Moldovans, members of the 
"Tiraspol Six," remain in prison following their conviction in 
1993 for allegedly assassinating two separatist officials.  Two 
were released during 1994.  International human rights groups 
raised serious questions about the fairness of the trial, and 
local organizations alleged that the Moldovans were prosecuted 
solely because of their membership in the Christian Democratic 
Popular Front, a Moldovan party that favors reunification with 
Romania (see Section 1.c.).

    f.   Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
         Correspondence

According to the 1990 police law, prosecutors, rather than 
judges, issue search warrants.  There have been numerous 
instances in which searches were conducted without warrants, 
and courts do not exclude evidence that was illegally 
obtained.  There is no judicial review of search warrants.

The new Constitution specifies that searches must be carried 
out "in accordance with law" but does not specify the 
consequences if the law is not respected.  It also forbids 
searches at night, except in the case of flagrant crime.

Opponents of the Government continue to claim that security 
forces monitored and harassed them, especially during the 
election campaign.  It is widely believed that the security 
forces continued to use electronic monitoring of residences and 
telephones in some cases, although confirmation of such 
activities is lacking.  By law, the prosecutor's office must 
authorize wiretaps and may do so only if a criminal 
investigation is under way.  In practice, the prosecutor's 
office lacks the ability to control the security organs and 
police and prevent them from using wiretaps illegally.

Section 2                           Respect for Civil 
                                    Liberties, Including:

    a.   Freedom of Speech and Press

Freedom of speech is not abridged, and the print media express 
a wide variety of political views and commentary.  National and 
city governments own most newspapers, but political parties and 
professional organizations, including trade unions, also 
publish newspapers.

Several independent radio stations began operation in 1994, 
including at least one religiously oriented station.  The 
Government continues to control television (except for the 
increasingly popular cable television stations) as well as the 
major radio stations.

While the Government does not engage in censorship, journalists 
complain that editors encourage them to soften criticisms of 
government officials in order to avoid confrontation and 
possible retribution.  In 1994 the state-run Television and 
Radio Company dismissed a number of employees, citing the need 
to reduce staff in view of budget restrictions.  Many 
employees, alleging that they were dismissed for their 
political beliefs, appealed to the courts and were reinstated.  
Some press organs are making use of the new possibilities for 
free expression.  The city paper of Chisinau, for example, 
published several articles critical of police activities; while 
the Ministry of Internal Affairs responded with an angry and 
critical rebuttal, there have been no reprisals by year's end  
against the newspaper.

Parliament considered a new law on the press which journalists 
strongly criticized because it would have limited their right 
to criticize government policies.  Although Parliament approved 
the draft on the first reading, it later adopted a redrafted 
version of the law taking into account recommendations from the 
Council of Europe and the CSCE, although the draft retains 
language forbidding "contesting or defaming the State or the 
people" (restrictions also contained in the new Constitution).  
This restriction appears to be aimed at journalists publishing 
material in favor of reunification with Romania and questioning 
the legal right of the Republic of Moldova to exist.

The Government does not restrict foreign publications.  Western 
publications do not circulate widely since they are very 
expensive by local standards.  Romanian and Russian 
publications have also become rather more difficult to obtain 
due to expense.  Moldova receives television and radio 
broadcasts from Romania and Russia.

In the separatist Transdniester region, the authorities cut off 
financial support for two newspapers which had occasionally 
been critical of some policies and formed a new "official" 
newspaper.  In the separatist "capital" Tiraspol, the 
independent cable television station Asket came under pressure 
from authorities, taking the form of attacks on the premises 
and cut cables, because it broadcast reports critical of the 
separatist authorities.

    b.   Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The law protects the right to peaceful assembly.  The mayor's 
office generally issues permits for demonstrations; it may 
consult the national Government if the demonstration is likely 
to be extremely large.

In 1994 the Government refused permission for opposition 
parties to use the large central square in front of the 
government buildings for several demonstrations.  They issued 
permits for a nearby park or other central locations instead.   
Officials threatened to take one opposition leader to court 
when a demonstration moved closer to the government buildings 
than was authorized but took no action by year's end.  In 
October opposition parties demonstrated in the central square 
despite the lack of permission; no action was taken against 
demonstrators.

Private organizations, including political parties, are 
required to register, but applications are handled routinely.

    c.   Freedom of Religion

The practice of religion is generally free.  Parliament passed 
a law on religion in 1992 which codified religious freedoms, 
although it contained restrictions that could inhibit the 
activities of some religious groups.  The law guarantees 
freedom of religious practice, including each person's right to 
profess his religion in any form.  It also provides for 
alternative military service for conscientious objectors, 
protects the secrets of the confessional, allows denominations 
to establish associations and foundations, and states that the 
Government may not interfere in the religious activities of 
denominations.  The law, however, also requires that religious 
groups register with the Government in order to function and 
that denominations obtain specific government approval to hire 
noncitizens.  The law also prohibits proselytizing.

Some Protestant denominations are concerned that the 
prohibition on proselytism could inhibit their activities, 
although many denominations hold large revival meetings 
apparently without official interference.  To date, the 
authorities have taken no legal action against individuals for 
proselytizing, despite a substantial amount of such activity.

Although Eastern Orthodoxy is not designated as the official 
religion of Moldova in the law on religion, it continued to be 
the strongest religious force and exerted significant 
influence.  The Government still refused to register the 
"Metropolitanate of Bessarabia--Old Style," which broke away 
from the Moldovan Orthodox Church, under the authority of the 
Patriarch of Moscow, to adhere to the Romanian Orthodox Church 
in 1992.  The Government cites unresolved problems connected to 
the new church's property claims as the principal reason it 
cannot register the group.  Priests who have joined this church 
have credibly alleged that local authorities have sometimes 
harassed them and have taken no action to prevent their 
harassment by priests who remained loyal to the majority 
church.

Protestant groups have increased their ties with coreligionists 
abroad; foreign missionaries are also established in Moldova.  
Eighteen denominations are registered and active in Moldova, 
including Baha'i, followers of Krishna, and Jehovah's 
Witnesses--groups that had been denied registration in the 
past.  The Salvation Army, however, has not been able to 
register as a religious denomination because it does not meet 
the requirement of having a Moldovan citizen as the 
organization's legal head.  It has also been unable to register 
as a social organization.

The Jewish community, although small, remained very active in 
1994.  Jewish leaders report that their relations with the 
Government and local authorities are cooperative.  There were 
no reports of organized anti-Semitic activities in 1994.  In 
the Transdniester region, Jewish leaders complained about 
anti-Semitic statements made during official celebrations of 
the separatist "republic" by an alleged Serbian nun, who gave 
strongly nationalist speeches.

    d.   Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

There are no closed areas or restrictions on travel within 
Moldova.  Moldovans generally were able to travel and emigrate 
freely in 1994.  During the first part of the year while old 
Soviet legislation was still in effect, exit visas were 
required and routinely issued.  The requirement for exit visas 
was lifted in July.  Restrictions on emigration remain in 
force, however, including the requirement to gain the 
permission of close relatives in order to emigrate.  The 
Government may also deny permission to emigrate if the 
applicant had access to state secrets.  New legislation, passed 
in November, retained these emigration restrictions.  Such 
cases, are, however, very rare, and none were reported in 
1994.

Section 3                           Respect for Political 
                                    Rights:  The Right of 
                                    Citizens to Change Their 
                                    Government

Moldova held its first multiparty parliamentary elections in 
February.  International monitors from CSCE member countries 
observing the elections deemed them generally free and fair.  
Some observers, however, noted several problem areas, including 
unequal access to the media and the use of state resources by 
the dominant party.

The elections were based on straight proportional 
representation, with a 4-percent threshold for entry into 
Parliament.  Four parties or blocs entered Parliament.  The 
Democratic Agrarian Party, the largest bloc in the former 
Parliament, won 56 of the 104 seats.  A coalition of the 
Socialist Party and a minority rights organization called 
Edinstvo (Unity) won 28 seats.  The other seats are held by two 
groups--the Peasants and Intellectuals Bloc and the Christian 
Democratic Popular Front--which emphasize the importance of 
increased use of the Romanian language in public life, closer 
economic and cultural ties with Romania, and increased 
privatization of agricultural land.  Some members of these 
groups advocate reunification with neighboring Romania.

The new Constitution provides for the division of power between 
the popularly elected President, the Cabinet, Parliament, and 
the judiciary.  The President, as Head of State, in 
consultation with the Parliament appoints the Cabinet and the 
Prime Minister, who functions as the Head of Government.  Most 
of the mechanisms for manifesting this division of power, 
however, remained untried by year's end.  Parliamentary 
elections are scheduled every 4 years, as are presidential 
elections.

The new Constitution states that citizens are free to form 
parties and other social-political organizations.  A 
controversial article states, however, that those organizations 
that "militate against political pluralism, the principles of 
the rule of law, or of the sovereignty, independence, and 
territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova, are 
unconstitutional."  Opposition parties, some of which favor 
rapid or eventual reunification with neighboring Romania, have 
charged that this provision is intended to impede their 
political activities.  In September the prosecutor's office 
suggested to the Ministry of Justice the "suspension" of the 
activities of several parties until they brought their 
platforms into line with the Constitution.  In particular, the 
prosecutor stated that the position of the Popular Front in 
support of reunification was anticonstitutional, as was the 
alleged support of the Unity party for the federalization of 
Moldova.  The Ministry of Justice rejected this view, and the 
authorities took no further action in 1994.

The government press has also strongly criticized opposition 
parties for campaigning in favor of amendments to the new 
Constitution, particularly provisions identifying the local 
language as "Moldovan" rather than "Romanian" and those 
permitting the grant of special status to the separatist 
regions.  These parties continue to collect signatures to force 
a vote on their proposed amendments.

There are a small number of female representatives in 
Parliament.  The Association of Moldovan Women, a 
social-political organization, competed in the elections but 
received less than 3 percent of the vote.  Russian, Ukrainian, 
Bulgarian, and Gagauz minorities are represented in Parliament; 
debate takes place in either the Romanian/Moldovan or Russian 
language, with translation provided.  There are no restrictions 
in law or practice barring the participation of women or 
minorities in political life.  However, the increasing use of 
Romanian/Moldovan in official settings may present an obstacle 
to those members of minorities who do not speak the state 
language, and women are generally not well represented in 
leading positions of political parties.  Women hold 5 of the 
104 parliamentary seats.

Section 4                           Governmental Attitude 
                                    Regarding International and 
                                    Nongovernmental 
                                    Investigation of Alleged 
                                    Violations of Human Rights

Several local human rights groups exist in Moldova.  The local 
Helsinki Watch organization maintains contacts with 
international human rights organizations, as does the Helsinki 
Citizens Assembly, whose president is the chairman of the 
parliamentary Human Rights Commission and leader of the 
minority rights movement Unity.  Human rights groups operate 
without government interference.

The Government welcomed and supported the work of the CSCE, 
which has a mission in the country to assist with finding a 
resolution for the separatist conflict.  The Transdniester 
separatist authorities stated that they will cooperate with the 
CSCE mission.  However, after almost a year of negotiations, 
they continued to refuse to permit CSCE representatives to 
participate in all meetings of the tripartite commission 
(Russian, Moldovan, Transdniester) which reviews violations of 
the cease-fire agreement.  They did, however, agree to permit 
the CSCE to participate in about half the meetings, and they 
allowed the mission improved access to the "security zone" 
along the river dividing the separatist-controlled territory 
from the rest of Moldova.

Moldova has cooperated with the ICRC in the past, permitting 
visits to prisoners from the 1992 conflict (since released).

Section 5                           Discrimination Based on 
                                    Race, Sex, Religion, 
                                    Disability, Language, or 
                                    Social Status

    Women

The law provides that women shall be equal to men before the 
law and public authorities.  They are generally 
underrepresented in government and leadership positions, 
however, and, according to statistics, have been 
disproportionately affected by growing unemployment.

Women who suffer physical abuse by their husbands have the 
right to press charges; husbands convicted of such abuse may 
receive prison sentences (up to 6 months is not uncommon).  
Public awareness of the problem of violence in families 
generally is not very high, and no special government programs 
exist to combat spouse abuse.  According to knowledgeable 
sources, women do not generally appeal to police or the courts 
for protection against abusive spouses because they are 
embarrassed to do so.  Police generally do not consider spouse 
abuse a serious crime, although, when cases do reach a court, 
they appear to be treated seriously.  Women and legal 
authorities do not identify spouse abuse as a common problem.

    Children

Moldova has extensive legislation designed to protect children, 
including extended paid maternity leave and government 
supplementary payments for families with many children.  The 
health system devotes extensive resources to child care.  No 
special problems with child abuse came to light in 1994.

    National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Moldova has a population of about 4.3 million, of which 65 
percent are ethnic Romanian Moldovans.  Ukrainians (14 percent) 
and Russians (13 percent) are the two largest minorities.  A 
Christian Turkic minority, the Gagauz, lives primarily in the 
southern regions.  They are largely Russian-speaking and 
represent about 3.5 percent of the population.

Moldova's citizenship law, adopted in 1990, offered an equal 
opportunity to all persons resident in Moldova at the time of 
independence to adopt Moldovan citizenship.  The CSCE's Office 
of Democratic Initiatives and Human Rights praised the law as 
being very liberal.  The law permits dual citizenship on the 
basis of a bilateral agreement, but no such agreements were in 
effect in 1994.

Several steps taken in 1994 led to an improvement in the 
relations between Romanian/Moldovan and Russian speakers.  In 
March citizens participated in a "public opinion survey" 
(actually, a referendum) in which they overwhelmingly voted in 
favor of Moldovan independence.  This quieted fears expressed 
by the Russian-speaking population regarding reunification with 
Romania, an alternative which is favored by a small minority of 
Moldovan citizens.

The new Parliament voted to delay the implementation of the 
language testing foreseen in the language law of 1989 and due 
to begin in 1994.  The principle inherent in the language law 
is that, in dealing with any official or commercial entity, the 
citizen should be able to pick the language to use.  Officials 
are therefore obligated to know Russian and Romanian/Moldovan 
"to the degree necessary to fulfill their professional 
obligations."  Since many Russian-speakers do not speak 
Romanian/Moldovan (while all educated Moldovans speak both 
languages), they argued for a delay in the implementation of 
the law to permit more time to learn the language.  Parliament 
also decided to review the procedures for testing and the 
categories of individuals to be tested.  The new Constitution 
guarantees the rights of parents to choose the language of 
instruction for their children.

These changes, combined with increased efforts on the part of 
the new Parliament and Government to improve interethnic 
relations, led to an easing of tensions in 1994.

In the separatist region, however, discrimination against 
Romanian/Moldovan-speakers increased.  The regime continued its 
insistence that all Moldovan schools in the region use the 
Cyrillic alphabet only.  (The Cyrillic script was used in 
Moldova until 1989, since "Moldovan" during the Soviet era was 
officially decreed to be a different language than Romanian, 
which is written in the Latin alphabet.  The 1989 language law 
reinstituted the use of the Latin script.)  Many teachers, 
parents, and students have objected to returning to the 
Cyrillic script.  They believe it disadvantages the children, 
who are less competitive for higher education opportunities in 
the rest of Moldova or even Romania.  They further object since 
it is a return to one of the more oppressive and despised 
policies of the pre-Gorbachev era.  There were several student 
strikes against the policy.  Some teachers have reportedly been 
threatened, and the regime has applied considerable pressure on 
the schools.  In response to actions by parents and teachers, 
who blocked railroad tracks in Benderi (Tighina) to protest the 
imposition of the Cyrillic alphabet, the separatist leaders 
made some concessions on this issue.

    People with Disabilities

While there is no legal discrimination against people with 
disabilities, there are no laws providing for accessibility for 
them, and there are few government resources devoted to 
training people with disabilities.  The Government does provide 
tax advantages to charitable groups that assist the disabled.

Section 6                           Worker Rights

    a.   The Right of Association

The 1990 Soviet law on trade unions, which was endorsed by 
Moldova's then Supreme Soviet and is still in effect, provides 
for independent trade unions.  Moldovan laws passed in 1989 and 
1991, which give citizens the right to form all kinds of social 
organizations, also provide a legal basis for the formation of 
independent unions.  The new Constitution further declares that 
any employee may found a union or join a union which defends 
his interests.  However, there have been no known attempts to 
establish alternate trade union structures independent of the 
successor to the previously existing official organizations 
which were part of the Soviet trade union system.

The successor organization is the Federation of Independent 
Trade Unions (FITU).  FITU's continuing role in managing the 
state insurance system and its retention of previously existing 
official union headquarters and vacation facilities provide an 
inherent advantage over any newcomers who might wish to form a 
union outside its structure.  However, its industrial or branch 
unions are becoming more independent entities; they maintain 
that their membership in FITU is voluntary and that they can 
withdraw if they wish.  Virtually all employed adults are 
members of a union.

FITU has insisted on the right to have union representatives 
involved in the negotiations to set wages.  It opposed 
government measures to raise prices before back salaries were 
paid.  In the parliamentary elections in February, several high 
union officials endorsed the small opposition Social Democratic 
Party and ran for Parliament on that ticket.  Some of the 
member unions protested this decision, stating that they did 
not support the Social Democratic Party and did not believe the 
unions should support any party.  These steps indicate that 
FITU has begun to play a role independent of the Government and 
the governing party.

Government workers do not have the right to strike, nor do 
those in essential services such as health care and energy.  
Other unions may strike if two-thirds of the members vote for a 
strike in a secret ballot.  There were several very small-scale 
labor actions in 1994 for payment of back wages, including 
brief strikes by teachers at a police academy and employees of 
a cement plant.  Very high hidden unemployment and rising open 
unemployment made workers concerned primarily about job 
security.

Unions may affiliate and maintain contacts with international 
organizations.

    b.   The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Moldovan law, which is still based on former Soviet 
legislation, provides for collective bargaining rights.  
However, wages are set through a tripartite negotiation process 
involving government, management, and unions.  On the national 
level, the three parties meet and negotiate national minimum 
wages for all categories of workers.  Then, each of the branch 
unions representing a particular industry negotiates with 
management and the government ministries responsible for that 
industry.  They may set wages higher than the minimum set on 
the national level and often do, especially if the industry in 
question is more profitable than average.  Finally, on the 
enterprise level, union and management representatives 
negotiate directly on wages.  Again, they may set wages higher 
than negotiators on the previous level.  In 1994 bargaining on 
the national agreement was not completed until July, since 
management insisted on delaying negotiations until the new 
Government was in place after the February elections.

There were no reports of actions taken against union members 
for union activities.  The 1990 Soviet law on trade unions 
provides that union leaders may not be fired from their jobs 
while in leadership positions or for a period after they leave 
those positions.  This law has not been tested in Moldova.

There are no export processing zones.

    c.   Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Article 44 of the new Constitution prohibits forced labor.  No 
instances of forced labor were reported.

    d.   Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The minimum age for employment under unrestricted conditions is 
18 years.  Employment of those aged 16 to 18 is permitted under 
special conditions, including shorter workdays, no night 
shifts, and longer vacations.  The Ministry of Labor and Social 
Protection is primarily responsible for enforcing these 
restrictions, and the Ministry of Health also has a role.  
Child labor is not used in Moldovan industry, though children 
living on farms do sometimes assist in the agricultural sector.

    e.   Acceptable Conditions of Work

The minimum monthly wage of $3.50 (13.5 Moldovan lei) was 
raised to $4.50 (18 Moldovan lei) in July 1994.  The average 
wage of $20.25 (81 Moldovan lei) does not provide a decent 
standard of living for a worker and family.  The new 
Constitution sets the maximum workweek at 40 hours, and the 
Labor Code provides for at least 1 day off per week.  Due to 
severe budgetary constraints, the Government and enterprises 
often did not meet the payroll for employees in 1994.

The State is required to set and check safety standards in the 
workplace.  The unions within FITU also have inspection 
personnel who have a right to stop work in the factory or fine 
the enterprise if safety standards are not met.  Further, 
workers have the right to refuse to work but may continue to 
draw their salaries if working conditions represent a serious 
threat to their health.  In practice, however, the declining 
economic situation has led enterprises to economize on safety 
equipment and generally to show less concern for worker safety 
issues.  Workers often do not know their rights in this area.

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[end of document]

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