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Title:  Haiti Human Rights Practices, 1995   
Author:  U.S. Department of State    
Date:  March 1996    
 
 
 
 
                             MOLDOVA 
 
 
Moldova gained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.  In 1994 
it adopted a Constitution which provides for a multiparty, 
representative government with power divided among a president, cabinet, 
parliament, and judiciary.  Multiparty elections were held in February 
1994; independent observers considered them generally free and fair.  
The Democratic Agrarian Party achieved a majority and formed a new 
government with Andrei Sangheli as Prime Minister, a post he has held 
since 1992.  The Democratic Agrarian Party lost its majority in August 
when 11 of its members joined a new party formed by President Mircea 
Snegur, the Party of Renewal and Conciliation.  The alliance of the 
Socialist Party and the Movement for Equal Rights (Unitatea-Edinstvo) 
generally has voted with the Democratic Agrarian Party. 
 
Moldova remains divided, with mostly Slavic separatists controlling the 
Transdniester region.  This separatist movement, though unwilling to 
accept the political and economic implications of Moldovan independence, 
has 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 Organization of Security and 
Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Russian Federation act as mediators 
and were joined by Ukraine this year.  Transdniester authorities 
continued to commit human rights abuses.  The two sides have generally 
observed the cease-fire of July 1992, which ended armed conflict between 
them.  The Modovan Government successfully resolved a conflict involving 
a separatist movement led by the Gagauz (Christian Turkic) minority in 
the southern part of the country by granting the region local autonomy. 
 
The Ministry of Internal Affairs has responsibility for the police.  The 
Ministry of National Security controls the other security organizations.  
The Constitution assigns to Parliament the authority to investigate the 
activities of these ministries to ensure they comply with legislation in 
effect, and Parliament has excercised this authority on several 
occasions.  Some members of the security forces committed human rights 
abuses. 
 
Moldova continued to make progress in economic reform.  A privatization 
program based on vouchers issued to all citizens is virtually complete.  
However, the economy is largely based on agriculture, and agricultural 
privatization continues to lag behind.  In February Parliament passed a 
law slowing the conversion of land belonging to agricultural collectives 
into private property.  Approximately 75 percent of collective farms 
have become joint stock companies, with shares being issued to 
collective farmers.  Some 27,000 Moldovans registered as private farmers 
but the total number of private farmers is estimated to be from 47,000 
to 50,000.  The per capita gross domestic product is $367. 
 
The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens, 
however, there were problems in some areas.  The police occasionally 
beat some detainees and prisoners.  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.  Addressing a minority concern, the new 
Constitution provides parents with the right to choose the language of 
education for their children.  A 1995 judicial reform created a 
Constitutional Court and a system of appellate courts; however, the 
appellate court system is not yet in place.  Although the Constitution 
provides for an independent judiciary, the prosecutor's office still has 
undue influence over the judiciary.  Security forces monitor political 
opposition members and use unauthorized wiretaps. 
 
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 
 
Section 1   Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom 
from: 
 
   a.   Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 
 
There were no verified reports of politically motivated killings either 
in Moldova or its separatist region.  Information from the Transdniester 
region is, however, limited.  In September Moldovan authorities claimed 
that, since the beginning of the year 459 victims of violence have been 
buried in unmarked graves in a cemetery in Tiraspol, the capital of the 
separatist region. 
 
   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, but there were credible reports that police 
sometimes beat prisoners or suspects. 
 
Conditions are harsh in most prisons.  They are especially harsh in 
prisons used to hold people awaiting trial or sentencing.  These prisons 
especially suffer from overcrowding, bad ventilation, and a lack of 
recreational and rehabilitation facilities.  Conditions for those 
serving sentences are only marginally better.  Jailers sometimes 
tolerate prisoners abusing other prisoners and occasionally beat 
prisoners themselves, ostensibly for disciplinary reasons.  Following a 
recommendation by the Council of Europe, responsibility for prisons is 
being transferred from the Ministry of the Interior to the Ministry of 
Justice. 
 
In the Transdniester region, four Moldovans, whose trial was criticized 
by international human rights organizations as flawed, are still serving 
their sentences.  They have been allowed regular access to their 
families.  The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which 
visited these prisoners, on two occasions (1992 and 1993) in Tiraspol, 
was denied the possibility to repeat such visits despite numerous 
representations, most recently in July, to the Tiraspol authorities.  
However, the local Helsinki Watch chapter was able to visit one of the 
prisoners in March.  In September a group of Moldovan doctors was 
allowed to examine all four prisoners.  The doctors found that three of 
the four were debilitated enough for them to recommend that they be 
hospitalized.  They noted that the prisoners' refusal to accept 
medication apart from that brought to them by their families may have 
contributed to their decline. 
 
   d.   Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 
 
The former Soviet Code on Penal Procedure remains in force with some 
amendments.  Prosecutors issue arrest warrants.  Under the new 
Constitution, a suspect may be detained without charge for 24 hours.  
The suspect is normally allowed family visits during this period.  The 
24-hour time limit appeared to be generally respected.  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 new Constitution permits pretrial arrest for an 
initial period of 30 days, which may be extended to 6 months.  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 figures of the Ministry of Internal 
Affairs, 9,985 people are in detention in facilities designed to hold 
12,400.  However, foreign diplomats who visited one detention facility 
believed it to be overcrowded.   
 
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.  If the defendant 
cannot afford an attorney, the State will provide one.  In practice, the 
State sometimes impedes access to lawyers or provides a lawyer who is 
less than competent or energetic. 
 
   e.   Denial of Fair Public Trial 
 
The independence of the judiciary has increased since the dissolution of 
the Soviet Union.  The 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.  This provision for judicial tenure is designed to 
increase judicial independence. 
 
The 1995 judicial reforms approved by Parliament were not fully 
implemented.  The reforms created a Constitutional Court to deal with 
constitutional issues and a system of appeals courts.  The reforms call 
for district courts of the first instance and three regional appeals 
courts or courts of the second instance.  There will be a higher appeals 
court as well as the final court of appeal, the Supreme Court.  But 
staffs for the appeals courts have not been named nor facilities 
provided.  The Supreme Court supervises and reviews the activities of 
the lower courts.  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 a higher 
court (currently the Supreme Court).  In a number of cases, decisions of 
the lower  court were overturned on appeal. 
 
To date, no pattern of discrimination has emerged in the judicial 
system.  The new Constitution provides for 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 
occasionally bring unjustified charges against individuals in 
retribution for accusations of official corruption or for political 
reasons.  Prosecutors occasionally use bureaucratic maneuvers to 
restrict lawyers' access to clients. 
 
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.  
International human rights groups raised serious questions about the 
fairness of the trial, and local organizations alleged that the 
Moldovans were prosecuted for political reasons, 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 
 
Prosecutors may issue search warrants.  In some instances, searches are 
conducted without warrants.  Courts do not exclude evidence that was 
illegally obtained.  There is no judicial review of search warrants. 
 
The 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. 
 
It is widely believed that the security forces continued to use 
electronic monitoring of residences and telephones of opponents of the 
Government.  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 
organizations and police and prevent them from using wiretaps illegally. 
 
Section 2   Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 
 
   a.   Freedom of Speech and Press 
 
The Constitution and the law provide for freedom of speech and the 
press, although with some restrictions.  The Government does not abridge 
freedom of speech, and the print media express a wide variety of 
political views and commentary.  National and city governments own a 
number of newspapers, but political parties and professional 
organizations, including trade unions, also publish newspapers. 
 
Several independent radio stations broadcast in Moldova, including at 
least one religiously oriented station.  An independent television 
station started broadcasting in August.  The independent media outlets 
maintain news staffs and conduct a number of public interest programs.  
The Government owns and operates a television channel and several of the 
major radio stations. 
 
The press law retains language (after some modification as a result of 
recommendations made by the Council of Europe and the OSCE) that forbids 
"contesting or defaming the State or the people."  These restrictions 
are also contained in the new Constitution.  They appear 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 also have become 
difficult to obtain due to their expense.  Moldova receives television 
and radio broadcasts from Romania and Russia.  Cable subscribers receive 
the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) Super Channel, Euro-News, 
and a number of entertainment networks. 
 
In the Transdniester, print media, with the exception of a paper 
published by local Russian army units, are controlled by the local 
authorities.  The one independent cable television station is under 
pressure from the authorities.  Most Moldovan papers do not circulate in 
the Transdniester.  A few copies of the Moldovan government paper and a 
paper sponsored by the ruling Democratic-Agrarian party do circulate 
there, but in extremely limited fashion.  Circulation of all print media 
in Transdniester is greatly limited by the local economic crisis, which 
is more severe than in the rest of Moldova. 
 
   b.   Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 
 
The law provides for 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. 
 
During the late summer, the Chisinau city government closed the large 
central square in front of the government buildings.  The square was the 
site of major demonstrations for sovereignty in late perestroika times 
and is still the most popular place in the country for demonstrations.  
The city claimed that it was necessary to turn the square into a parking 
lot.  It was forced to rescind its decision after a few weeks because of 
extensive public criticism.  Nonetheless, permits are often issued for a 
nearby park or other central locations rather than the central square.  
Private organizations, including political parties  are required to 
register, but applications are approved routinely. 
 
   c.   Freedom of Religion 
 
The practice of religion generally is 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 provides for  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 
proselytizing 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.   
 
Protestant groups have increased their ties with coreligionists abroad; 
foreign missionaries are also established in Moldova.  About 20 
denominations are registered and active in Moldova, including Baha'i, 
followers of Krishna, and Jehovah's Witnesses.  These groups had been 
denied registration in the past.  A Protestant sect and the Salvation 
Army, however, have not been able to register as religious denominations 
because they do not meet the requirement of having a Moldovan citizen as 
the organization's legal head. 
 
Although Eastern Orthodoxy is not designated in the law on religion as 
the official religion of Moldova, it continued to be the strongest 
religious force and exerted significant influence.  The Metropolitanate 
broke away from the Moldovan Orthodox Church, which is under the 
authority of the Patriarch of Moscow, to adhere to the Romanian Orthodox 
Church in 1992.  The Government has consistently refused to register the 
church, citing unresolved problems connected to the new church's 
property claims as the principal reason it will not register the group.  
In September a district court ruled that the Government's refusal to 
register the "Metropolitanate of Bessarabia--old style" was illegal.  
The Government is appealing the case.  Harassment of the Metropolitanate 
by local authorities and priests of the Moldovan Orthodox Church 
virtually ceased this year.  Officials of the Metropolitanate attribute 
this decrease to the support of international organizations and Western 
governments. 
 
The Jewish community, although small, is very active.  Jewish leaders 
report that their relations with the Government and local authorities 
are cooperative.  A Jewish secondary school was opened in September.   
 
   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 are able to travel freely, however there are some 
restrictions on emigration.  Close relatives with a claim to support 
from the applicant must give their concurrence.  The Government may also 
deny permission to emigrate if the applicant had access to state 
secrets.  Such cases, however, are very rare, and none were reported in 
1995. 
 
Section 3   Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens to 
Change Their Government 
 
Moldova held its first multiparty parliamentary elections in February 
1994.  International monitors from OSCE 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.  The Socialist/Unity Bloc 
won 28 seats and usually votes with the Agrarians. 
 
In August eleven Agrarian deputies left the ruling party (one later 
returned) to join a new political party, the Party of Renewal and 
Conciliation, founded by President Snegur.  The Democratic Agrarian 
Party then expelled three of the defectors from their parliamentary 
posts.  The Constitutional Court overturned the expulsion, saying that 
Parliament had not followed its own procedures in expelling them.  
Parliament accepted the decision, thus averting a constitutional crisis, 
and reinstated the deputies briefly to their posts.  Parliament then 
expelled the defectors from their posts again, this time following its 
prescribed procedures. 
 
Other seats are held by the Peasants and Intellectuals Bloc and the 
Christian Democratic Popular Front.  These groups 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, the 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.  Parliamentary elections are scheduled to 
take place every 4 years, as are presidential elections. 
 
The 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. 
 
There are no restrictions in law or practice barring the participation 
of women or minorities in political life.  But women generally are 
underrepresented in leading positions of political parties.  Women hold 
only 5 of the 104 parliamentary seats.  The Association of Moldovan 
Women, a social-political organization, competed in the 1994 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. 
 
Section 4   Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights 
 
Several local human rights groups exist.  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 has welcomed and supported the work of the OSCE, which 
has had a mission in the country since 1993 to assist with finding a 
resolution for the separatist conflict.  The Transdniester separatist 
authorities have always stated that they would cooperate with the OSCE 
mission, but only permitted its representatives to participate in all 
meetings of the joint commission this year after more than 2 years of 
negotiations.  The commission, composed of Russian, Moldovan, Ukrainian 
and Transdniester members, reviews violations of the cease-fire 
agreement.  Previously, the commission had agreed to allow the OSCE to 
participate in only about half the meetings.  The mission now enjoys 
full, though unofficial, access to the "security zone" along the river 
dividing the separatist- controlled territory from the rest of Moldova. 
 
Moldova has cooperated with the International Committee of the Red Cross 
(ICRC) in the past, permitting visits to prisoners from the 1992 
conflict (since released).  Transdniester separist authorities did not 
allow the ICRC access to the members of the "Ilascu Six" currently 
serving their sentences since 1993.  Such visits took place in 1992 and 
1993, but were suspended at the end of 1993, because the ICRC was not 
allowed to make them in conformity with its standard modalities. 
 
Section 5   Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, 
Language, or Social Status 
 
Article 16 of the Constitution says that all persons are equal before 
the law regardless of race, sex, disability, religion, language, or 
social origin.  There are remedies, such as court orders for redress of 
grievances, but these are not always enforced. 
 
   Women 
 
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 report that spouse abuse 
is not widespread.  Through November the Ministry of Internal Affairs 
recorded 220 cases of rape or attempted rape. 
 
The law provides that women shall be equal to men.  However, according 
to statistics, women have been disproportionately affected by growing 
unemployment.  By law, women are paid the same as men for the same work.  
Though still victimized by societal discrimination, anecdotal evidence 
suggests women are now more employable than men (more flexible, better 
workers), and are working now in order to make ends meet.  There are a 
significant number of women managers in the public sector.   
 
   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 concerning child 
abuse came to light in 1995. 
 
   People with Disabilities 
 
There is no legal discrimination against people with disabilities.  
However, there are no laws providing for accessibility to buildings, 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. 
 
   Religious Minorities 
 
Drunks vandalized 40 headstones in the Jewish cemetary in one incident 
in Chisinau in May; police reacted quickly, arresting and jailing the 
perpetrators.  In Bender, largely controlled by separatists, several 
Jews were reportedly beaten.  Local Jewish leaders do not view either 
incident as part of a pattern of anti-Semitism.   
 
   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 OSCE's Office of Democratic Institutions 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 the Parliament voted to delay until 1997 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 choose 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 Constitution provides parents with the right to choose 
the language of instruction for their children. 
 
In the separatist region, however, discrimination against 
Romanian/Moldovan-speakers continues.  In most areas of the separatist 
region, Moldovan schools must use the Cyrillic alphabet when teaching 
Romanian.  (The Cyrillic script was used to write the Romanian language 
in Moldova until 1989, since "Moldovan," as it was then called, was 
officially decreed during the Soviet era 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.)  A few schools finally 
obtained permission to use the Latin alphabet, but this permission is 
now being rescinded.  Many teachers, parents, and students objected to 
the use of the Cyrillic script to teach Romanian.  They believe that it 
disadvantages the children 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. 
 
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 workers' 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. 
 
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 labor actions for payment of back wages, 
including a number of strikes by teachers in various parts of the 
country.  High hidden and official unemployment made workers concerned 
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. 
 
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 
 
The new Constitution prohibits forced labor, and no instances of it were 
reported. 
 
   d.   Minimum Age for Employment of Children 
 
The minimum age for employment under unrestricted conditions is 18 
years.  Employment of those ages 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, although 
children living on farms do sometimes assist in the agricultural sector. 
 
   e.   Acceptable Conditions of Work 
 
The current minimum monthly wage is $20.50 (90.3 Moldovan lei).  The 
average wage of $30.50 (138.2 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. 
 
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. 
 
(###)

[end of document]

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