The adoption of Moldova's constitution of August 27, 1994, codified certain basic human rights (including the rights to private property, individual freedom and personal security, freedom of movement, privacy of correspondence, freedom of opinion and expression, and freedom of assembly), which were observed more in the breach during the Soviet era. However, the constitution still contains language that could limit the activities of political parties and the press.
Although there is not government censorship of Moldova's independent periodicals and its radio stations and cable television stations, journalists complain that editors encourage them to soften their criticisms of government officials for fear of confrontation and possible retribution. This seems to be a well-grounded fear in Transnistria, where the authorities have cut off funding for two newspapers for occasionally criticizing some government policies and have physically attacked a cable television station for broadcasting reports critical of the authorities.
In 1994 Parliament considered a new law on the press, which journalists criticized strongly because it limited their right to criticize government policies. After reviewing recommendations from the Council of Europe and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), Parliament liberalized the law but left some restrictions that appear to be aimed at writings favoring reunification with Romania and those questioning Moldova's right to exist.
The Moldovan Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of National Security were investigated on several occasions in 1994 as to whether they had exceeded their legislated authority. They were accused of monitoring political opposition members and using unauthorized wiretaps. There were also claims of interference with opposition activities during the campaign preceding the 1994 elections, but there was no public investigation of those charges. The police, subordinate to the Ministry of Interior, are known to use beatings in their dealings with some detainees and prisoners.
Reform of the judiciary (to bring it more into line with Western practices) was approved, but Parliament had not passed the laws needed to implement it by the end of 1994. For example, prosecutors rather than judges issue search and arrest warrants, there is no judicial review of search warrants, and courts do not exclude evidence obtained illegally. There are also reports that local prosecutors have brought unjustified charges against individuals in retaliation for accusations of official corruption or for political reasons.
Trials in Moldova are generally open to the public, and the accused has the right to appeal. Bail does not exist, but release usually may be arranged by obtaining a written guarantee by a friend or family member that the accused will appear in court.
Because the security forces and the government of the "Dnestr Republic" are so closely connected, human rights abuses in Transnistria are more flagrant. The worst of the abuses in Transnistria occurred in 1992, during the height of the fighting. There were reports of beatings, ill treatment, abduction, torture, and even the murder of civilians by members of the police and the so-called Republic Guard. Requests for visits by Amnesty International and the International Committee of the Red Cross were routinely refused.
In Transnistria four of the six ethnic Romanians of the "Tiraspol Six" remain in prison following their conviction in 1993 for allegedly assassinating two Transnistrian officials. The fairness of the trial was seriously questioned by international human rights groups, and there were allegations that the defendants were prosecuted solely because of their membership in the CDPF.
Moldova has several local human rights groups, which maintain contacts with international organizations, including Helsinki Watch and Helsinki Citizens Assembly. The government does not interfere with human rights groups' operations.
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