Status: Abandoned process or policy
Moldova does not have any policy to protect human rights defenders. A draft law was developed by civil society but has remained pending in Parliament since 2018. This process is therefore considered abandoned. Meanwhile, civil society and human rights defenders in Moldova face smear campaigns, stigmatisation and legal restrictions that limit their right to defend human rights.
In Moldova, debates on public policies for the protection of human rights defenders are led by civil society organisations. The People’s Advocate Office (the Ombudsman office), developed a draft law in 2020 on the protection of human rights defenders, but the Government did not comment or follow up on the initiative. Instead, authorities have taken steps backward in the protection of human rights defenders and civil society, by introducing restrictive laws such as the 2020 law on audiovisual institutions, which breaks the right to privacy and confidentiality of journalists’ sources. A new law that aims to regulate the collaboration of NGOs with political parties was adopted in 2020, and it has been the center of much controversy.
Moldova received a country visit by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in 2018, of which the report can be found here. The report includes concerning developments like the mass arbitrary arrest and torture of human rights defenders by law enforcement officers around the 2009 elections. The State of Moldova submitted a response to this report, mentioning developments like the drafting of the third National Human Rights Action Plan in collaboration with civil society actors and a “national mechanism that will be in charge of coordinating the elaboration and implementation of human rights policy”. No specific policy for human rights defenders is mentioned. Civil society organisations report problems of accessibility to funding by the government, despite a system being in place according to authorities (UN Special Rapporteur report, paragraph 21). The last communication concerning human rights violations against defenders published by the UN Special Rapporteur dates from 2015.
Moldova is also monitored through the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). In the last UPR report from 2021, several efforts such as the newly adopted NGO law and Civil Society Development Strategy for 2018-2020 have been underlined, but they do not contain any specific measures for the protection of human rights defenders. Furthermore, the report also mentions the continuing attacks against human rights defenders, as well a refusal by certain authorities to discuss high profile cases. Moldova received and supported several recommendations to further support for human rights defenders in the country, but merely noted a recommendation calling for a specific protection policy for human rights defenders, submitted by Spain.
CIVICUS monitor rates Moldova as “narrowed”, which means that “while the state allows individuals and civil society organisations to exercise their rights to freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression, violations of these rights also take place”. Concerns include increasingly strict regulations for NGOs and journalists and preferential treatment of NGOs acting in favor of the government regarding funding.
Updated in 01/23
 According to the State, “The new law has simplified the procedure of registration of non-profit organizations and provided additional guarantees to protect freedom of association.”