Human rights situation in 2018 didn’t improve

The human rights situation in 2018 didn’t improve. On the contrary, it worsened in particular areas. Continuous backsliding was witnessed in such fields as the access to justice, freedom of expression, observance of detainees’ rights and right to medical assistance, ombudsman Mihai Cotorobai said when presenting the report on the observance of human rights and freedoms in Moldova in 2018 on April 19, IPN reports.

The ombudsman referred to the justice sector reforms, saying these didn’t produce the expected results. He said a new aspect typical of last year was the barriers preventing the lawyers and other human rights defenders from fulfilling their duties. The elimination of these barriers is an essential condition for ensuring the reactivation of the fundamental right to a fair trial.

As to the legal status of foreigners and stateless persons, Mihai Cotorobai reaffirmed his viewpoint in the case of the Turkish citizens and managers of “Orizont” Lyceum who were expelled by the Moldovan authorities for the reason that they posed a threat to national security. He said that by this expulsion, the international human rights commitments assumed by Moldova were flagrantly defied. The ombudsman reiterated his call to the authorities to thoroughly analyze the risks to which the person can be exposed and the consequences of expulsion before taking the expulsion decision.

The report also refers to the right to elect and be elected and reminds of the invalidation of the results of the Chisinau local mayoral elections and the modification of the electoral system. Also, Mihail Cotorobai noted that he tried to clarify the right to vote of the Moldovans who are abroad and filed a relevant application to the Constitutional Court, but this was rejected as inadmissible.

Speaking about the freedom of expression, the ombudsman said 2018 was marked by hate speech in the public sphere, attacks on the press and lack of appropriate reactions on the part of the competent institutions. Restrictions were imposed on journalists as regards the access to events and particular information of public interest. The number of cases of manipulation of information and distribution of fake news increased. The editorial independence of media outlets continued to be affected by the pressure exerted by media owners, political or commercial interests.

Despite the changes and reforms witnessed in healthcare, the beneficiaries of health services continued to invoke the violation of the right to health care in their approaches to the Ombudsman’s Office. Most of the times, the people complained about the ignoring of the condition of obtaining the patient’s informed agreement, non-observance of professional ethics by doctors and defective communication between the doctor and the patient. The procedure for determining the disability degree remained rather problematic.

Mihail Cotorobai noted the courts of law continue to issue arrest warrants despite the restriction to place persons with serious diseases in remand detention. On December 31, 2018, 130 persons with HIV were held in Moldova’s jails. The ombudsman received complaints about placement of sick persons in basement remand prisons where the disease develops. Last year, 28 detainees died in penitentiaries, six of whom by committing suicide. The ombudsman examined all the cases of death and suspected dubious death in three cases.