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U.S. State Department Report Raises Concerns Over Moldova’s Corruption

This week, the United States State Department’s annual report on human rights in Moldova highlighted systemic corruption and transparency issues within the country’s government. As Moldova grapples with these challenges, concerns arise both within Moldova and among its international partners, especially in light of recent financial assistance provided to the government.

“Despite the government taking steps to combat corruption and increase the independence of the judiciary and capacity of anti-corruption agencies, corruption remained endemic. Corruption in the judiciary and other state structures was widespread,” the report said.

The report claimed that judicial independence remained a significant problem due to corruption and “selective justice, in which the law was not applied equally to all and was often selectively enforced for politically motivated reasons,” the report said. “Selective justice remained a problem and lawyers complained of instances in which their clients’ rights to a fair trial were denied. Several prominent politicians detained during the year alleged selective justice and abuses of their right to a fair trial.”

Moreover, prisoners continue to face inhumane treatment in detention facilities, exacerbated by severe overcrowding and inadequate medical care. The lack of transparency in Moldova’s judiciary further compounds these challenges, hindering efforts to address systemic issues.

Judicial reform activists noted in the report that judges commonly postponed hearings indefinitely for wealthy or well-connected defendants and that the practice was believed to be connected to the personal corruption of judges.
Prisoners also faced torture and inhuman treatment, in state-run detention facilities but also public spaces by police.

“Many cases classified by authorities as suspected torture occurred in public spaces, through abusive physical or psychological treatment by the police, carabinieri, or border police officers initially encountering individuals, or by emergency law enforcement officers called to a scene,” the report claimed.

The report highlights significant challenges in Moldova related to sexual violence, workplace harassment, anti-Semitism, and unresolved Holocaust-era claims. It points to legislative gaps, social stigma, and fear of re-traumatization contributing to impunity for perpetrators of sexual violence, leading to underreporting of crimes.
Additionally, it underscores the lack of criminal penalties or civil remedies for workplace harassment and inadequate accountability measures within the judicial system.

Regarding anti-Semitism, the report identifies persistent hatred and problematic discourse in the country, exacerbated by low awareness of Jewish community history and ineffective enforcement of hate-based crime laws. Finally, it criticizes the government’s failure to address Holocaust-era claims for communal property, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive restitution approach over piecemeal solutions.

Despite these pressing concerns, the United States and the international community have been providing financial assistance to the Moldovan government, including $30 million in direct budgetary support in early 2023. This assistance’s stated aim is to alleviate some of Moldova’s economic burdens, exacerbated by external pressures, including Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

This adds to emergency support by the U.S. totaling $300 million since February 2023. This assistance, coupled with the recent IMF loans, totaling $466 million, underscores the need for the Moldovan government’s international partners to exert pressure on Chisinau to intensify efforts against corruption and establish the rule of law and good governance, as a prerequisite for further financial assistance.

The United States should call on the Moldovan government – as well as other governments plagued by corruption – to prioritize transparency, accountability, and the rule of law in the utilization of these funds. Effective governance and responsible financial management are essential to address Moldova’s systemic challenges and promote sustainable development.

As Moldova navigates these critical junctures, the United States ought to reaffirm its commitment to supporting the Moldovan people in their pursuit of democracy, prosperity, and human rights, while not turning a blind eye to the corruption-driven practices of the country’s government.