On 13 September 2021, the European Union and the Republic of Moldova held the twelfth round of their annual Human Rights Dialogue by videoconference.
The Dialogue reaffirmed the mutual commitment to the common values of democracy, human rights, and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, enshrined in the EU-Moldova Association Agreement. EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Eamon Gilmore, took part in the discussion, underlining the importance that the EU attaches to human rights in EU-Moldova relations.
The meeting provided the opportunity to review developments since the previous Dialogue in 2020. Discussions took place on a wide range of issues, from the main developments in the EU’s human rights policy to democracy and electoral rights, human rights in the justice system (pre-trial detention, detention conditions, the fight against torture and ill-treatment), implementation of core labour standards, media freedom, rights of the child rights, and gender equality anti-discrimination policy and multilateral cooperation.
The EU welcomed the overall positive assessment of the last two rounds of elections by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE/ODHIR) and recalled the need to swiftly address the shortcomings identified, as well as the long-standing recommendations of the Council of Europe Venice Commission and the OSCE/ODHIR through a comprehensive and transparent review of the legislative electoral process. It was well noted that steps are being already undertaken in this regard.
In the discussions, a special focus was placed on the need for a thorough reform of the media environment, in particular addressing the concerning situation of the concentration of media ownership, lack of transparency, and oversight. The EU welcomed the government’s plans to improve the legal framework in relation to the access of information and underlined the importance of the work of independent media and investigative journalists for a pluralistic society.
The EU called on Moldova to pursue decisive efforts to bring the conditions of detentions in line with international standards and to thoroughly investigate and prosecute, as well as effectively sanction any act of ill-treatment and torture in detention facilities. It also underlined the importance of ensuring a right to a fair trial for all persons and called for swiftly amending the legislation on the status of foreigners, in order to provide effective procedural guarantees against expulsion.
The EU welcomed the progress made by Moldova in the process of deinstitutionalization of the child care system and the steps taken to develop a new Child Protection Programme and Action Plan for 2022-2026 while recalling the importance of sustaining the last stages of the process.
Participants agreed on the importance of further strengthening the legal framework for equality and non-discrimination, in particular by closing the existing legislative gaps in order to effectively counteract hate crimes and hate speech, as well as addressing discrimination in employment. The EU welcomed the steps taken by the Moldovan Parliament in the ratification process of the Istanbul Convention and called on Moldova to increase efforts in preventing and addressing violence against women and girls, in particular sexual and domestic violence.
The EU and Moldova agreed to keep human rights at the core of all policies and efforts, including the response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The EU delegation was led by Mr Richard Tibbels, Head of Division for Eastern Partnership bilateral relations in the European External Action Service, while the Moldovan delegation was headed by Mr Iulian Rusu, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Justice. In line with its policy of consulting civil society ahead of its meetings on human rights, the EU drew on the valuable input of Moldovan and international NGOs and international and regional organizations active in Moldova.
The next Human Rights Dialogue between the EU and Moldova is scheduled to take place in Brussels in 2022.