Human rights in Transnistria

Human rights in Transnistria

Human rights of Transnistria have been under severe criticism by several governments and international organizations. The Republic of Moldova, as well as other states and NGOs claim that the government of Transnistria is authoritarian and has a poor human rights record, and is accused of arbitrary arrest and torture.

With the stated aim of wanting to rectify its human rights record and bring it in line with European standards, Transnistria in 2006 established an ombudsman office. [ [ Tiraspol Times: "Opposition-controlled parliament appoints new ombudsman for human rights" - 8 June 2006] ]

The 2007 "Freedom in the World" report, published by the US-based Freedom House, described Transnistria as a "non-free" territory, having an equally bad situation in both political rights and civil liberties. [Freedom House, 2007 "Freedom in the World" report] ]


In July 2007 the European Parliament, in a decision without juridical power, condemned the “strict and frequent” violation of human rights by the Transnistrian separatist authorities. The European Parliament "deplores the lack of respect for human rights and human dignity in Transnistria" and "condemns the continued repression, harassment and intimidation of representatives of the independent media, NGOs and civil society". [ [ The European Parliament condemns the violation of human rights in the Eastern part of Republic of Moldova] , [] , 13 July 2007] [ [ The European Parliament condemns the violation of human rights in the Eastern part of Republic of Moldova] , Deca-press, 13 July 2007] [ [ Human rights: Iraq, Transnistria, Vietnam] , European Parliament Press Service, 12 July 2007] .

According to an U.S. Department of State report referring to year 2006, "The right of citizens to change their government("their" refers to Moldovan government, Wikipedia editors note) was restricted [...] Authorities reportedly continued to use torture and arbitrary arrest and detention. [...] In Transnistria authorities limited freedom of speech and of the press. [...] Authorities usually did not permit free assembly. [...] In the separatist region of Transnistria the authorities continued to deny registration and harassed a number of minority religions groups. [...] The separatist region remained a significant source and transit area for trafficking in persons. [...] Homosexuality was illegal, and gays and lesbians were subject to governmental and societal discrimination." [United States Department of State: [ Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2006] ]

The Republic of Moldova accuses the PMR administration of organizing incursions into some of the left-bank villages controlled by the Moldovan government such as Vasilevca, which they claim also result in arbitrary arrests, beatings and sometimes even deaths.

Several alleged crimes by the paramilitary forces of the Transnistrian government remained uninvestigated. The chairman of the Moldovan Helsinki Committee for Human Rights claimed that 20 people were killed in the village of Chiţcani, 5 km south of Tiraspol, between 1996 and 2000. He said that no government authority investigated these deaths because Moldova has no access to the village and Transnistrian authorities do not wish to investigate. [ [ Interview on Transnistria with Stefan Uritu, reporter Mrs Sara Еngstrum, Sweden Angstorm] ]

According to a human rights report by the US Department of State, prisons in Transnistria are said to be harsh. [ [ Country Reports on Human Rights Practices] , U.S. State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, February 25, 2004]

According to US Department of State human rights reports for 2003-2004 and 2005, the right of citizens to change their government is severely restricted; authorities reportedly continued to use torture and arbitrary arrest and detention. Transnistrian authorities harassed independent media and opposition lawmakers, restricted freedom of association and of religion, and discriminated against Romanian-speakers. [ [ Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The U.S. Record 2003-2004] ] [ US Department of State 2005 report about Human Rights in Moldova] ]

The police investigation into the July 2004 disappearance of Sergei Gavrilov, who was imprisoned in Transnistria during the early 1990s and allegedly witnessed the mistreatment of members of the "Ilascu Group", was not solved. Transnistrian authorities have regularly harassed and often detained persons suspected of being critical of the regime for periods of up to several months. For example, Transnistrian authorities detained for several hours and reportedly abused two brothers, aged 12 and 15, who were the sons of a teacher at one of the Latin script schools in Transnistria. The Transnistria militia had reportedly explained they had detained the boys to clean the city of homeless people before the December legislative elections.

ituation of the media

According to OSCE, the media climate in Transnistria is restrictive and the authorities continue a long-standing campaign to silence independent opposition voices and groups. [ [ OSCE - Media in Transdniestria] ] Alternative viewpoints were stifled by widespread censorship

According to the same U.S. Department of State report for 2006, "Both of region's major newspapers were controlled by the authorities. There was one independent weekly newspaper in Bender and another in the northern city of Rîbniţa. [...] Separatist authorities harassed independent newspapers for critical reporting of the Transnistrian regime. [...] Most television and radio stations and print publication were controlled by Transnistrian authorities, which largely dictated their editorial policies and finance operations. Some broadcast networks, such as the TSV television station and the INTER-FM radio station, were owned by Transnistria's largest monopoly, Sherriff, which also holds a majority in the region's legislature. [...] In July 2005 the Transnistrian Supreme Soviet amended the election code to prohibit media controlled by the Transnistrian authorities from publishing results of polls and forecasts related to elections." [United States Department of State report for 2006]

ituation of Moldovan (Romanian)-language schools

Transnistrian local authorities insist that public education for ethnic Moldovans in their mother tongue is done using the Soviet-originated Moldovan Cyrillic, having restricted the usage of the Latin script (the norm) for the Moldovan language to only 6 schools. Four schools (of the remaining six) that taught the Moldovan language using the Latin script were closed by the authorities, who claimed the schools refused to apply for official accreditation. The schools were later reopened amid pressure from the European Union, but as private institutions.

In November 2006, the European Court of Human Rights examined the claims submitted by three Moldovan schools in Transnistria (from Tighina, Rîbniţa and Grigoriopol) regarding the violation of their right to education and their right to work in non-discriminatory conditions. The three concerned schools regard the governments of Russia and Moldova as responsible for violation of their rights. [ [ ECHR to consider claims lodges by Moldovan schools in Transnistria] ]

The OSCE mission to Moldova urged local authorities in the Transnistrian city of Rîbniţa to return a confiscated building to the Moldovan Latin script school located in the city. The unfinished building was nearing completion in 2004, when Transnistria took control of it during that year's school crisis. [ [ Ribnitsa's authorities must return the confiscated school building, says OSCE Mission Head] ]

"In November 2005 Ion Iovcev, the principal of a Romanian-language school in Transnistria and active advocate for human rights as well as a critic of the Transnistrian leadership, received threatening calls that he attributed to his criticism of the separatist regime." [United States Department of State report for 2006]

Ilie Ilaşcu Group

One of the best known political cases involves Ilie Ilaşcu, who was convicted in 1993 of killing two Transnistrian officials, and initially sentenced to death by Transnistria's Supreme Court. This was repealed to a life prison sentence. Three other members of his group were sentenced to 12 to 15 years’ imprisonment, and confiscation of their property. Ilaşcu was released in 2001, following a decision of the European Court of Human Rights, while the other three were released in 2004 and 2007, when they finished serving their "sentences". " [...] Some in Moldova and neighboring Romania saw the group's members as martyrs for their opposition to the separatists." [International Herald Tribune, [ Pro-Russian separatists in Moldova release last political prisoner] , June 4, 2007] ECHR stated the authorities have broken the right of freedom and safety to all 4 members of his group, and the treatment Ilie Ilaşcu suffered is qualified as torture. The court also ordered Moldova and Russia — which backs Transnistria — to pay the four a total of €750,000 (US$1,000,000) in compensation for the deprivation of their freedom, and for torture and inhumane treatment while in custody. [IHT, ditto] )

They were charged with the murder of two "civil servants" and "terrorist crimes against PMR". In December 1993 Ilie Ilaşcu was sentenced to death for war crimes and terrorism. During the trial, he was kept in a reinforced iron cage, as he was considered "extremely dangerous". This decision was contested by various international human rights organizations, which cast doubt upon the fairness of the trial. For years, he was kept in solitary confinement without access to family or to medical assistance.

He was eventually released in 2001, two years after he lodged an application with the European Court of Human Rights. He refused Moldovan president Vladimir Voronin's offer to release the other imprisoned Romanians if he abandoned his case with the European Court of Human Rights.Fact|date=March 2007

In the case of "Ilaşcu and Others v. Moldova and Russia" (2004), the European Court of Human Rights found their detention arbitrary and it did not recognize the sentence. [Amnesty International, [ Annual country report: Moldova] ] It also demanded that Moldova and Russia release the Ilie Ilaşcu Group members, Andrei Ivanţoc and Tudor Petrov-Popa, still imprisoned in Transnistria.

ituation of the religious groups

Some organizations claim that the right of free assembly or association is not fully respected and that religious freedom is limited by denying registration to Baptists, Methodists, and the Church of the Living God. Transnistrian authorities also reportedly accused Jehovah's Witnesses of lacking patriotism and spreading Western influence, and developed school teaching aids along those lines containing negative and defamatory information regarding the Jehovah's Witnesses. [ [ U.S. Department of State - "2004 Country Reports of Human Rights Practices in Moldova" - 28 February 2005] ] In 2007, the US-based Christian Broadcasting Network denounced Transnistrian KGB persecution of Protestants. [ [ Christians Face Abuse from Corrupt Regime] , by Gary Lane, "CBN News", 6 April 2007]

Profanation of military cemetery

According to the Moldavian and Romanian press, in February 2007, Transnistrian authorities "destroyed and profaned" the "Drăgalina" cemetery in Tighina (also known as "the Romanian cemetery", which contains/contained the tombs of many World War II solders), thus violating Articles 34 and 130 of the 4th Geneva Convention [The Geneva Convention requires that the "dead are honorably interred, if possible according to the rites of the religion to which they belonged, that their graves are respected, grouped if possible according to the nationality of the deceased, properly maintained and marked so that they may always be found."] . The Transnistrian authorities did not exhume the bodies; they only removed the crosses and leveled the terrain with bulldozers.Moldova azi [ Party accuses Tiraspol authorities of vandalism and desecration of military cemetery] ]

According to the Romanian edition of Deutsche Welle, the Transnistrian authorities announced that the crosses will be blown up and mixed with asphalt to repair the roads of the city. According to PMR News, the authorities in Transnistria are to rebury the exhumed soldiers outside of the city and authorities have taken steps so that the identities of these exhumed soldiers are not lost. No such steps to date were taken, and locals have reported bones moved with bulldozers. A monument to Soviet solders is proposed to be built over the leveled graves. According to the official Transnistrian pressЛента ПМР (Lenta PMR. Зависть Графа Дракулы. Румынские пиарщики взялись за имидж ПМР. (in Russian)] , "Memorials dedicated to glory and monuments play an important role in the education of the young generation."

The cemetery was founded in 1812, when the graves of Swedish and Russian solders that died near the Tighina Fortress in 1709 were relocated. In the 19th century, several leaders of Don cossacks, local boyars and city councilmen were buried in the cemetery. During World War II, Romanian (the majority of the graves), German and Soviet solders, and Soviet POWs were buried there. Soviet graves are located in one part of the cemetery, called "Borisovskoe", while the 333 Romanian graves were located in the now destroyed part, called "Dragalina". [;279989 Parlamentul cere detalii despre profanarea cimitirului militarilor romani din Tighina, "Gandul", 12 February 2007 (in Romanian)] 319 identified Romanian and 14 unidentified soldiers, as well as 13 Soviet prisoners were buried at this cemetery. [en iconZiua: [ Tyraspol officials bulldoze Romanian soldiers' remains]
Ziua: [ images with the cemetery]
ro iconDeutsche Welle article: [ Soldiers Cemetery profaned by the separatist regime]
ru iconPMR News []
Slate article: [ What are the rights of dead people?]

Recent events

In March 2007, several opponents of Transnistrian regime were arrested as they made public appeals for a protest rally against the Tiraspol regime's policy [ [ TRANSNISTRIAN POWER WIELDING FORCES HOLD OVER TEN OPPONENTS OF BREAKAWAY REGIME] ] [ [ TRANSNISTRIAN POWER WIELDING FORCES HOLD OVER TEN OPPONENTS OF BREAKAWAY REGIME] ] . On March 19, 2007, Transnistrian authorities also arrested Ştefan Urîtu, the head of the Moldovan Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, and two of his aides, despite the fact that Urîtu has a residence in Transnistria [ro [ Urîtu's arrest] ] They were later released. [ [ Separatiştii transnistreni l-au arestat pe Ştefan Urîtu şi doi membri ai unui ONG local] ]

Transnistrian residents with automobiles registered in Moldova have seen their cars confiscated by Transnistrian authorities [ [ TRANSNISTRIAN RESIDENTS SAY MILITIA HAVE CONFISCATED AUTOMOBILES REGISTERED IN MOLDOVA] ]

During the Moldovan municipal elections on June 3, 2007, the Transnistrian authorities prevented the inhabitants of Corjova, a village in the security zone under the administrative control of Chişinău, from participating in the elections. A local councillor, Iurie Cotofana, was arrested and beaten badly enough to require hospitalization. Corjova's mayor, Valeriu Miţul, - who was up for re-election - received death threats [ [ After being beaten by Transnistrian police a candidate at Corjova concil was hospitalized] ] [ [ Infotag: PROKURATURA INITIALS PROCEEDINGS ON CORJIVA CASE] ] . Valentin Besleag, a candidate for Corjova's mayoral office was also arrested [ [ Amnesty International report about the arrest of Valentin Besleag] ]

ee also

*Media in Transnistria
*Moldovan schools in Transnistria
*Anti-Romanian discrimination
*Crime in Transnistria


External links

* [ (Official Transnistrian governmental website): "Human rights treaties signed, ratified by parliament"]
* [ U.S. Department of State - 2005 Report about Human Rights in Moldova with references about Transnistria]
* [ Promolex NGO study about Human Rights in Transnistria (2008)]

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