The Republic of Moldova made progress in fulfilling some of the human rights and justice sector reform commitments undertaken before the Council of Europe. However, there are many systemic aspects that should be changed. These are related to residential institutions – places where persons are in state custody, UN Committee Against Torture member Ana Racu stated in an interview for IPN.
According to her, one of the achievements is the fact that the hearings at courts of law are public and the court decisions are placed on portals and can be seen. “A lot of technical work was done to achieve this. The fact that fewer applications were filed to the ECHR last year probably confirms a slight qualitative jump,” said the expert. The fact that the cases are distributed at random is also a progress on which a lot of work was done. Such progress didn’t exist 15-20 years ago.
On the other hand, representatives of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture rather often visit the Republic of Moldova and this shows that a number of systemic things should be changed, improved, especially at residential institutions. “I do not refer only to penitentiaries, but also to the remand prisons of the police, psychiatric institutions, placement centers for persons with disabilities, all the institutions where persons are in state custody,” said the activists.
Ana Racu voiced hope that the recent initiative promoted with the support of the Council of Europe – the working group for the justice sector reform – will have a positive impact on the reforms started in the Republic of Moldova. As regards the quality of the people from the justice system, she said she cannot generalize. The profession of judge or of prosecutor requires a lot of responsibility. The judge assessment system should be modified so that it is based on such criteria as integrity, honesty, professionalism and competence. Those who assess the judges are also an important group and the persons who form part of the judge assessment boards should be upright or the quality of justice will decrease a lot.
Ana Racu does not challenge the efficiency of external assessment as this could be a very good instrument. However, given that this process lasts, the internal assessment can be performed now as it does not imply the amendment of the Constitution. The external assessment comes as a super-value to what can be done at internal level.
The interview was held as part of IPN Agency’s project “Exposing Injustice Though Multimedia”. Ana Racu is a human rights and communication expect. She held a number of posts in the NGO sector, the UNDP and the Department of Penitentiary Institutions. In 2011-2013, she represented Moldova at the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture. Currently, she is a member of the UN Committee Against Torture.