Serious incidents identified in Security Zone during past 20 years

The sequestration of persons and their illegal detention are instruments that are regularly used by the Transnistrian administration. On the other hand, the continuous militarization of the Security Zone and of the Transnistrian region in general represent permanent threats to the life and integrity of the person and to national and regional security, says a study of the incidents in the Security Zone from the human rights perspective. The study commissioned by the Promo-LEX Association shows that 30 serious incidents were identified during 20 years. Half of them occurred in 2004, 2006 and 2009.

In a news conference at IPN, Promo-LEX executive director Ion Manole said the category of serious incidents include very different cases that were classified into four subcategories, such as the freedom of the person, on the one hand, and infringement of property rights on the one hand; violations that attempt on the life and health of the person, such as gun shootings and serious bodily injuries; kidnapping of persons and deprivation of freedom; sequestration of public property or infringement of public property rights and sequestration of private property. The last is probably the most underrepresented category as a lot of cases here remain undocumented.

Ten persons were killed in two public transport explosions; a person was killed with an automated gun by a Russian peacekeeper, while another peacekeeper allegedly killed himself with a gun from the checkpoint. This way, 12 persons died during 20 years.

In the Sequestration of Property category, the most resounding cases with a long-term economic and social impact were the appropriation of infrastructures and property of Moldova’s Railways on the left side of the Nistru and in Bender municipality in July 2004, with the assistance of the special armed forces, and sequestration of farmland in Dubăsari district. Also, armed persons took over the fluvial port Varnița and sequestrated three privately owned ships.

Ion Manole said that 2004 was marked by the school crisis, appropriation of the railways and arrest and detention of two persons in connection with this case. In 2016, two explosions occurred in the public transport, the port in Varnița was appropriated and five police officers were arrested and detained. All the cases of 2009 and 2010 refer to the arrest and detention of civilians and policemen.

In the analyzed period, there were identified 37 cases of unilateral creation, by the administration of the Transnistrian region, of checkpoints in the Security Zone. The process started much earlier, in 2001, and a multiannual analysis showed generally constant dynamics of the development of control infrastructure in the Security Zone, with an alarming rise in the last two years. The number of incidents does not yet reflect the number of newly set up checkpoints, but in the most recent case alone, in March 2020, there were placed 37 new checkpoints that were reported by civil society and the authorities of the Republic of Moldova.

The violation of the right to free movement in the Security Zion remains the most frequent violation. Even if the illegal placing of checkpoints of the Transnistrian administration in the Security Zone and the illegal checking of documents of all the persons who cross the administrative line are ignored, the cases of refusal to allow persons to enter the region or now also to leave it are frequent and mainly undocumented. The dramatic involution witnessed in this case in 2020 is unprecedented and shows who actually holds the control instruments in the Security Zone. The ban on entrance or leaving of the region imposed in March 2020 on the pretext of the pandemic was a decision with an impact on the Transnistrian settlement process in the long run.

Promo-LEX’s director said that among the immediate priorities is the reformation of the mechanisms of the peacekeeping operation, by firstly reviewing the regulations of the Joint Control Commission and the instructions of military observers. The current consensual decision-making principle, including the decision to deploy military observers to the scene of the incident, paralyzes and compromises the whole peacekeeping operation.

The study also shows that any interference in the current peacekeeping mechanisms usually meet with resistance on the part of Tiraspol and Moscow, which invoke the exclusive regulations of the Moldovan-Russian Agreement of July 21, 1992, which can be reviewed only by the signatories. In such conditions, the precedent created by the agreement on confidence building and promotion of contacts between the Republic of Moldova and Transnistria, which was signed in Odessa on March 20, 1998, should be applied in this case, said Ion Manole.

The conference forms part of IPN’s project “Injustice Revealed through Multimedia”. IPN Agency does not assume the right to decide if the organizers of news conferences are right in the cases about which they will speak as this is the exclusive prerogative of justice, but the exaggeratedly long examination period of these cases, which is much longer than the law allows, can be considered an act of evident unfairness and injustice. IPN News Agency does not bear responsibility for the public statements made in the public sphere by the organizers of news conferences.

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