Legal analysis November 19-23
November 27, 2001
This week was marked by major developments in political events and foreign policy. Interestingly enough, all high rank officials of the Republic of Moldova left the country for official visits this week. Thus, the President of the country signed the basic treaty with the Russian Federation, an official delegation headed by the Speaker of the Parliament took part at the Sankt-Petersburg NIS General Assembly, whereas during its one week visit to China a Government delegation headed by Prime Minister has broken all the records in concluding bilateral and interdepartmental with Peoples' Republic of China. In addition, Minister of the Exterior presided a UN session and signed a joint agreement on fighting terrorism.
The boom in the foreign policy activity has had an impact on the legislative activity as well. After passing the package of laws the Parliament had to adopt prior to November 27 when the adoption of the state budget for year 2002 is due, MPs seem to enjoy a break and focus on less known but not less important draft laws.
I. Laws passed in the final reading
1. Law on the Republic of Moldova's Adhesion to the Convention on Refugee Status and Protocol on the Refugee Status.
ADEPT Comment: As in the case of the first reading, the law was surrounded by heated discussions. Member of the Braghis Alliance featured that once the law is adopted there would be a great flow of refugees to Moldova and eventually extra spending to the budget. The supporters of the law argued that there wasn't any increase in the flow of refugees in the neighborhood countries after their adhesion to the Convention. On the contrary, UN High Commissariat for Refugees has pledged its support for the governments efforts in refugees protection.
After all, the law was adopted but with a series of modifications with regard to the social and material guarantees provided to the refugees seeking asylum. Republic of Moldova is the 142 state to adhere the Convention and the last but one European country to adhere to it fifty years after its adoption.
2. The Law on the modification and completion of the Law on the Presidency of the Republic of Moldova.
ADEPT Comment: The law considerably reduces the guarantees offered free of charge to the former presidents of the country, i.e. Medicare, personal security, diplomatic immunity, etc.
3. The Law on modification of the Law on cancelling financial penalties and sanctions.
ADEPT Comment: The law extends by 1 month the term of canceling the debts, from November 1 to December 1, 2001. Experts claim that this law didn't have the effect it was supposed to, as the incentive to cancel the enterprise's accrued penalties didn't motivated them to pay off their debts to the state budget.
4. The Law on the modification of the Penal Code.
ADEPT Comment: This law adjusts the Penal Code to the modifications operated to Article 25 of the Constitution on July 12, 2001. Under the amendment the arrest period could be extended only by the court (previously only the Parliament was entitled to extend the arrest term by a six months).
5. The Law on modification of the Law on the State Budget for year 2001.
ADEPT Comment: This law supplements the Fiscal Body budget by another 12 million MDL, allowing it to conduct its activities until the end of the year. Many experts point to the paradox of such an increase of the Fiscal Body's budget under the circumstances when taxes levied by it significantly decrease.
6. The Resolution of the Parliament on approving the structure and personnel of the National Army and Defense Ministry.
ADEPT Comment: The said institutions would include 9.600 people, out of which 2.500 civilians. The President of the Country has initiated the reduction of the National Army personnel in an effort to reduce the spending for its upkeep.
7. The Resolution of the Parliament on enforcement of the law on military service of the Republic of Moldova citizens.
ADEPT Comment: This resolution was passed after the Government and relevant Parliament Commission undertook a control of the law enforcement as part of Parliament work plan for the fall session. After hearing the reports, the Parliament ruled that national defense is under-financed, as is the organization of the military service. To solve the problem the Parliament instructed the Government and Commission on the National Security to present back recommendations on improving the relevant legal framework.
8. The Resolution of the Parliament on abrogation of the Resolution on certain measures to improve the education at the Free International University of Moldova.
ADEPT Comment: The relevant resolution was passed back in 1997 and obliged the Government and relevant Ministries to facilitate ULIM activity, whereas the Healthcare Ministry was obliged to provide ULIM with clinical facilities based on a contract. The resolution was appealed in the Constitutional Court on the grounds that the Parliament exceeded its competencies and groundlessly favored a private education institution.
A number of the majority faction MPs insisted on abrogating the resolution and submitted a motion in 2000. Their opponents claim that upon abrogation a lot of medical students will be expelled, which would obviously upset a lot of people. In order to avoid conflicts and to observe students' interests, authorities will strive to transfer ULIM students to the State University, but this wouldn't be a task easy to achieve.
II. Legislation passed in the first reading
1. Draft law on the modification of the Electoral Code.
ADEPT Comment: The authors of the draft (Christian-Democrats), proposed to establish a progressive electoral threshold varying based on the number of organizations associated in the electoral bloc. Thus, for an electoral bloc formed of 2 socio-political organizations a 9% threshold is proposed, whereas for a bloc of 3 and more organizations a 12% threshold.
It is worth mentioning that according to some experts those amendments wouldn't "clean" the political spectrum as there are more efficient and interesting means of doing so - see "A new Electoral System for Moldova!" by Igor Botan, October 26, 2001.
2. Draft law on the unemployment fund of the Republic of Moldova.
ADEPT Comment: The draft envisages the establishment of a fund acting as a legal entity to enforce the policies regarding labor force and social security of the unemployed and their further employment. There would be no extra budget spending to establish the fund, as expenses related to the fund are included in the state budget under Social Security National Chamber.
3. Draft law on modification of the Penal Code and Code of Administrative Offence.
ADEPT Comment: The amendment to Article 43 of the Penal Code is aimed to change conviction procedure by replacing a term in prison with a probation period (from 5 to 7 years).
4. Draft law on the modification and completion of the Law on Restructuring Agricultural Companies during privatization process
ADEPT Comment: The said modification is aimed to reinforce the above mentioned law commencing July 1, 2001. It is worth mentioning that the law envisages a mechanism without a precedent in legal practice or theory, and is considered to be a wrong one by many experts. According to the legislative procedure the former law should be abrogated and then a new one passed when it is deemed necessary.