Parliament Activity Review July 8-12, 2002
July 17, 2002
The Parliament was very prolific in the time period covered by the comment, one of its major achievements being the adoption of the Law on Cults. Another important event of the week was deputy Valeriu Plesca's refusal to return from his official visit in Brussels. The deputy stated that "unless Government stops persecuting him and his family he wouldn't return back". The governing officials were very much dissatisfied with this incident as it happened on the eve of the meeting of parliamentary factions with the Council of Europe General Secretary. The opposition would definitely exploit the incident to their advantage, i.e. to prove Council of Europe that things are not quite well in Moldova, even if the Parliament and Government try to comply with the CE Resolution.
Let us consider some of the most important legislative acts adopted by the Parliament:
Legal acts adopted in the final reading
I). Law on modification of the Law on Cults.
ADEPT comment: The issue of the Bessarabian Church has been in the spotlight for a long time. It culminated with the ruling of European Court for Human Rights obliging the Republic of Moldova to pay the damages incurred for the failure to register the Church. Further the CE Parliamentary Assembly obliged the Republic of Moldova to comply with the Court ruling and register the Bessarabian Church. Despite the flaws in the legislation, invoked by the Communist authorities they have started looking for compromise solutions, namely the draft law secretly developed by the Government and recently approved by the Parliament. In particular the modifications refer to:
1. Law on Cults (No.979-XII of 24.03.92) provides:
"Article 9. Freedom of cults' organization and functioning.
Cults are free to organize themselves and could freely operate provided their rituals comply with Constitution, this law and legislation in force. Otherwise the cults shall not be recognized by the state."
Under the modifications passed by the Parliament, religious cults are free to organize themselves and operate in line with their own norms, provided their charter does not include provisions breaching the country's independence, sovereignty, security and public order. Further, cults should refrain from supporting political activities or any other kind of activity running counter to Constitution and law.
"Article 14. Recognizing cults.
To be able to organize and function, cults should be recognized by the Government resolution. Upon violation of Article 9 paragraph (1) of this Law, the recognition shall be withdrawn".
Under the amendments, to be able to organize themselves and operate, cults shall submit to the State Body for Cults an application on organization and operation and their charter. The relevant body shall register the cult within 30 days of submitting the application.
If the cult does not observe the provisions of Article 9, the registration shall be cancelled, whereas activity prohibited until the court rules otherwise.
Article 15, providing for the approval of the cult Charter shall be excluded.
According to the final provisions, applications submitted prior to the enforcement of the law shall be considered declarations. Thus, the Government is excluded from the cults' registration procedure. This solution has been praised as being a very reasonable one. On the one hand the Government wouldn't have to issue a resolution on the Bessarabian Church registration, thus avoiding criticism from the Moldovan Church; and on the other hand, Bessarabian Church would be able to freely operate and enjoy all the rights.
By settling the Bessarabian Church problem, the incumbent governing proved to be more democratic than all the previous ruling parties since 1991. However, some problems might occur in the enforcement of the law due to the flaws in the amendments, namely clear-cut definition of cults. In the future certain religious groups may claim the "cult" status, and the same rights other cults enjoy. And this given recent spread of proselytism and lack of a legal mechanism to decline a cult registration on the grounds that it is not a real cult. Let's hope that the authors of the draft law shall address those drawbacks.
The Law also provides for the modification of the Code of Civil Procedure, adding new grounds, i.e. ruling of the European Court for Human Rights, for revising final court rulings.
II). Law on the modification of the Dwelling Code and Code of Civil Procedure.
ADEPT comment: Under the law, provisions allowing prosecutors to eject tenants from the holdings they reside in without any authorization, or from the holdings at risk of demolition, are excluded. Further the law provides for efficient legal mechanisms of guaranteeing right to property and right to justice, so as to defend legal rights and interests.
III). Law on modification of the Law on Construction Quality.
ADEPT comment: Under the law, construction materials produced in Moldova are exempted from the 0.5% fee payable to an extra-budgetary fund. The modifications were dictated by the crisis in the construction industry, the great majority of companies being insolvent due to the high cost of production given old and expensive technologies.
IV). Law on the modification and completion of the Law on Legislative Expertise.
ADEPT comment: Under the law, specialized subdivisions of the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Defense and Information and Security Service are entitled to provide legislative expertise. In addition, independent experts holders of license are also entitled to provide legislative expertise, except for penal cases. The law abolishes the monopoly of the Republican Institute for Judiciary and Criminal Expertise of the Ministry of Justice, which failed to meet the needs in the field. The institute also lacks necessary technical equipment due to scarce of funding.
V). Law on completing the Law on Government.
ADEPT comment: Under the law, a Legislative Center shall be established within the Government, which would be a central specialized public authority in the field of drafting and providing expertise on the Government and Presidency acts.
VI). Law on the modification of the privatization program for 1997-1998.
ADEPT comment: Under the modification, a series of companies whose stocks was not attractive to investors, or whose status as a state company should be preserved, were excluded from the privatization program.
VII). Resolution on the evaluation of the enforcement of the Law on Public Service.
ADEPT comment: The Parliament noted unsatisfactory enforcement of the Law, especially with regard to human resource management and training. The Government was entrusted to submit to Parliament proposals on perfecting the Law on Public Service; to develop the Public Officer Regulation and to enforce professional development plans.
During the current session the Parliament heard reports on the enforcement of various law, once again proving its serious intentions in exercising parliament control.
Legal acts examined in the first reading (not final)
I). Draft law on requisition of goods and services for the public interest.
ADEPT comment: The draft law defines:
- Requisition of goods;
- Service provision.
The draft also envisages the following: the reasons for requisition of goods and services; curfew; types of goods that may requisite; record or goods requisite; costs, fees and payback, appeals; exemption from requisition; liability, etc.
II). Draft law on cooperation in investment.
ADEPT comment: The Agreement was signed back in 1993 by the CIS states and provided for the cooperation of the member states in developing and implementing an investment policy. The Agreement provides for the mutual protection of investments and regulates the investor status.
III). Draft law on the ratification of the Convention on Protecting Investors' Rights.
ADEPT comment: The Convention regulates different types of investments, guarantees investors rights to make investments and make profit.
IV). Draft law on the modification of the Fiscal Code.
ADEPT comment: Under the draft, new methods of deducting philanthropic donations are established, namely up to 10%. Also the draft specifies the organizations which may benefit of philanthropic donations and sponsorship. Further, the Government is entrusted to devise a method for confirming philanthropic and sponsorship expenses.
The draft is aimed to boost philanthropy and sponsorship, via increasing by 3% the amount of deductions allowed to be made from the annual income. The Government should have passed a long time ago this law and the Law on Philanthropy and Sponsorship and it is encouraging that it has kept its promise.
V). Law on the modification of the Parliament Regulation and Law on Government.
ADEPT comment: The draft provides for the publication of draft laws and public debates on them. Thus, the Parliament Regulation and the Law on Government shall be amended so as to allow Permanent Bureau or Government to decide ex officio or on request whether to publish a draft law and how to conduct public debates.
The draft law is aimed to improve the functioning of democratic institutions in the Republic of Moldova. The previous Governments might have taken those measures as well, if they had really intended to make their activity more transparent.