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Parliament Activity Review October 14-18, 2002
October 21, 2002
During the time period covered in the commentary the Parliament convened on two brief sessions to examine several draft laws. It seems that the deputies are saving their forces for the upcoming hearing on the draft budget for 2003, which always is accompanied by hot debates. A list of legal acts examined by the Parliament is provided below.
Legal acts adopted in the final reading
I. Law on the Ratification of Acts on Eurobonds Restructuring.
ADEPT comment: In 1997 the Government issued eurobonds worth 75 million USD at a 10% interest rate and a settling day in June 2002, time at which they were due to be repurchased by the Republic of Moldova. Due to a shortage of money, Republic of Moldova authorities commenced the negotiations with eurobonds holders in view of postponing the repurchase to November 2002. Republic of Moldova managed to negotiate the payment restructuring for 7 years and a decrease of interest rate to 6%. The deal is viewed as a very advantageous for Moldova, which thus avoided insolvency and a poorer international rating.
II. Law on the Modification and Completion of the Law on Normative Price and Land Sale and Purchase.
ADEPT comment: Under the law, the plots nearby privatized units shall be rented at a price ranging between 2% to 10% of the normative price. The law also extends until January 1, 2005 the right of the owners to decrease the normative price of land nearby privatized units, so as the land could be privatized at a lower price.
Legal acts examined and adopted in the first reading (not final)
I. Draft law on finger print registration.
ADEPT comment: The law provides the goals, principles, types and criteria for finger print registration. Finger print registration shall be obligatory for several categories of population:
- citizens who work in the Forces Ministries;
- members of plane crews;
- citizens working abroad;
- persons under investigation, convicted and those under administrative arrest;
- foreign citizens and asylum seekers;
- unidentified bodies.
The draft law also allows for voluntary finger print recording. Also the draft provides a series of requirements with regard to record keeping, storage and use of the finger print information, right to access and use the said information. Certain experts claim the provisions are incomplete and do not fully guarantee citizens' right to individual freedom and non-interference his/her private life.
The said issue has been extensively debated in various countries, including France and US. The state argues for the need to ensure state security, fight terrorism and protect citizens' rights, whereas human rights activists argue that the aforesaid actions would precisely abridge citizens' rights. Another argument against the said registration system is that the data may be later used by the special services to blackmail public figures, etc.
Given the aforesaid, we shall monitor the way Moldova public opinion and civil society reacts to the said draft law.
II. Draft law on distribution of copies of literary works and phonograms.
ADEPT comment: The law is aimed to protect copyright, fight audiovisual piracy and illegal distribution of literary works and phonograms. This shall be achieved by obliging distributors of audiovisual materials, databases, software and phonograms to get registered with the State Copyright Agency and receive a control sign. Furthermore, the law sets several requirements for distribution, namely:
- each package of the literary work or phonogram shall include the control sign and information on the copyright;
- distributor will posses a registration certificate proving the award of control signs;
- distributor will posses a contract providing for the distribution of the works of art and phonograms according to the procedure established by the Agency, etc.
Experts welcomed and praised the draft law, as responding to the general tendency in the region. Furthermore, clear-cut provisions would allow Republic of Moldova to avoid international litigation. On the contrary, opponents of the draft law believe that the binding purchase of control sign would inevitably lead to the increase of the product price and thus affect the ordinary citizen purchasing it.
The Parliament is to decide which of the two positions is more grounded and is more relevant to the state policy in the field.
III. Draft law on the modification of legal acts related to the detainee's mail.
ADEPT comment: The draft law prohibits censure of the detainee's correspondence with national or international institutions protecting human rights and freedoms.
The opponents of the modification claim that according to the Constitution provisions prohibiting any kind of censure, no mail in general should be read or censured. The supporters of the modification claim that Article 54 of the Constitution allows restricting citizen's right to secrecy of correspondence, provided state and society interests are at stake. The latter also argue that detainees are not entirely deprived of the said right, once detention period expires they may fully enjoy the said right.