Retrospective of legislative activity in 2002
January 28, 2003
Legal and institutional reform, fighting crime and corruption.
Last year was marked by legal and institutional reforms, efforts to fight crime and corruption. Here is an overview of the most important events in this respect:
I) The most important modification was the amendment of the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova and reorganization of the judiciary system according to the Constitutional provisions of 1994.
ADEPT comment: Noteworthy, opposition greatly criticized those changes as it viewed them as an attempt to suppress the independence of the judiciary. Under the new law, the tribunals have been reduced. Currently tribunals are operating in Chisinau, Balti, Cahul and Comrat and have the prerogatives established in Article 30 of the Law no.514-XIII of July 6, 1995 :
Under the law, judiciary system shall be reorganized within six months. Judges of the liquidated courts shall be appointed to the existing or newly established courts. Draft laws on the enforcement of the judiciary reform should be submitted to the Parliament. To ensure citizen's easy access to justice it would be appropriate to establish territorial Courts of Appeal, in the premises of the existing Tribunals. This would settle all the technical and organizational matters and would aid the rapid enforcement of the reform.
By the same modification the Parliament reduced the minimal term a judge should serve in order to work in the Supreme Court of Justice to be located from 15 to 10 years. The modification is due to the shortage of skilled labor having long experience of working in courts.
Another important modification of the Constitution refers to the status of the citizen of the Republic of Moldova and foreign citizens residing on the soil of the country.
ADEPT comment: Needless to say one of the promises made by the Communist Party in the electoral campaign was legalizing double citizenship. Under the modifications the provision stipulating that citizens of the Republic of Moldova may hold only one citizenship was excluded. As for the foreign citizens, the modifications operated are not in their favor, this refers in particular to their extradition.
II) One of the most important events of the year 2002 was the adoption of a new Civil Code and Penal Code.
ADEPT comment: The two documents were due to enter into force on January 1, 2003, however the enforcement has been postponed until the enforcement of the related acts on the enforcement procedure.
Although there were numerous critiques voiced, the adoption of the two acts has been a great achievement of the incumbent Parliament, in particular majority faction, which would accelerate the completion of judiciary reform initiated back in 1994-1995. If the Parliament manages to adopt the Codes on Penal and Civil Procedures, the new Code of Offences in 2003, then the judiciary reform would be completed.
III) In 2002 Parliament passed several legal acts aimed to fight corruption and crime.
ADEPT comment: On June 6, 2002 Parliament adopted the Law on the Center for Fighting Economic Crime and Corruption. The Center is to become a law enforcement body specialized in fighting economic, financial and fiscal offences as well as corruption. It is too early to judge on the efficiency of the Center, however according to the data released by the Center leadership in 2002 penalties and other fees worth 200,000,000 Lei have been calculated and several investigations on economic crime commenced.
On July 19, 2002 the Parliament adopted the Law on Declaring and Overseeing the Patrimony of State Officials, Judges, Prosecutors, Public Officers and other Decision-makers.
The law provides the obligation and procedure of declaring the income and the control over the patrimony of state officials, judges, prosecutors, public officers and country leadership. Subjects of the law are the following: President of the Republic of Moldova, deputies, Government members, judges, prosecutors, members of the Court of Accounts, National Bank Board of Directors, members of the Securities Market National Commission, of the Central Electoral Commission, heads of the local government, Deputy Ministers, Chiefs of Departments, Chief of Customs and their deputies, Chiefs of Agencies and other institutions of the central government, Directors of the state enterprises, etc.
If the Commissions entrusted to verify the declarations find irregularities or frauds they are entitled to appeal to the Center for Fighting Economic Crime and Corruption, Fiscal bodies, and other law enforcement forces so as to sanction the corrupt officials. Needless to say, the law would have a positive impact only if enforced accordingly and plenary, however strong political will is required for this.
On September 26, 2002 the Parliament adopted the Law on completing the Penal Code with a new article, "Article 1649. Money laundering".
Under the article, money laundering shall be sanctioned with penalties ranging from one to three thousand minimal salaries or five years in prison sentence, or prohibition to exercise any public function for at least five years. Although previously officials announced they uncovered suspicious transactions worth 500,000,000 Lei, so far nobody was brought to justice.
IV) On July 19, 2002 Parliament adopted a new Law on Bars, whereas on November 8 adopted in the final reading the Law on Notary.
ADEPT comment: The adoption of the law was dictated by the fact that several provisions of the said law had been declared unconstitutional and by the need to demonopolize the bar and the notary. However the result of the adoption of the law proved to be different:
- It is believed the Bar wasn't fully demonopolized, as the National Bar simply replaced the Bar Association. Currently Constitutional Court is examining the issue.
- Notary system was demonopolized, and the weight of the Notary Union has been considerably decreased. Furthermore, the law provides for the state notary institution, which is to provide quality legal services to vulnerable strata of the society.
Note: For more details on bar and notary please see ADEPT recently published book "Transition: Retrospective and Perspective".
V) In 2002 the Parliament adopted a series of legal acts on the military reform, such as Resolution on approving the Concept of military reform, Law on Military Training in view of country defense; Law on Requisition of Goods and Services for the Public Benefit; Law on Armed Forces Reserves; Law on Mobilization, etc.
ADEPT comment: Noteworthy, all the aforesaid acts were drafted until 2001. The fact that Communist faction agreed to adopt them illustrates that there is a continuity in the reforms, at least with regard to military reform.