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Parliament Activity Review March 10-14, 2003
March 17, 2003
Council of Europe monitoring mission has influenced to a large extent authorities' agenda. Moldovan authorities have kept some of the previously assumed to enforce PACE resolutions, by adopting a number of legal acts of paramount importance, namely the Law on the Code of Penal Procedure, Law on Prosecution, final amendments to the Law on "Teleradio-Moldova" State Company, which was brought in accordance with the Council of Europe recommendations.
At the recommendation of Council of Europe experts, the Parliament adopted in the first reading amendments to the Law on Deputy Status, Law on Judge Status and the Law on Local Public Administration, which was tailored to the recommendations of the Congress of Local and Regional Powers. The latter would be examined during an extraordinary Parliament session.
An outline of other legal acts examined by the Parliament is provided below.
I. Code of Penal Procedure.
ADEPT comment: Under the Concept of Judiciary Reform adopted in 1994, the Code of Penal Procedure was to be one of the first laws to be adopted immediately after the Constitution. The adoption of the law was among the engagements undertaken by the Republic of Moldova upon joining Council of Europe.
In the eight years to follow, several working groups were established to draft the Code. In year 2000 the Code was adopted in the first reading, however its adoption in the final reading was pending the adoption of a new Penal Code. It is worth mentioning that last year the Parliament adopted a new Penal Code, however its enforcement was conditioned this time on the enforcement of the Code of Penal Procedure, otherwise inconsistencies in the investigation and penal procedures would have arisen.
Last year the Constitution was amended abolishing a level of the judiciary, thus requiring a new procedure of hearing appeals.
The new Code of Penal Procedure includes a series of innovations, namely:
- New principles (free access to justice, freedom to testimony against oneself, freedom to evaluate the evidences, equality of the parties in the trial, prohibition to trial twice for the same crime, as well as other principles of the modern law).
- Increasing prosecutor's role in trials, who is the one to take the decisions.
- Establishing a standard term of lawsuits, comprising both preliminary investigation as well as the trial itself.
- De-monopolizing preliminary investigation, which hence could be conducted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Information and Security Service, Customs Department and Center for Fighting Economic Crime and Corruption.
- Establishing preliminary judiciary control via "instruction judge", who would conduct all the preliminary measures (arrest, collecting evidence, etc).
- Increasing the role of the counsel for defense, who is to enjoy the same rights as other participants to the trial. This aspects needs a thorough consideration as it's importance has been cited for a long time, furthermore international organizations in the field as well as human rights groups have been insisting on it.
- Establishing the procedure of release on bail. The relevant procedure has been debated for a long time, many arguments being voiced either in its favor or against.
- Establishing preliminary hearings, where all the time-consuming matters are to be settled.
- Allowing for the confession agreement to be concluded, hereby the parties agree on procedures, which do not need further evidence, in return for less punishment.
Noteworthy, under the new amendments to the Constitution and CE recommendations, the Code of Penal Procedure should be enforced A.S.A.P., by the end of 2003. However, upon its enforcement several problems would arise such as reforming the existing structures, professional training, and financial and technical matters.
II. Law on Labor Market.
ADEPT comment: The law specifies the measures to be undertaken to provide new workplaces and social guarantees to the unemployed.
A special attention should be given to the incentives provided for establishing new workplaces:
- credits from special funds (formed out of revenues to the state budget, unemployment fund, labor market and business development fund, donations from legal and natural entities) shall be offered under preferential conditions for establishing new workplaces;
- employers hiring graduates or registered unemployed shall enjoy deductions to the fringe benefits due, over a 1 year period.
Also, the law provides that a specialized agency would train the unemployed on the jobs in demand on the market.
A new procedure of paying employment benefits has been established ranging from 50% of the average salary per economy (for a work experience of up to 5%) and up to 60% (for up to 10 years). The funds for the enforcement of the law shall be secured from the social security budget, consequently the benefits would greatly depend on the budget revenues and the quota allotted by the Parliament.
III. Law on amending the Law on Administrative Courts.
ADEPT comment: The following amendments were operated:
- Disciplinary sanctions to military shall fall within the competence of Administrative Courts.
- An independent court shall estimate moral damage incurred by an illegal administrative act regardless of the material damage, by taking into account physical or psychical damage incurred, as well as other factors like pleading guilty, circumstances and social status of the plaintiff.
The modifications have been determined by the Resolution of Constitutional Court No. 46/2000 outlawing the said provisions.
IV. Law on Consumer Protection.
ADEPT comment: The Parliament passed a new Law on Consumer Protection in accordance with the international standards and provisions of the Civil Code. In particular the law includes provisions on:
- Definitions of consumer, producer, seller, service-provider, service, product, quality, abusive commercial practice, counterfeit product, damage, etc.
- Protection of consumer's safety, health and security by imposing specific requirements to the producers and sellers.
- Protection of consumer's economic interests via binding contract clauses, guarantee terms, etc. Specifically for the products, which do not indicate the expiry the guarantee period shall be of 2 years.
- Consumer rights are more clearly defined than in the current law.
- Informing consumers on the products produced.
- Sanctions to be applied for the failure to comply with the law.
The enforcement of the law is an important event for the entire society, as each natural or legal entity may be considered consumer. However, a negative reaction from businessmen is to be expected due to the harsh requirements imposed on them.
V. Law on the modification of the Law on Deputy Status, adopted in the first reading.
ADEPT comment: The law excludes the provisions allowing for the revocation of deputy mandate. Currently, Constitutional Court may revoke a deputy's mandate in case of incompatibility or court sentence for a criminal offence.
Needless to say, Council of Europe experts repeatedly stated that the said provisions were anti-democratic and should be revised prior to Moldova taking over the Presidency. Albeit initially experts agreed that such provisions exist in numerous countries of the world.