Parliament Activity Review 14-18 April 2003
April 23, 2003
I. Law on Amending the Law on Civil State Documents.
ADEPT comment: The law abolished the provisions whereby civil state documents had to be written obligatorily in the Moldovan language, not "in the Russian language". Earlier, this provision was ruled unconstitutional and Parliament had to abide by the decision of the Constitutional Court. Deputies decided not simply to abolish the unconstitutional provision, but also to substitute it with another one, whereby the documents of civil state are to be written in the state language "and in another language, according to the Law on Languages Spoken in Moldova".
It is to be remembered that Law no. 3645 of 1 September 1989, which is mentioned, provides that the Russian language, as the language of communication in the USSR, is to be used along with the Moldovan language in the republic as the language of inter-ethnic communication, which fact ensured a real national-Russian and Russian-national bi-lingualism.
Also, the law provides expressly that the working language of state secretariats and notaries and of the executive committees of district, village, town and people's deputies Soviets, as well as of the bodies of registration of civil acts will be either the state language or the Russian language.
The executive committees of local people's deputies' Soviets issue documents in the state language, and, when requested by the citizens, in the Russian language. The notaries and the bodies of civil act registration issue documents in "either the state or Russian language".
Following from this is the observation that Parliament has not fully respected the decision of the Constitutional Court, for it replaced the unconstitutional provisions through the reference to a norm that is also unconstitutional. This is clear if one looks at Article VII of Title VII of the Constitution "Final and Transitional Provisions", which stipulates: "The Law of 1 September 1989 on Languages Spoken in Moldova will continue to be effective to the extent that it does not run counter to the current Constitution". Since the civil state documents are official legal acts, they fall directly under Article 13 of the Constitution and the provisions anterior to the current Constitution do not have legal power.
It is to be noted that Parliament made a reference in the Law on Notaries to the Law of 1 September 1989 and ruled that notaries should issue documents in the Moldovan and Russian languages.
It is possible that soon these norms too will be contested in the Constitutional Court, which will decide if they are constitutional or not.
Another conclusion that comes out of this is that the parliamentary majority has been making systematic changes intended to enhance the standing of the Russian language (in the laws mentioned above, the Law on the Protection of Consumers, the Law on Medicines, etc.)
Thus, although the Parliament has not succeeded in amending the Constitution and grant the Russian language the status of state language officially, this is being done in a rather insistent manner through a wealth of indirect amendments, despite the fact that the PACE Resolutions recommended abstaining from taking any decisions on the status of languages. It seems, though, that in the ongoing electoral campaign everyone has forgotten about this. The CE officials do not insist on these issues any more and have given green light to Moldova taking over the Chairmanship of the CE Committee of Ministers.
II. The Law on Amending the Code of Offences.
ADEPT comment: In this law Parliament excluded from the Code on Offences the provisions about sanctions for selling weapons and munitions in shops other than the "state" ones. We need to remind that earlier, according to the proposal of deputy Iurii Cicinov, Parliament abolished the monopoly of the Ministry of Internal Affairs on selling weapons and munitions, and extended this right to the Association of Hunters and Fishermen of Moldova, whose Chairman the deputy Iurii Cicinov used to be before elected to Parliament.
III. Law on amending the Law on Customs Tariff.
ADEPT comment: Earlier Parliament changed the taxes established for beer and raw tobacco imports and established various taxes of higher or lower values, some being reduced up to zero value. The Moldovan President did not promulgate that law, and recommended the Parliament to reconsider its position on beer and raw tobacco imports in a manner to stimulate local producers and to create the economic conditions necessary to fight alcohol smuggling.Deputies accepted most the President's proposals, except for those on beer imports, arguing that by establishing higher taxes on imports, the consumption of imported beer will drop and the production and consumption of locally produced beer will rise.
IV. Decision on appointing the members of the Commission for the drafting of the new Constitution of the Republic of Moldova.
ADEPT comment: Two weeks ago, Parliament heard the report of the Minister of Reintegration and adopted the Protocol on the Aspects of the Mechanism of Drafting the New Constitution. The Juridical Commission was tasked to select the members of the Constitutional Commission. Later, the Transdnistrian Parliament adopted a similar decision.
Three lawyers were appointed to the Commission at the 17 April meeting: N.Chiseev, former judge at the Constitutional Court, V.Mocreac, Professor of Constitutional Court, and I.Creanga, Head of the Legal Division of Parliament.
The appointment to the Commission of professional lawyers was criticised by a number of deputies who said that an important task as this one should not be entrusted only to lawyers, as problems of other nature might need to be tacked in the process. Despite these protests, the parliamentary majority voted for this decision arguing that the text of the new Constitution will be examined by Parliament and later be subjected to a national referendum and so the deputies will have plenty of opportunity to discuss it.
Some analysts said that the fact that no political figures have been included in the Commission is intended to ensure the constructive activity of the Commission and to avoid taking prematurely a political stand on something that will later require wider co-ordination and consultation.
V. The new Code of Civil Procedure.
ADEPT comment: Parliament has started the examination of the first part of the new Code of Civil Procedure, which needs to be adopted to ensure the entry into effect of the new Civil Code.
The new code has been adapted to the changes made during the past years to laws regulating the economic, civil and financial affairs, as well as the ones on the judicial system etc. The code includes now new provisions on probation, court summons, the jurisdictional competence, the special procedure etc. Also, new provisions have been added with regard to recognising the capacity of exercise, forced medical treatment and the reconstruction of the ruined judicial procedure etc.
The adoption of the new Code of Civil Procedure will help finalise the reform of the civil and criminal legislation. Soon Parliament will examine the new Code on Offences, which is the last of the series of new codes adopted in Moldova. To date, Parliament has adopted the following codes: family, civil, criminal, labour, and criminal procedure.