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Transition: retrospectives and perspectives
Chapter II. Law Enforcing Institutions
The Development of the Judiciary
In the past couple of years the independence of the Moldovan judicial system was seriously shattered through a number of measures taken by Moldova's current communist government, including a series of detrimental legislative amendments. As detrimental have been the governmental calls to step up the judicial reform and fight corruption in the judiciary, which calls have been nothing but rhetorical, and have served but the political interests of the current legislative and the executive powers. The massive, unprecedented and often unjustified replacements of judges operated by the new government testify to the current government's intimidating policy vis-a-vis the judiciary.
The author undertakes a thorough analysis of the judicial reform in Moldova, which he divides into three stages. In the first stage, from 1989 up to the adoption of the Moldovan Constitution in 1994, the foundations for the judicial system of the new state were laid. The second stage, from 1994 until the general elections of February 2001, which resulted in the Communist Party taking over the legislative and executive powers, saw the adoption of the legislative framework necessary to apply into practice the judicial and legal reforms. This stage was also characterized by the struggle of the judiciary for independence from the other two power branches. The third stage has marked the communist government's decision to start a new so-called reform of the judiciary, which, according to the author, is driven by political motives rather than an objective necessity. In addition, the communists have disclosed little if anything of what they actually intend to do within the stated reform, which remains a mystery both for the public opinion and the judiciary.
Accountable for the contradictory experience of the Moldovan judiciary to date is the chronic political instability. Never has there been in Moldova a clear political will to create an independent judiciary. Hence, the reform of the judiciary has been largely rhetorical and often the measures taken only appeared to support it. Obstacles of political, economic and institutional order have hampered the emergence of an actually independent and professional judiciary.
As a way out of the current critical situation of the judiciary, over the medium-term the author suggests to foster the positive outcomes achieved as a result of the judiciary reform as it was initially conceived. Over the long-term, a new generation of judges educated on democratic principles and ideals is to emerge for Moldova to have a strong and independent judiciary.