Moldova’s Left Bank Gets under International Human Rights Protectorate

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International human rights institutions take independent control of human rights in Transdniestria, bypassing official Chisinau. RTA expert explains why this is a bad sign for Moldova In recent years, human rights have gradually become one of the key issues in the Transdniestrian settlement, attracting more and more close attention from international institutions. As you know, any modern conflict and its consequences are closely intertwined with violations of human rights and freedoms. The Transdniestrian issue, with all its stillness, nevertheless, is in close contact with the human rights factor, which both Chisinau and Tiraspol cannot ignore. For many years, this topic remained on the periphery of the negotiation process, which was also due to the reduced interest from the international authorities responsible for monitoring the human rights situation in a particular region of the European continent. This issue fell under the spotlight in 2012, following the resumption of the 5+2 negotiations. It was during this period that the decision was taken at the UN level to delegate to Moldova its special envoy, the famous Swedish human rights activist Thomas Hammarberg. During 2012, the diplomat paid several visits to the left bank of the Nistru to assess the state of human rights in the region, the result of which was his authorial report. The document provides analysis results of the situation in various fields, and a list of recommendations suggested by Hammarberg for implementation to ensure improvements in the rights protection situation in the left-bank regions. It seemed that a UN expert’s expedition was more an exception than a rule in the absence of much interest in what was happening both around and inside Moldova. However, in 2018, the Swedish human rights activist again visited the republic in order to assess the current situation in the region, as well as to evaluate the performance and implementation of recommendations expressed in the updated report on the implementation of the first document. Such close attention, according to experts, may point at the systematic monitoring by international authorities, which are likely to keep the human rights dimension in Transdniestria within their view. The 2012-2013 efforts seem to have given the necessary impetus, resulting in increased attention of Chisinau and Tiraspol to the human rights issue and their consistent steps to integrate it into the negotiation mechanisms. In particular, ad hoc groups of experts on human rights were established on both sides of the Nistru, and human rights issues began to be heard more often from high international stands. Along with this, the parties are not shy to use this topic, for mutual pressure including. Chisinau, in particular, began to appeal more actively to international agencies, lacking real opportunities to influence the policies of the Tiraspol authorities, which almost blocked activities of Moldovan human rights organizations in the region. Transdniestria, meanwhile, managed to find access to UN forums and can now directly report the alternative information on the human rights observance on the left bank, while pouring accusations against Chisinau. More recently, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, has been in Moldova for a week. The European Ombudsman made a maximum-coverage trip, with a significant number of meetings both on the right and left bank. This speaks for an increased attention of pan-European structures and the assessment of Chisinau’s ability to ensure human rights monitoring throughout the territory. In this context, there is reason to believe that, given the limited capabilities of Moldova’s central authorities (and Moldovan authorities no longer make a secret of this), European structures may offer Chisinau to hand direct human rights monitoring in left-bank regions over to international organizations. A number of experts express the view that external partners seem to have responded to Chisinau’s many-year appeals to pay more attention to human rights on the left bank of the Nistru. At the same time, there are serious doubts as to the validity of such appeals and their outcome. The impression is that Chisinau is not evaluating properly, that such (in)activities are pushing international organizations to decisions with little predictable consequences. Indeed, the experience when certain territories get under international patronage or a mandate convincingly suggests that a deliberate transfer of a part of the state leads only to increased disintegration processes and the strengthening of de facto formations.