UN report reveals severe fundamental human rights violations in Transnistria
Transnistria is the first separatist region to have a UN report drafted on human rights abuses. The report says that Moldova’s breakaway region does not respect fundamental human rights.
Independent senior expert, Thomas Hammarberg travelled to Moldova and its uncontrolled region in three separate missions in May, September and November 2012. He has learnt about many human rights violations registered in every part of the social life in Transnistria.
“Trafficking of human beings is a grave problem; measures against this form of slavery have to be given high priority,” said Mr. Hammarberg in his report published on Thursday. To tackle this issue, he suggests raising the public awareness and identifying the root causes of the problem.
The expert visited several prisons from the region. Meeting with inmates, he was told about ill-treatment and torture of persons in the hands of security officials. Moreover, he has found out that many persons have been sent to prison on fabricated charges.
“The trust in the impartiality and competence of the judiciary appeared not to be high and suspicions of corruption widely spread,” the expert said in his report.
After visiting some penitentiary institutions, he concluded that the system should be thoroughly reformed.
“A first step would be to ensure that the number of detainees be further reduced,” the report shows.
The case of Alexandru Bejan, a 16-year-old high school student from Transnistria proves the expert’s findings. Alexandru was arrested in January 2012 by the KGB authorities in Tiraspol (the so-called capital of Transnistria) to transcribe the content of an unknown letter in Russian. Later, on February 29, 2012, two KGB officers kidnapped him from high school during a break. They took him into a car and brought him to the headquarters of KGB in Tiraspol.
Alexandru was forced then to “recognize his wrongdoing on committing a terrorist act.” They told him that if he will not confess, he was to be brought to ‘militia’ and then beaten up, or imprisoned for 16 years.
Considering this and other related cases, the researcher visited an institution with convicted underage children. He suggested “a review of the juvenile justice system with a view to ensure the rights of the child deprived of liberty, in the spirit of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
Another finding is the precarious conditions in prisons which, according to the expert, “must be improved in accordance with international legal standards for the protection of persons deprived of their liberty and basic principles governing detention and imprisonment.”
“Inhuman disciplinary measures should be abolished and prison staff recruited and trained to cope with the daily problems with dignity and fairness. The tuberculosis (TB) and HIV infection situation is of grave concern,” wrote Thomas Hammarberg in his report on human rights in Transnistria.
Alexandru Ursu’s case refers to this human right violation. Mr. Ursu was illegally arrested by the Transnistrian police officers in 2009. He was detained in a cell with HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Hepatitis carriers. The man suffered a stroke because of the precarious detention conditions. His case was recently solved, the man being released.
The human rights report did not ignore the problem of the Latin-script schools in Transnistria. Thomas Hammarberg recommended the local self-established authorities to “resolve the issues about the rents of the premises (as already agreed) and to find solutions on the other outstanding property problems, including the return of the two schools which were previously moved.”
A so-called language policy adopted in 1992 and 1994 by Transnistria, forces all the Romanian language schools to teach based on Soviet-styled textbooks and in Russian language. They prohibited the use of the Latin alphabet in schools, as well as appealed to forcible eviction of teachers and students from Latin-script schools.
Russia, which is involved in the conflict, was sued on this issue in mid October 2012 by the European Court of Human Rights and was requested to pay 1.2 million Euro to the plaintiffs. However, the Russian Federation did not comply with the ruling.
OSCE published a report recently which gives recommendations how to solve this issue, but the international organization favors the separatist authorities and not the students studying there.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay urged the authorities in Transnistria to make sure the human rights are being respected. She emphasized in a press release on Thursday that human rights do not have borders.
“Human rights do not have any borders. It is vital to address underlying human rights issues in disputed territories, regardless of the political recognition or the legal status of a territory,” Ms. Pillay said.
The UN official added that we should not neglect the human rights of people living in separatist regions, referring especially to Transnistria.
“Mr. Hammarberg’s research in the Transnistrian region clearly demonstrates how the deployment of technical human rights experts can truly benefit people on the ground, without having a bearing on issues of political recognition or the legal status of a territory,” UN’s Navi Pillay said.Moldova.ORG