The Moldovan anti-torture policy focuses on preventing torture and combating impunity, mainly through the strengthening of state institutions. However, it ignores victims' need for rehabilitation, reintegration, and access to justice.
Article 14 of the UN Convention against Torture (UNCAT) provides victims of torture and ill-treatment with an explicit right to rehabilitation. This is further clarified in the Committee against Torture's General Comment No 3 (2012), which explains the content and scope of the obligations under Article 14.
Despite the changes and measures taken to adjust the Moldovan legislation in line with international and European standards, torture and ill-treatment in state custody remain an alarming issue, because, in particular, of the lack of clear mechanisms to respond to the needs and problems of victims and their families.
The state response to the needs of victims and their rights to a comprehensive rehabilitation, as it is stated by General Comment No. 3 of CAT (2012) to Art. 14 UNCAT, has so far been ineffective. Rehabilitation and social reintegration of victims of torture, as a vulnerable group with special needs, has not been the object of activity or priority for the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Labor, Social Protection and Family (merged in 2017), or other state institutions despite previous recommendations suggested in various country reports.
The Ministry of Justice drafted the Law on Rehabilitation of Victims of Crimes (including torture), which was approved by Government on March 4, 2016, and by Parliament as Law No. 137 on July 29, 2016). Unfortunately, the law is not consistent with the requirements for right to rehabilitation for torture victims as outlined in Article 14 of the UNCAT and General Comment No. 3 of the Committee against Torture (2012). Specifically, Art. 2 of the Law states that the victims will receive support only in the form of information about existing services, psychological and legal counseling and compensation, thus disregarding the need for medical and social assistance. Further, Art. 9 of the Law restricts the length of psychological counseling to three months or, as a maximum, six months. With regard to torture victims, this raises a number of concerns, including the fact that the law fails to take a holistic and long-term approach to rehabilitation. Survivors of torture need comprehensive mental health services, not only the psychological counseling, as Law No. 137 stipulates. RCTV Memoria contributed with comments and recommendations to the working group of the Ministry of Justice but, unfortunately, those recommendations did not make it into the final text of the law.
More importantly, there are no existing state services that are capable of effectively addressing the complex needs of torture victims in a way where victims can trust that the services they are receiving are independent. No State institution has been assigned responsibility for developing rehabilitation programs and no financial resources have been allocated to non-State services to do the work. Furthermore, the existing state institutions do not have staff with the necessary professional skills to be able to deal with traumatic after-effects of torture.
Even if an important inter-ministerial and inter-departmental document, the Rules as to the procedure for the identification, registration and reporting of alleged cases of torture, inhuman and/or degrading treatment has been created and approved on 31.12.2013 by the most relevant institutions — the General Prosecutor's Office, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Customs Service, the National Anti-Corruption Center, and the Ministry of Justice (by Order no. 969 of 20 March 2014), the referral system for rehabilitation of torture victims has not been created and in practice no referrals are taking place to RCTV Memoria, which is the only existing specialized rehabilitation center in Moldova.
Non-state rehabilitation services (provided by RCTV "Memoria") are insufficiently resourced and thus unable to cover the existing needs of all victims. The Center's treatment is comprehensive as it provides social, medical, legal, psychological, and mental health support. However, many victims in the country do not have access to these services, which is partly due to lack of references from the state institutions in charge of identifying and registering cases (including the Prosecution service).