MDAC started working in Moldova in December 2010, responding to an invitation from the United Nations Development Program to become involved in the country.


Current situation

There are currently more than 170,000 persons certified as “invalid” in Moldova, the current term in Moldovan law for persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities face discrimination, social exclusion, poverty, unemployment, life in segregated institutions, low quality education, and inaccessibility to the general system of social protection.

As a State Party to the CRPD Moldova has on paper committed to implementation of the right of persons with disabilities to live in the community, and the right to legal capacity. In ratifying OPCAT, Moldova has pledged to monitor the human rights of those who remain deprived of their liberty in psychiatric and social care institutions. Although the government has started to decrease the number of beds in some of its large institutions for persons with disabilities, tens of thousands still reside in psychiatric and social care institutions where they are at risk of inhuman conditions, exploitation and abuse, and abuse of physical and chemical restraint.

The Moldovan Parliament is currently in the process of introducing new equality instruments in an effort to bring Moldovan laws in line with regional and international human rights standards. The content of the recently-adopted draft law on Preventing and Combating Discrimination attempts to ensure that Moldovan equality law conforms with European Union equality law. While MDAC welcomes these steps, we have concerns that the draft law does not go far enough in order to meet EU and United Nations standards by not, for example, including provisions on reasonable accommodation. 


MDAC activities

Capacity-building: In March 2013 MDAC carried out training for people with disabilities to be effective monitors of places of detention and cooperate with Moldova’s National Preventive Mechanism established under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture. Participants learned about torture prevention standards, monitoring methodology, interviewing skills, and carried out a pilot visit to the Chisinau Psychiatric Hospital. The training was held by MDAC staff and Kay Sheldon and Jolijn Santegoeds, both of whom are users/survivors of psychiatry and have direct experience with psychiatric detention and forced treatment. The training was funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. You can read our Executive Director’s blog on the event here.

In March 2012 MDAC delivered a training session on how to prevent torture and ill-treatment against people with disabilities by monitoring the rights of detainees in psychiatric and social care institutions. Participants included representatives of the Ombudsman Office (the Center for Human Rights), the National Preventive Mechanism, and Non-Governmental Organisations. As part of the four-day training, participants carried out an inspection in one of Moldova’s psychiatric hospitals and were trained on how to prepare monitoring reports. The training was co-organised with the ‘Strengthening the Forensic Examination of Torture and other Forms of Ill-treatment in Moldova’ project, funded by the European Union and co-funded and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme, and the UN Human Rights Adviser.

In December 2010 MDAC co-organised a capacity-building event with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Moldova on monitoring methodology for mental health and social care institutions in order to prevent ill-treatment. In December 2010 MDAC also put on an advocacy event for government representatives and directors of mental health institutions on legal capacity law reform’.

Advocacy: In September 2013 MDAC submitted a shadow report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women documenting widespread human rights violations against women with disabilities in Moldovan psychiatric and social care institutions. These include the use of forced psychiatric treatment, overcrowding, the use of restraints and seclusion techniques to control detainees, and a worrying lack of oversight. MDAC has also reported evidence of violations based on gender including the use of forced abortions, a high prevalence of sexual violence and degrading conditions including a lack of toilet paper, tampons and pads for female residents.

In October 2013 the Committee called on women with disabilities to be protected from abuse, highlighting sexual assault in residential institutions, involuntary treatment, and forced sterilisation. In order to ensure the autonomy of women with disabilities, the Committee encouraged the Moldovan government to reform the “discriminatory guardianship system”, telling the government to “bring it in conformity with Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”

In early 2011 MDAC submitted recommendations to the Moldovan Parliament urging parliamentarians to make changes to the discrimination bill so that it fully complies with European and United Nations standards.

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