18 September 2013
The Committee on the Rights of the Child today considered the initial report of the Republic of Moldova on how the country was implementing the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
Presenting the report, Eugeniu Moraru, Director of the Centre for Combating Cyber Crimes under the Ministry of Internal Affairs, said the Republic of Moldova had adopted a new strategy for the protection of children and family and ratified the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. Other efforts to implement the Optional Protocol included adherence to the Global Alliance against online child sexual abuse and the strengthening of domestic legislation.
In an interactive dialogue Committee Members asked what measures were being taken to tackle forced child labour and cyber-crime grooming of children on the internet, about the extradition of Moldovan residents accused of committing related crimes abroad, and about the treatment of Moldovans who had been victims of sexual exploitation abroad. Other issues raised included training for social worker, legislation around domestic and international adoptions, support for victims of crimes of a sexual nature and awareness-raising activities for the parents of children at high risk of sexual exploitation.
In concluding remarks Peter Guran, Country Co-Rapporteur for the Republic of Moldova, said that the Committee’s recommendations would hopefully help the Republic of Moldova strengthen further its efforts in combating crimes against children.
The Delegation of the Republic of Moldova included representatives from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Social Protection and Family, the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights and Interethnic Relations, and the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Moldova to the Office of the United Nations at Geneva and other international organizations in Geneva.
The next public meeting of the Committee will take place at 9.30 a.m. on Friday, 20 September in Room XVI of the Palais des Nations, when the Committee considers the initial report of Tuvalu (CRC/C/TUV/1) via video conference. The Committee will meet in private that afternoon.
The initial report of the Republic of Moldova under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography can be read here: CRC/C/OPSC/MDA/1.
Presentation of the Report
EUGENIU MORARU, Director of the Centre for Combating Cyber Crimes of the General Inspectorate of Police, Ministry of Interior, presenting the report, said that the Republic of Moldova remained firmly committed to promoting the rights of the child. The country had recently presented its combined second and third periodic reports concerning the implementation of the Convention and had taken into consideration the recommendations of the Committee in drafting its very first strategy, the Strategy for the Protection of the Child and the Family: 2013 to 2020. It was a policy document that aimed to develop a system of protection for families with children at risk. Children, their families, and civil society had been consulted on the preparation of that strategic document. At the international level, in 2011 the Republic of Moldova ratified the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. It had also joined the Global Alliance against online child sexual abuse.
The current legal framework provided effective safeguards to ensure the rights and freedoms of children. Rape and other acts of sexual violence against minors were criminalized in the Moldovan Criminal Code. Child trafficking was also criminalized and punishable by law. The Criminal Procedure Code provided for special arrangements for the hearing of children up to 14 years in criminal cases, the victims of trafficking, and the victims of domestic violence. Other measures for the protection of children included guaranteed State legal services for children in conflict with the law and the collection and administration of information on children who came into contact with the justice system. Furthermore, a new law had been adopted on the protection of children at risk and of children who were separated from their parents, while a comprehensive assessment of the situation of children in difficulty and of children whose parents were abroad had been taken.
The Republic of Moldova was undertaking several awareness-raising efforts, including the creation of the Centre for Combating Cyber Crimes under the General Police Inspectorate, which aimed to disseminate information on the sexual abuse of children via the internet. Collaboration with civil society in that regard was important and ongoing. The police carried out information and training activities in middle and high schools, through which children were familiarized with issues relating to crimes involving infants, in addition to other regular prevention and capacity-building activities. So far in 2013 over 10,000 persons had been reached through awareness-raising activities and 100 capacity-building events had been organized.
Questions by Experts
RENATE WINTER, Committee Member acting as Country Rapporteur for the Republic of Moldova, commended positive developments such as the amendments to the penal code, adoption of a new law to combat trafficking in persons, adoption of national plans to facilitate implementation of the Optional Protocol, and the establishment of a specialized centre to tackle cyber crime. Ms. Winter asked what stage the national strategy on child and family protection was at.
Ms. Winter said that sex tourism appeared to be a major problem in the Republic of Moldova. She asked what measures had been taken to prevent the recruitment and involvement of children in the sex industry for tourists, and for statistical data. What measures had been taken to combat forced child labour, and cyber crime such as grooming on the internet of children above the age of 16 years? She also asked whether the Criminal Code had provisions for the extradition of Moldovan citizens wanted for crimes committed abroad, in cases where the Republic of Moldova was unable to prosecute them.
PETER GURAN, Committee Member acting as Country Co-Rapporteur for the Republic of Moldova, asked about the status and competencies of the institutional working group dealing with obstacles in the implementation of the Optional Protocol. Concerning data collection, what indicators and data collection system did the Republic of Moldova use to gather information under the Optional Protocol? Had the Republic of Moldova adopted the national strategy on the implementation of the Optional Protocol?
Mr. Guran said the Committee had received a large number of reports about Moldovans returning from European Union countries where they had been sexually exploited and receiving no support or assistance upon arrival in their home country. What was the State party doing to help the victims of sexual exploitation who returned to the Republic of Moldova?
An Expert said that there were many definitions of different crimes against children in the laws, and that the overall impression was that Moldovan legislation focused more on trafficking in children instead of the sale of children. The definition of pornography, on the other hand, was absolutely in line with the Optional Protocol. Was the Republic of Moldova planning on bringing the idea of the sale of children into the Criminal Code? Did Moldovan courts cover all crimes of Moldovan citizens abroad in the same way that they covered crimes committed within Moldovan jurisdiction?
An Expert asked about programmes to reduce the vulnerability of specific groups of children to child pornography and prostitution, groups who were at high risk of being exploited. How effective was the accessibility of hotlines in terms of reporting? What kind of training programmes for social workers, teachers and law enforcement agents who dealt with children were in place? Had the Republic of Moldova established any awareness-raising programmes specifically designed for the parents of children at high risk?
An Expert wanted to know whether there had been an assessment of the effectiveness of the methods used to inform officials about the Optional Protocol. Following the dismantling of a paedophile ring in Chisinau, what lessons had the Republic of Moldova learnt about the content of its legislation and the implementation of its laws on child pornography?
Response by the Delegation
Responding to the questions asked by Committee Experts, the delegation said that the Republic of Moldova had recently established the National Council for the Protection of the Rights of the Child, which was a strategic body that adopted policies to protect children’s rights and family rights. The activities of the Council were carried out under the provisions of the Convention. A Working Group had been created within the National Council to manage drafting and submission of initial and periodic reports under the Convention. The Ministry of Internal Affairs was responsible for the implementation of the Convention, in cooperation with other public authorities.
The distribution of child pornography was criminalized in 2008, after which several amendments were made to the Criminal Code. In 2011 a unit was created to combat child trafficking on the internet and, more recently, the Centre for Combating Cyber-Crime had been established to deal more effectively with such issues.
The draft national strategy for the protection of family and the child had not yet been adopted but would be adopted by the Parliament at a later stage. In the meantime, a plan of action for the promotion of the strategy was being finalized and financial resources had been committed.
Concerning cooperation agreements signed by the Republic of Moldova, the delegation said that the text of the memorandum with “La Strada” could be found on the internet. Official data showed that there had been a considerable decrease in child sex tourism after the recent dismantling of several child trafficking rings. There were now comprehensive mechanisms in place closely monitoring developments in that area.
Regarding legislation on trafficking in children, the delegation said that new laws criminalized not only the child trafficker but also the recipient. Grooming a child on the internet was a cyber-crime and was punishable by up to five years imprisonment. Websites with illegal content were banned and there was also a strategy aimed at making the internet friendlier and safer for children.
The Republic of Moldova had concluded a number of bilateral agreements in the region and had also established effective mechanisms of cooperation with neighbouring countries, such as Romania and Belarus. Agreements were also due to be signed with countries outside Europe, such as the United Arab Emirates.
In cases where Moldovan citizens had committed crimes abroad, extraditions were handled by the Ministry of Justice and the process was facilitated wherever there were reciprocal extradition agreements with other States. The Criminal Proceedings Code gave the Republic of Moldova extraterritorial jurisdiction over crimes committed by or against Moldovan citizens abroad.
Concerning the issue of adoption, the delegation said that the Ministry of Social Protection operated a national database of children who were available for adoption and of families who wanted to adopt a child. In accordance with the law on adoption, foreign organizations authorized to engage in international adoption had to go through a procedure of accreditation before proceeding with international adoptions. Accreditation was carried out once a year and foreign international organizations had to submit periodic reports on the situation of adopted children. The Republic of Moldova followed up on children who had been adopted nationally and internationally. At the national level, it was the local authorities that checked on the adopted children, while at the international level Moldovan embassies carried out the task in collaboration with the local authorities of the foreign country.
The Republic of Moldova actively promoted a healthy lifestyle and the prevention of violence, a delegate said. Awareness-raising activities took place to familiarize citizens with criminal and administrative legislation and recommend ways that children could avoid such violent situations.
Information about the risks of child pornography, trafficking in children, and sale and sexual exploitation were widely disseminated, a delegate said.
The National Institution of Justice carried out regular training sessions related to the international instruments ratified by The Republic of Moldova. Furthermore, police officers participated in Interpol training to familiarize themselves with investigation systems and learn how best to cooperate with Interpol and join Interpol’s international database.
When children were interviewed as part of legal or criminal proceedings, questions put to them during were addressed through a child psychologist. Six special rooms for interviewing of children were available in public justice buildings, such as the Prosecutor’s Office.
All domestic laws now clearly established the definition of a child as any person under the age of 18 years old. The age of sexual consent in the Republic of Moldova was 16 years old.
Concerning the compensation of victims by the State, the delegation said that victims of crimes of a sexual nature could bring civil complaints against the perpetrators and claim compensation. However, the delegation reminded the Committee that the Republic of Moldova was a source rather than a destination country for trafficking in children.
Assistance and support were offered to child victims of crimes of a sexual nature, as set out in relevant laws. The treatment of victims of crimes of sexual exploitation involved the emergency placement of children in centres where specialist services were provided, followed by their placement in foster families.
Data collection was carried out regularly by the competent department of the Ministry of Social Affairs, and statistics disaggregated by gender were available. The delegation said that there was no separate budget for the Optional Protocol.
Training programmes, including seminars and other courses conducted in collaboration with non-governmental organizations, were regularly offered to officials dealing with child protection issues, especially prosecutors, judges, police officers and social workers, in order to help them fulfil their duties. Training was offered in all regions of the Republic of Moldova, not only in the capital.
PETER GURAN, Committee Member acting as Country Co-Rapporteur for the Republic of Moldova, thanked the delegation for a very informative presentation and said that the recommendations of the Committee would hopefully help the Republic of Moldova to further strengthen its efforts in combating crimes against children.
EUGENIU MORARU, Director of the Centre for Combating Cyber Crimes of the General Inspectorate of the Police, Ministry of Internal Affairs, thanked the Committee for its comments and questions and said that the Republic of Moldova would continue to work hard on the implementation of the Optional Protocol to achieve even better results. Future work would include continued awareness-raising activities in order to change people’s attitudes towards crimes against children, and increasing the capacity of national actors active in the field of crime prevention.
For use of the information media; not an official record