Law concerning the rights of persons belonging to the national minorities and the legal status of the organizations thereof

 

As a sign of devotion toward the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights laws, including the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities;

As a confirmation and further elaboration of the fundamental rights, freedoms and obligations of citizens granted under the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova;

Considering the ethnic, cultural, and linguistic diversity of the people of the Republic of Moldova throughout its history;

In view of the international legal principles according to which the protection of national minorities and of the rights and liberties of persons belonging to such minorities is an integral part of the protection of human rights;

The Parliament adopts the following organic law.

 

CHAPTER I: GENERAL PROVISIONS

 

            Art. 1 – For the purposes of this law, a person belonging to a national minority shall mean any person who resides on the territory of the Republic of Moldova and is a citizen thereof, and is further characterized by ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and religious particularities which distinguish said person from the majority of the population – the Moldovans –, and who considers himself or herself to be of a different ethnic origin.

            Art. 2 – Persons belonging to a national minority have the right to choose freely whether they belong to the respective minority. This choice or the exercise of rights in connection therewith shall not place the individual exercising such choice in an unfavorable position.

            Art. 3 – Relationships arising from or in connection with the exercise of the rights and freedoms conferred by membership in a national minority are subject to the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova, of this and other laws, as well as of the international treaties and agreements to which the Republic of Moldova is a party.

 

CHAPTER II: FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF PERSONS BELONGING TO

THE NATIONAL MINORITIES

 

            Art. 4 – (1) The state shall guarantee to persons belonging to the national minorities the right to equal consideration and equal protection before the law.

            (2) All forms of discrimination based on membership in a national minority are prohibited.

            Art. 5 – (1) The state shall provide the necessary conditions for the development and expression of the ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and religious identity of persons belonging to the national minorities.

            (2) The state shall organize scientific research in the fields of the history, language, and culture of national minorities.

            (3) Historical and cultural monuments of the national minorities are protected by the state.

            Art. 6 – (1) The state shall guarantee the exercise of the right of persons belonging to the national minorities to primary, secondary (general and vocational), higher, and postgraduate education in the Moldovan and Russian languages, and shall provide conditions for the exercise of said right to education and instruction in the mother tongue (Ukrainian, Gagauz, Bulgarian, Jewish, Yiddish etc.).

            (2) In order to provide instruction in educational institutions with teaching, either complete or in part, in the languages of national minorities, the state shall contribute to the elaboration of curricula and teachers’ literature, as well as to the training of teachers, and shall collaborate for this purpose with other countries.

            (3) Persons belonging to the national minorities shall enjoy the right to obtain a higher education and postgraduate diploma in their historical country under the relevant international treaties and agreements.

            (4) Persons belonging to the national minorities and their organizations shall have the right to establish pre-school educational institutions and private educational institutions at all levels of education. The study of Moldovan literature and language, and of the history of Moldova is mandatory in all educational institutions.

            Art. 7 – Persons belonging to the national minorities are entitled to use their respective mother tongues both orally and in writing, and to access, distribute, and exchange information in these languages.

            Art. 8 – (1) The state shall ensure the publication of normative acts, official communiqués and other information of national importance in the Moldovan and Russian languages.

            (2) In localities with a special autonomy status granted under Art. 111 of the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova, local normative acts, official statements, and other information shall also be published in the other official languages provided for in the laws granting such autonomy status.

            (3) In regions where persons belonging to the national minorities make up a significant percentage of the population, the documents of local public administration authorities shall be published, where necessary, in the language of the respective minority, as well as in Moldovan and Russian.

            Art. 9 – Government shall guarantee that changes in the administrative and territorial organization do not aim at changing the ethnic and demographic structure of the regions. Such changes shall consider the views of the local population, including the views of persons belonging to the national minorities.

            Art. 10 – The names of localities, streets, and public institutions shall be inscribed in both Moldovan and Russian, and in localities with a special autonomy status also in the other official languages, as provided for in the laws granting such autonomy status.

            Art. 11 – (1) Public information directly concerning the protection of health, public order and the security of citizens, as well as visual information displayed in the institutions of the Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Justice, General Attorney, in health institutions in the important cities and towns, in means of transportation, stations and ports, in airports and on the highways, shall be inscribed in both Moldovan and Russian.

            (2) In localities with a special autonomy status, information in paragraph (1) above may be inscribed in other official languages, as provided for in the laws granting such autonomy status.

            (3) In territories where persons belonging to the national minorities amount to a significant percentage of the population, information in paragraph (1) above shall be published, where necessary, also in the language of the respective minority.

            Art. 12 – (1) Persons belonging to the national minorities have the right to communicate with public institutions, both orally and in writing, in the Moldovan and Russian languages, and to be replied to in the same language in which the communication was originally delivered.

            (2) In localities with a special autonomy status, one of the official languages provided for in laws granting such autonomy status may also serve as the language of communication with public authorities.

            (3) In the regions where persons belonging to the national minorities amount to a significant percentage of the population, the language of the respective minority may also serve as a language of communication with the public authorities.

            Art. 13 – (1) Persons belonging to the national minorities or the organizations thereof have the right to establish mass-media institutions and publish literature in the language of the respective minorities, in accordance with the law.

            (2) The state shall ensure the broadcasting of programs in the languages of national minorities on state radio and TV channels.

            Art. 14 – (1) Persons belonging to the national minorities have the right to decide, in accordance with the law, on their personal attitudes toward religion, and in particular to choose their own confession, as well as to participate individually or collectively in religious activities of enlightenment in their mother or any other tongue which they accept, to perform rituals, maintain places of worship, and employ religious literature and ritual objects.

            Art. 15 – Persons belonging to the national minorities have the right to hold national holidays and commemorate historical dates, to participate in the traditional rituals of their people, and to display their national symbols.

            Art. 16 – (1) Persons belonging to the national minorities have the right to use their family names, given names and patronymic (where normally employed in the mother tongue) in official documents, in the form accepted by their mother tongue.

            (2) Should the mother tongue of persons belonging to the national minorities use an alphabet different from the Latin, the respective persons’ family names, given names and patronymics shall be transcribed into the Moldovan language in accordance with the norms concerning the transcription of foreign names.

            (3) Upon the registration of marital status documents and the issuing of personal ID’s, the authorities shall consider the wishes of individual persons with respect to the right set forth in paragraph (1) above.

            Art. 17 – The State shall contribute to facilitating human contacts between persons belonging to the national minorities and their historical homelands.

 

CHAPTER III: THE ORGANIZATIONS OF PERSONS BELONGING TO

THE NATIONAL MINORITIES

 

            Art. 18 – Persons belonging to the national minorities may exercise their rights, in accordance with the law, both individually and by associating with others in cultural, religious, enlightenment, and charitable organizations (associations, communities, societies etc.).

            Art. 19 – (1) The organizations of persons belonging to the national minorities shall enjoy the rights granted under applicable laws to civic associations.

            (2) No organization of persons belonging to the national minorities may claim complete and exclusive representation of the interests of the respective minority.

            Art. 20 – (1) The organizations of persons belonging to the national minorities shall enjoy the support of the state in carrying out programs in the fields of culture, science, education, enlightenment, historical research, and charity.

            (2) Several of the programs set out in paragraph (1) above, which are deemed of special interest and selected through public competition, shall be supported financially by the state.

            (3) The agency responsible for selecting, financing and monitoring the use of funds disbursed under paragraph (2) above is the Department for Interethnic Relations.

            (4) The organizations of persons belonging to the national minorities have the right to receive and use, in accordance with the law, donations made by legal or private persons.

            Art. 21 – In order to achieve their statutory objectives, the organizations of persons belonging to the national minorities have the right to cooperate with institutions and departments in other countries with competent jurisdiction over matters of interest for said organizations.

            Art. 22 – In elaborating and promoting policies in the fields of culture and education for the national minorities, the Government, the ministries, the departments, and the local public administration authorities shall consult with the organizations belonging to the national minorities affected by the respective decisions.

 

CHAPTER IV: THE RIGHT TO REPRESENATION AND PARTICIPATION

IN PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION

 

            Art. 23 – Persons belonging to the national minorities shall be represented in the Parliament and in the local councils through elections, in accordance with the legislation in force.

            Art. 24 – Persons belonging to the national minorities have the right to be represented approximately proportionally in all levels of the executive and judicial powers, in the army, and in the official institutions of the state.

            Art. 25 – (1) The agency in charge of promoting the government’s policies in the field of interethnic relations and, in particular, of enforcing the provisions of this law is the Department for Interethnic Relations.

            (2) The Department for Interethnic Relations shall be complemented by a consultative coordination council, which shall include among its members leaders of ethno-cultural associations.

            (3) The House of Nationalities, a cultural center for the ethno-cultural organizations in the Republic, shall be established as an agency subordinate to the Department for Interethnic Relations.

            (4) The General Director of the Department for Interethnic Relations shall be appointed by the Government with the agreement of the Parliamentary Commission for Human Rights and National Minorities.

 

CHAPTER V: FINAL PROVISIONS

 

            Art. 26 – The exercise of the rights and freedoms of persons belonging to the national minorities is conditional on the fulfillment of their duties toward the state of the Republic of Moldova, and may not restrict the rights and legitimate interests of other persons.

            Art. 27 – Nothing in this law may be construed as endangering the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova.

            Art. 28 – In the event that international legal instruments in the field of human rights to which the Republic of Moldova is a party stipulate provisions concerning the fundamental human rights and liberties, including the rights of persons belonging to the national minorities, which are different from the provisions herein, the provisions of said international legal instruments shall enjoy precedence.

            Art. 29 – Within a 3 months term the Government shall:

-         submit to the Parliament proposals for rendering the legislation in force compatible with this law;

-         adopt normative orders ensuring the enforcement hereof.