Moldova Not Implementing RTI Law, World Bank Reports

10 May 2013

Little has been done to implement Moldova’s 2000 right to information law, according to a report prepared for the World Bank.

“After almost a decade, the RTI system has been very inadequately institutionalized,” according to an examination of Moldova that was done as part of a broader World Bank report of the implementation of right to information laws. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.)

The Moldova law gets “little use,” according to the study, done by Sergiu Lipcean, a political scientist at the State University of Moldova, and Laura Stefan, an anticorruption expert from Romania.

The report points out that there is “no nodal agency overseeing implementation, and no information commission ensuring enforcement.”

“Recent open government initiatives promise to herald an era of transparency, but have been relatively disconnected from RTI,” commented the authors.

“Integrating attention to RTI in Open Government initiatives, will ensure that open government is not only a top-down process of government putting information online, but also one that is based on citizens’ rights and needs,” the summary says. Moldova is a member of the Open Government Partnership (OGP Moldova page) and has an open data initiative.

Weak Political Leadership Cited

According to the stakeholders interviewed for the study, the current situation “has its roots in weak political ownership (and, as a result, visibility), and a passive judiciary that is unwilling to create a coherent practice in this area.”

The report reviews the country’s political history of victory since 2001, including four years when control by the Party of Moldovan Communists led to a worsening of Moldova’s record on democracy, electoral practices, civil society, independence of the media, and independence of the judiciary. More recent years brought some advances in those areas, but “there was little space for implementation or exercise of the right to information.”

“In the past two years, increased pluralism and political competition has resulted in more details about public affairs put into the public domain, and requests for sensitive information have also gone up,” according to the report.

Institutional Problems Seen

“Little effort has been made to create mechanisms to ensure implementation across public institutions or to monitor compliance,” according to the report. “Regulations on how the law should be implemented have not been issued, so individual institutions are left to decide if and how supplementary regulations should be adopted (some did, most did not).

There is no dedicated budget allocated for the implementation of the law.

The judiciary has problems of capacity, integrity, and politicization, and judges “are poorly prepared to rule on the few ATI-related cases that come before them. Moreover, judges tend to stand with public institutions.”

Overall, the report states, “It is fair to say that for much of the time since its passage, the existence of a Moldovan RTI law has made little difference to the socio-political reality of the country.”

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