Human rights group criticises Moldova's controversial Treason Law

Human rights group criticises Moldova's controversial Treason Law
Moldovan lawmakers passed the controversial legislation under an accelerated procedure but President Maia Sandu's approval is still needed. / bne IntelliNews
By bne IntelliNews June 4, 2024

Moldova’s presidency is due to consider controversial amendments to the treason section of the Criminal Code this week, after the changes were strongly criticised by human rights NGO Amnesty International. 

The amendments were passed by lawmakers on May 30 under an accelerated procedure with brief debates within the parliament and no public debates, according to NewsMaker.

Two majority lawmakers in Moldova’s parliament, Lilian Carp and Igor Chiriac (PAS), drafted the amendment to revise the article in the Criminal Code on treason, which provoked criticism because of the fine line between the need to have efficient legislation critical in the context of the hybrid war with Russia and the abuses that such legislation may facilitate.

The human rights organisation Amnesty International argues that the proposal threatens freedom of speech in Moldova.

Amnesty International Moldova executive director Veaceslav Tofan said the new definition of treason is “vague and vulnerable to abuse”. 

“The amendments to the Criminal Code of Moldova adopted by parliament are alarming. The expanded definition of treason is vague and vulnerable to abuse, particularly threatening the right to free speech. The new definition of treason can be used to combat political dissent and critical speech under the guise of countering malicious foreign influence. It is alarming that this law risks criminalising views and opinions that international law should protect,” Tofan said.

President Maia Sandu has not yet made a decision on the promulgation of the amendment, adopted as an addition to a Criminal Code amendment bill drafted last year. 

The head of the presidential administration, Adrian Balutel, told NewsMaker that he has not yet reviewed the bill .

“As soon as I see the documents received from parliament, we will review them with a team from the presidential administration, and I will be able to answer this question about the position of Madam President. I can’t give you an answer right now.”

Sandu's administration noted that studying and promulgating the project takes time, so they will be able to respond in the middle of the week.