Selection of Ombudsperson for Children in Moldova Ruled Unconstitutional

Source: The Alliance of Active NGOs in the Field of Social Protection of Family and Child from the Republic of Moldova (APSCF)

Moldova’s Constitutional Court has ruled today that the election of the Ombudsperson for Children decided in Moldova’s Parliament on 3 July took place in violation of existing legislation. The Alliance of Active NGOs in the Field of Social Protection of Family and Child from the Republic of Moldova (APSCF) has been summoned by the Constitutional Court to provide its opinion on the subject matter. APSCF welcomes the decision of the Constitutional Court and encourages the Parliament to proceed in the election of the Ombudsperson for Children responsibly, fully respecting the procedures and requirements provided by law.

The Ombudsperson for Children in Moldova was elected by the Moldovan Parliament on the 3rd of July. The new elected Ombudsperson was invested with a mandate of seven years to protect the best interest of every child in the country. Nonetheless, despite the fact that the election procedure was supposed to be transparent and beyond political favoritism, several mishandlings were detected by the national child-focused coalition, APSCF. The lack of timely information about the vacancy amongst potential candidates, the insufficient consultation of the civil society representatives in the selection process, the failure to incorporate the recommendations and the inputs of civil society representatives in the selection criteria are some of the key aspects that affected the final result of the election of the Ombudsperson for Children. Consequently, the candidates to the position were lacking consistent professional expertise in the field of child welfare, as well as a strong public profile in national and international circles.

At the notification of MP Anatol Șalaru to verify the constitutionality of the decision of the Moldovan Parliament, APSCF argued for all these election mishandlings in an official letter addressed to the Constitutional Court of Moldova, on the 10th of July. The Constitutional Court has declared the complaint admissible, agreeing to verify the constitutionality of the election in an extraordinary public meeting held today, on the 16th of July.

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Mariana Ianachevici, ChildPact President and Director of AVE Copiii, advocating on behalf of APSCF

APSCF was invited by the Constitutional Court as Amicus Curiae to participate at the meeting held this morning and present their position on the matter, together with other three NGOs working in the field of child protection.

Accordingly, in its position paper towards the Constitutional Court, APSCF together with the Legal Resource Centre of Moldova maintained their argument that the law explicitly requires that every candidate to the position of Ombudsperson for Children has at least ten years of work experience, with a notorious background in the field of human rights protection and promotion, in particular in children rights.

APSCF and the Legal Resources Centre of Moldova defined the concept of ‘notoriety’ in the field (here, child protection) through remarkable actions recognized by civil society representatives, professionals and experts at national and international levels. They argued that the Ombudsperson for Children has to: advocate for the best interest of children; be able to communicate with children and parents; monitor the implementation of child focused legislative measures in the field; understand and be experienced with the normative directives and with the delivery of child protection services in Moldova.

APSCF and the Legal Resources Centre of Moldova highlighted that according to current legislation the Ombudsperson for Children has to be a notorious and highly knowledgeable person in the field and that these requirements were not considered at the time of the election of the Ombudsperson for Children on 3 July.

The final decision of the Constitution Court is in line with the opinion presented by the Moldovan coalition representatives directly to the court in a public session that took place this morning, on 16 July. APSCF welcomes the decision of the Constitutional Court and encourages the Parliament to proceed in the election of the Ombudsperson for Children responsibly, fully respecting the procedures and requirements provided by law.