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“Promotion of linguistic rights and strengthening unity are key for Moldova” – UN rights expert

Russian | Romanian

CHISINAU / GENEVA (30 June 2016) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Rita Izsák-Ndiaye, yesterday called on the Government of the Republic of Moldova to further promote linguistic rights of minorities and strengthen the unity between various population groups in the country.

“Diversity should be valued as an important asset and strength of the Republic of Moldova,” the independent human rights expert said at the end of her first official visit* to the country.

“Unity in diversity should be promoted in school textbooks, especially in history teaching, through mass media programs and by ensuring the participation of all communities in decision-making processes,” Ms. Izsák-Ndiaye said while noting Moldova’s complex ethnic, religious and linguistic make-up, where numerous minority groups with multi-layered ethnic, religious and linguistic identities peacefully coexist.

Commenting on the possible deepening divide along ethnic, linguistic and other communal lines of the society, she said: “The future of the Republic of Moldova must be shaped and defined based on such values and principles as respect for human rights, good and inclusive governance and minority rights protection and not by geopolitical labels.”

Ms. Izsák-Ndiaye noted the existence of a good legal and institutional framework on minority rights in the country and called for dedicated budget to ensure their actual implementation. She stressed the need for a dedicated minority rights mechanism at Government level, responsible for minority issues to fill the existing institutional protection gap.

“I have observed that the use of mother tongue is highly important and emotive for many communities and an essential aspect of personal and community identity,” she said. “Measures must be taken to minimize the politicization of the use of languages which often leads to polarization and might threaten peaceful coexistence if not resolved.”

In that regard, the Special Rapporteur encouraged the Government to take the necessary measures to guarantee quality education in both mother tongue and the State language (Moldovan/Romanian). She called for the introduction of multilingual education methodologies and multilingual classrooms.

“Public administration services must ensure the use of the State language, Russian and other minority languages,” the expert urged. “Moreover, measures should be taken to increase and strengthen the broadcasting in minority languages.”

Ms. Izsák-Ndiaye commended the creation of a working group of members of the Moldovan Parliament and the Gagauzian Peoples’ Assembly to discuss matters of common concerns. “Communication channels have to remain open and there is a need for continuous trust-building between the central administration and minority territories and communities,” she stressed.
The expert consulted with numerous Roma activists in Chisinau and visited Roma communities in different localities, including Soroca, Otaci, Schinoasa and Chetrosu. “Economic, social and political marginalization of Roma, as well as instances of discrimination and xenophobia against Roma communities were reported by Roma representatives,” she said.

“Identity documents are often lacking, drop-out rates among Roma students are significantly high, and Roma representatives expressed their concern that Roma are largely absent from decision-making processes and in public life, both at local and national levels,” she noted.

The expert referred to the establishment of Roma community mediators as instrumental to achieve integration and combat marginalization, and called for measures to be taken to fill all vacant mediator positions and considerations to be given to cover their salaries from the central budget.

During her ten-day mission, the Special Rapporteur visited Chisinau, the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia, Balti, Edinet, Hincauti, Orhei, Otaci, Schinoasa, Soroca, and Taraclia, where she consulted a wide range of stakeholders including Government and UN officials, minority communities, civil society groups and representatives of ethnic, linguistic and religious minority groups. She also visited the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova.

Following her visit, the UN Expert will present a final mission report and recommendations to the Human Rights Council in March 2017.

(*) Check the Special Rapporteur’s full end-of-mission statement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=20201&LangID=E


Ms. Rita Izsák-Ndiaye (Hungary) was appointed as Independent Expert on minority issues by the Human Rights Council in June 2011 and subsequently her mandate was renewed as Special Rapporteur on minority issues in March 2014. She is tasked by the UN Human Rights Council, to promote the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, among other things. Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Minorities/SRMinorities/Pages/SRminorityissuesIndex.aspx

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

Read the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/Minorities.aspx

UN Human Rights, country page – Republic of Moldova: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/MDIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact:
In Chisinau (during the visit): Mr. Veaceslav Balan (+373 69 578 378 / vbalan@ohchr.org)
In Geneva (before and after the visit): Ms. Margarita Lema (+41 22 917 9248 / mlematome@ohchr.org) or write to  minorityissues@ohchr.org.

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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