Moldova

 CountryType of Law 
 
 

Moldova

Criminal Defamation

No provisions. Moldova repealed general criminal provisions on defamation and insult in 2009.

Note, however, that the Contravention Code of the Republic of Moldova provides for the following defamation-related offences:

Insult (Art. 69): Defined as “words or acts that humiliate a person’s honour or dignity made in public”. The penalty for insult is a fine of 20 to 60 conventional units , or by unpaid community service work for up to 60 hours (Art. 69(1)). The penalty for insults made through the media is a fine of 50 to 100 conventional units or by unpaid community service for up to 60 hour (Art. 69(2)).

Defamation (Art. 70): Defined as “the deliberate dissemination of fabrications that defame another person, accompanied by an allegation of the commission of an extremely serious crime or an exceptionally serious crime, or that has serious consequences”. The penalty for defamation is a fine of 80 to 120 conventional units, or unpaid community work for 20 to 60 hours, or by arrest for up to 15 days and by a fine of 120 to 250 conventional units for responsible persons with the deprivation of the right to hold certain positions or of the right to carry out certain activities for a period of three months to one year.

 

Criminal Defamation of Public Officials

Art. 9 of the Law on Freedom of Expression provides the freedom to criticise the state and any public authorities and persons holding public positions:
“(1) Any person shall have the right to criticise the state and the public authorities.
(2) The state and the executive, legislative and judicial authorities may not file lawsuits on matters of defamation.
(3) The state and the executive or legislative authorities shall not be protected by either criminal or administrative law against defamatory statements.
(4) The persons exercising public functions may be subject to criticism, and their actions verified by the mass media concerning the way in which they exercise or have exercised their functions, if this is necessary in order to ensure the transparency and responsible discharge of their functions.”

Par. 3 refers to the kind of defamation of public authority that may result in contravention or criminal liability. It is assumed that only judicial authorities could be protected by criminal law against defamation or minor offence, not the executive, legislative or the state as a legal entity. Therefore, damage to the image of the state cannot be considered as a circumstance that would affect qualification or punishment by public law.

Art. 366 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Moldova punishes “insulting a superior by a subordinate and insulting a subordinate by a superior in the course of the performance of duties related to military service” by community service for 60 to 240 hours or by imprisonment for up to six months.

Art. 317, par. 1 of the Contravention Code of the Republic of Moldova punishes showing disrespect in a court of law or to the Constitutional Court with a fine of 10 to 50 conventional units for individuals and by a fine of 50 to 100 conventional units for responsible persons.

 

Criminal Defamation of the Head of State

No provisions.

 

Criminal Defamation of the State and its Symbols

Profanation of state symbols (Criminal Code Art. 347):
1) Profanation of state symbols (coat of arms, flag, hymn) of the Republic of Moldova or of another state hoisted, used or intonated, shall be sanctioned by a fine of up to 850 conventional units or by community service for 100 to 200 hours.
2) The same action committed by two or more persons shall be punished by a fine in the amount of 350 to 1050 conventional units or by community service for 150 to 220 hours or by imprisonment for up to one year.
3) The actions set forth in pars. (1) or (2) committed by an official responsible for compliance with procedures on the use of state symbols shall be punished by a fine in the amount of 850 to 1,150 conventional units or by community service for 180 to 240 hours or by imprisonment for up to three years, in all cases with the deprivation of the right to hold certain positions or to practice certain activities for up to five years.”

It is considered possible that verbal insult of symbols could also be considered “profanation”. It is noted that in 2000 there were calls to prosecute former President Vladimir Voronin after he called the flag of the Republic of Moldova “fascist” .

Violations of procedures for the use of state symbols (Contravention Code Art. 322)
1) Deliberate violations of the procedures for the use of state symbols (flag, coat of arms, hymn) of the Republic of Moldova or of another state shall be sanctioned by a fine of 20 to 40 conventional units for individuals, by a fine of 35 to 75 conventional units for responsible persons and by a fine of 50 to 100 conventional units for legal entities.
2) Profanation of national symbols of the Republic of Moldova or of another state, others than indicated in para (1), if such actions do not constitute an infraction, or of territorial symbols or deliberate violations for the use of these symbols shall be sanctioned by a fine of 15 to 35 conventional units for individuals, by a fine of 30 to 60 conventional units for responsible persons and by a fine of 50 to 100 conventional units for legal entities.
3) Deliberate violations of the procedures for the use of corporate symbols of central specialised bodies of public administration, of corporate symbols of another central administrative authorities or of the National Army shall be sanctioned by a fine of 10 to 20 conventional units for individuals or by community service for 20 to 40 hours, by a fine of 15 to 35 conventional units for responsible persons and by a fine of 40 to 75 conventional units for legal entities.
4) Unauthorised use of registered private symbols shall be punished by a fine of 5 to 10 conventional units for individuals, by a fine of 10 to 20 conventional units for responsible persons and by a fine of 30 to 50 conventional units for legal entities.
5) Display or use in any way of signs unregistered as established by the legislation on the state as a national symbol, territorial or as a symbol of corporate specialised body of central public administration, as a symbol of another corporate administrative authorities central or National Army, shall be punished by a fine of 15 to 35 conventional units for individuals, by a fine of 30 to 60 conventional units for responsible persons, by a fine of 50 to 100 conventional units for legal entities.

 

Criminal Defamation of Foreign Heads of State

No provisions.

 

Criminal Defamation of Foreign States and Symbols

The following provisions on profanation of the symbols of the Republic of Moldova also apply to the symbols of other (foreign) states.

Profanation of state symbols (Criminal Code Art. 347):
4) Profanation of state symbols (coat of arms, flag, hymn) of the Republic of Moldova or of another state hoisted, used or intonated, shall be sanctioned by a fine of up to 850 conventional units or by community service for 100 to 200 hours.
5) The same action committed by two or more persons shall be punished by a fine in the amount of 350 to 1050 conventional units or by community service for 150 to 220 hours or by imprisonment for up to one year.
6) The actions set forth in pars. (1) or (2) committed by an official responsible for compliance with procedures on the use of state symbols shall be punished by a fine in the amount of 850 to 1,150 conventional units or by community service for 180 to 240 hours or by imprisonment for up to three years, in all cases with the deprivation of the right to hold certain positions or to practice certain activities for up to five years.”

Violations of procedures for the use of state symbols (Contravention Code Art. 322)
6) Deliberate violations of the procedures for the use of state symbols (flag, coat of arms, hymn) of the Republic of Moldova or of another state shall be sanctioned by a fine of 20 to 40 conventional units for individuals, by a fine of 35 to 75 conventional units for responsible persons and by a fine of 50 to 100 conventional units for legal entities.
7) Profanation of national symbols of the Republic of Moldova or of another state, others than indicated in para (1), if such actions do not constitute an infraction, or of territorial symbols or deliberate violations for the use of these symbols shall be sanctioned by a fine of 15 to 35 conventional units for individuals, by a fine of 30 to 60 conventional units for responsible persons and by a fine of 50 to 100 conventional units for legal entities.
8) Deliberate violations of the procedures for the use of corporate symbols of central specialised bodies of public administration, of corporate symbols of another central administrative authorities or of the National Army shall be sanctioned by a fine of 10 to 20 conventional units for individuals or by community service for 20 to 40 hours, by a fine of 15 to 35 conventional units for responsible persons and by a fine of 40 to 75 conventional units for legal entities.
9) Unauthorised use of registered private symbols shall be punished by a fine of 5 to 10 conventional units for individuals, by a fine of 10 to 20 conventional units for responsible persons and by a fine of 30 to 50 conventional units for legal entities.
10) Display or use in any way of signs unregistered as established by the legislation on the state as a national symbol, territorial or as a symbol of corporate specialised body of central public administration, as a symbol of another corporate administrative authorities central or National Army, shall be punished by a fine of 15 to 35 conventional units for individuals, by a fine of 30 to 60 conventional units for responsible persons, by a fine of 50 to 100 conventional units for legal entities.

 

Criminal Defamation of the Deceased

No provisions.

 

Criminal Blasphemy

No provisions.

Note that the Contravention Code of the Republic of Moldova provides in Art. 54(5): “Offending the religious feelings of individuals; the desecration of objects venerated by them or of their locales, monuments or their symbols shall be sanctioned by a fine of 20 to 30 conventional units or by unpaid community work for 40 to 60 hours.”

 

Criminal Statistics

N/A

 

Criminal Law and Media

N/A

 

Recent Legal Changes

Moldova repealed general criminal defamation laws in 2009 and adopted the Law on Freedom of Expression in 2010. These moves were a response to the fact that the European Court of Human Rights had found in more than 10 decisions that Moldovan courts had settled defamation cases in a way that violated freedom of expression.

Despite the positive changes noted above, Moldova has still not fully repealed criminal defamation laws, with the following provisions still on the statute books: Art. 347, prohibiting the ‘profanation of national and State symbols’; and Art. 366, punishing those who are involved in the military for the offence of ‘insulting a military person’ by a subordinate.

 

Notes and Acknowledgements

Information for Moldova was originally collected by IPI as part of a study commissioned by the Office of the Representative on Freedom of the Media of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). It is reprinted here with the permission of the OSCE. Last update: March 2017.

The information contained in this database is for informational and advocacy purposes only. If you are a journalist facing a defamation claim, you should seek legal advice from a qualified attorney. However, if you are unable to find such an attorney, IPI may be able to assist you in doing so. Please contact us at info(at)ipi.media.

 

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