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UN TREATY BASED MECHANISMS AND REFUGEE ISSUES
Seminar held in Chisinau Moldova, 15-16 June 2001

Published in Chisinau, 2002

 

Foreword
Oldrich ANDRYSEK
UNHCR Representative

Human rights issues, notably those pertaining to the right to asylum, are an integral part of ensuring the rule of law in a democratic society. While refugee problems tend to be sensitive and elusive (the Republic of Moldova is no exception in this regard), Moldova faces a particular difficult set of problems due to the unresolved Transdniestrian conflict and a still on-going transformation process to a market economy. As the Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Chisinau I and my colleagues follow developments closely, trying to assist the Government to find solutions that are most suited to meet the needs of Moldovan society and that will prove sustainable in the longer term.

One area of UNHCR's activity is the transfer of know-how, the sharing of best experiences and providing access to applicable international standards and acceptable practice. UNHCR has, for example, as part of a wider effort to assist in the process of drafting the Moldovan law on refugees, organised in co-operation with the Council of Europe two international seminars for experts and practitioners (last year on the "Legal status of refugees and asylum-seekers and the European Convention on Human Rights "). After passing its first hurdle (first reading in the Moldovan Parliament in May 2001), the law now awaits closer scrutiny and polishing and logically complements the Government's declared intention to accede to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees by the end of the year.
The Parliamentary Working Group has a substantial task before it and

UNHCR is encouraged to see how seriously it continues to seek an optimal solution by reflecting on comments received from UNHCR or the Council of Europe. Refugee matters are, however, not only governed by the European or 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention. It is time to consider other relevant international instruments, notably the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention Against Torture, and the so called "Treaty based mechanisms ". Hence the objective of the Seminar

held under the auspices of the Speaker of the Parliament and the title of the 3rd volume of this series.

In this volume, the reader has the opportunity to reflect on a number of papers delivered to the Seminar. Of course, although the participants had the privilege to acquire a first hand account and to debate some of the more delicate issues, we trust that now also other experts and academics will have the opportunity to consider the words of such eminent personalities as were Prof. Alfred de Zayas (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights) or Judge John Freeman (Vice-President of the Immigration Appeal Tribunal, UK). Given the international character of the refugee problem UNHCR was most grateful to the international guests, MM. Anatoly Bubich (Belarus), Corneliu Alexandru (Romania) and Sergey Hacman (the Ukraine) who took time out to share with their Moldovan counterparts invaluable practical experience from their own jurisdictions. As proof of the progress and level of expertise achieved in Moldova, the reader is highly recommended to read the opening statements of the Speaker of the Parliament, H.E. Ms. Eugenia Ostapciuc and the Minister of Labour, H.E. Mr. Valerian Revenco, and reflect on the comprehensive papers submitted by Ms. Ecaterina Silvestru and Mr. Leontie Suholitco.

In a previous Foreword to a Seminar publication I perhaps noted the obvious, but a reality that States often tried to shy away from in terms of lasting solutions: "Europe unfortunately once again not only hosts refugees, but also produces them in their millions. Conflicts, intolerance and persecution drive people from their homes on our "own " continent, confirming the sad truth that no country is immune to the consequences of forced flight". Obviously, the problems caused by displacement and conflicts do not lend themselves to short-term fixes and uncoordinated responses. Intergovernmental organisations realised already after World War II and the Council of Europe or the United Nations have led the way in formulating standards and when authorised, monitor or even enforce compliance. This volume provides the Moldovan reader rich new insights not only because much of the case law of United Nations bodies still awaits translation into the Moldovan language, but also because he/she gains access to two documents that provide invaluable guidance on the applicability of Article

3 of the Convention Against Torture and the Human Rights Committee's General Comment on Aliens.

UNHCR was very encouraged to observe the thoughtful exchanges between Government officials, judges and members of the academia. I personally was glad to see that also representatives of NGOs and students of law formulate their own views, that while the refugee problem in Moldova may still linger in a domestic legal and structural void, the intellectual exchange to address the fundamental issues at stake is irreversible. It is only a matter of time when Moldova will equip itself to assume its international moral and legal responsibilities and it gives me great satisfaction that in my capacity as UNHCR Representative in Moldova I and my Office can assist in this objective.

Moldova, September 2001


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Draft Agenda..........95

Oldrich Andrysek Foreword..........98

Eugenia Ostapciuc Opening statement..........101

Valerian Revenco Opening statement..........104

Alfred de Zayas Human Rights and Refugees..........106

John Freeman Strasburg and Geneva: two Conventions, one level of protection?..........124

Corneliu Alexandra Legislation and Practice on Asylum..........130

Anatol Bubici..........135

Serghei Hacman Legal framework regarding refugees and asylum-seekers in the Ukraine and first steps towards its implementation..........140

Mihail Sidorov Right to asylum in the Republic of

Moldova..........148

Leontie Suholitco Informational review on some aspects of asylum-seekers registration..........151

Igor Ciobanu The asylum system in the UK..........155

Ecaterina Silvestru Informational review on the situation of refugees in the Republic of Moldova..........173

List of Participants..........179

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