Justice and security

Enhancing the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Efforts in Moldova

Association for Cooperation and Sustainable Development


This blog represents a summary of the discussions that took place during two workshops organized February and March 2024 in the framework of the project "Rule of Law Resilience in Moldova", co-financed by Knowledge Management Fund. These workshops aimed to identify practical measures to support the anticorruption and rule of law resilience in the Republic of Moldova through the exchange of experiences, challenges, and best practices among professionals in law enforcement. Participants included police officers, prosecutors, security experts, and representatives from civil society organizations from Moldova and Romania. The discussions focused on enhancing the capacity and independence of anticorruption agencies, improving communication strategies, and fostering collaboration between anticorruption agencies and civil society. The final workshop reports may be downloaded here.

Struggles and Challenges Faced by Anti-Corruption Agencies in the Republic of Moldova

Capacity and Independence Issues

One of the critical challenges faced by the Anticorruption Prosecutor's Office (APO) in Moldova is its struggle for operational independence and adequate resources in order to deliver expected results. The APO has been grappling with significant operational difficulties due to the lack of adequate space, equipment and support staff. These issues became more pronounced in 2024 following APO functional separation from the National Anticorruption Center (NAC). Currently, the APO shares premises with the NAC, a situation that has proven inadequate given the scale and sensitivity of their operations. This space constraint is a major obstacle, hindering the efficient investigation and prosecution of high-level corruption Ensuring the independence of the APO is crucial. The legal framework mandates that the APO operates autonomously, yet the full implementation of this mandate has been sluggish. Strengthening the independence of the APO involves continuous effort to protect it from political influence, ensure transparent and merit-based appointments, allowing more powers to the chief-prosecutor to select her team. The lack of complete statistics with final decisions and amounts actually executed affects the credibility of the fight against corruption.

Criminal Asset Recovery Agency needs more consolidation of its institutional autonomy. There is a need for improvement of the legal framework governing asset recovery. This includes promoting legislation that transposes new European Directive on confiscation, clarifies the grounds and procedures for seizure, special investigation techniques and addresses the post-conviction asset identification and repatriation. The operationalization of the automated registry of seized criminal assets and ensuring cybersecurity for this system are also critical needs that are yet to be fully addressed​.

The National Integrity Authority (ANI) also faces significant challenges. ANI's mandate includes verifying asset declarations and managing integrity issues among public officials, but it struggles with several operational and legal hurdles. There is still no final unexplained wealth confiscation court order although there are numerous cases pending. ANI has insufficient access to information on assets held abroad and it lacks capacity to establish the beneficial owner of assets registered under other people's names. Also, the legal framework on incompatibilies has to be streamlined. The integrity agency's work is also hampered by a lack of attractiveness for positions due to uncompetitive salaries and demanding work place. To address these challenges, ANI adopted a new organizational structure and developed the risk-based verification of asset declarations. ANI seeks to extending verification to include virtual assets and the beneficial owners.

The NAC and SPIA are also important anticorruption agencies that struggle with different legal and operational challenges.

In addition to these operational challenges, anticorruption agencies and their representatives in Moldova have faced personal attacks and constant pressure to undermine their credibility. There have been several instances where politicians publicly questioned the professionalism and independence of the anticorruption agencies and their representatives. These statements create a hostile environment for anticorruption efforts and can significantly impact the morale and effectiveness of the agencies involved.

The vetting process for judges and prosecutors also presents underlying challenges, including lengthy evaluation terms, varying evaluation practices, contestation of the vetting results or the process entirely.

Current Justice Reform and Strategies

Strategic Approaches

To address these challenges, the justice reform in the Republic of Moldova focuses on strengthening the capacities and independence of anti-corruption institutions though several strategies and programs. These documents include measures improving human and financial resources and equipping agencies with advanced technical tools. Recent initiatives have seen the acquisition of advanced surveillance technology and data analysis tools, which enable more efficient investigations. These strategic approaches are designed to enhance the effectiveness of anti-corruption efforts and ensure that these agencies operate independently from political influences.

The main challenge identified by stakeholders is to ensure coordination and monitoring between all adopted strategic documents, also considering the extremely ambitious targets, multiple interdependencies, interconnections and institutional actors involved. It is necessary to increase the coherence, prioritization and clarity of strategic actions to provide time for the full implementation of the measures already adopted, monitoring and evaluation of their impact. Another strategic challenge is the lack of shared understanding, dialogue or consensus at the political and social level on the need to ensure the independence of the judiciary at large and anti-corruption specifically.


Opportunities for Collaboration with Romanian Counterparts

One of the significant outcomes of the workshops was the strengthen the relationship and identification of opportunities for Moldova's anticorruption agencies to collaborate more effectively with their Romanian counterparts. Strengthening bilateral relations can involve several aspects:

  • Joint Investigation Teams: Creating and multiplying joint investigation teams to tackle cross-border corruption and organised crime cases more effectively.
  • Efficient Data and Information Exchange: Establishing new mechanisms for efficient data and information exchange, including informal consultations and access to administrative data to asset declaration verification.
  • Judicial Assistance: Providing effective judicial assistance in criminal matters.
  • Public Communication: Presenting results from cross-border criminal cases through joint public events or press releases.
  • High-Level Cooperation: Enhancing cooperation and consultation at the leadership level of similar institutions in both countries. For instance, there is already good cooperation between the heads of integrity agencies and anticorruption prosecutors’ offices from both countries.
  • Implementation of Strategic Documents: Coordinating the implementation of anticorruption strategic documents. In Romania, the Ministry of Justice coordinates the implementation of the National Anticorruption Strategy (SNA), while in Moldova, the National Anticorruption Center (CNA) oversees the implementation of the National Integrity and Anticorruption Strategy (PNIA). Both countries face challenges such as insufficient personnel for policy monitoring and delays in implementing measures. Sharing best practices in this area can enhance overall effectiveness.
  • Civil Society Collaboration: Strengthening relationships between civil society organizations and anticorruption authorities in both countries. This can include involving civil society in monitoring and evaluating the implementation of anticorruption measures.

Communication of Anti-Corruption Results in a Polarized Society

In a polarized society like Moldova, facing significant security challenges and rampant disinformation, effectively communicating anti-corruption results is crucial. Transparency and openness from institutions are essential, but they must also employ tailored communication strategies to reach a diverse audience. Disinformation and security issues pose major obstacles to accurate public perception of anti-corruption efforts, requiring a concerted effort to counter these negative influences.

Various surveys highlight significant discrepancies in how citizens view the effectiveness and integrity of the justice system and anticorruption measures. Many citizens believe that corrupt practices, such as bribery and nepotism, are frequent within the justice system. According to a Magenta-IPRE survey in February 2024, 53% of citizens believe corruption is the main problem in the justice system, while 12% cite nepotism. Perceptions vary across institutions, with territorial prosecutor's offices and the General Prosecutor's Office seen as more corrupt compared to specialized offices like the Anticorruption Prosecutor's Office (PA) and the PCCOCS. Nevertheless, the 2023 IMAS survey shows that only 14% of citizens trust the Anticorruption Prosecutor's Office, while 77% express little or very little trust. Similarly, the National Anticorruption Center (CNA) and the General Prosecutor's Office are trusted by just 13% of the population. These perceptions underscore the importance of effective communication strategies to build public trust and support for anticorruption efforts.

Effective Communication Strategies

Integrated Communication Strategy A key aspect of improving the effectiveness of anticorruption efforts in Moldova involves enhancing how these efforts are communicated to the public. Participants in workshops concluded that it is essential to coordinate the communication efforts of the main anticorruption institutions (Anticorruption Prosecutor's Office, National Anticorruption Center, Criminal Assets Recovery Agency, SPIA and National Integrity Authority). They emphasized the need for a unified communication strategy that includes common messages and a joint anticorruption campaign, followed by an evaluation of the results. This strategy should aim to:

  • Encourage citizens and employees to report corruption;
  • Present the methods of reporting and guarantees against potential reprisals;
  • Explain the operational procedures of anticorruption agencies, the challenges they face, and their daily efforts from detection to conviction and asset confiscation;
  • Highlight the role of justice reforms and EU requirements regarding the rule of law and human rights

It is important also for the anticorruption agencies to uphold to the highest principles of confidentiality of evidences during criminal investigation to protect the integrity of the investigation, the rights of the accused, and the privacy of individuals involved while carefully balancing it with the public interest, transparency, and protection of the victims. Some guidelines and good practices in this respect prove necessary in the context of the communication strategy.

Partnerships with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) To further strengthen these communication efforts, it is crucial to develop partnerships with CSOs. Specific activities to be implemented include:

  • Regularly organizing press clubs by each anticorruption institution to facilitate ongoing dialogue and transparency;
  • Hosting public debates about the legal mechanisms of defending the reputation of judges and prosecutors, with independent monitoring by CSOs;
  • Conducting independent fact-checking and monitoring of public accusations against anticorruption institutions to ensure accuracy and counteract misinformation.

Balancing Citizen Expectations Managing public expectations is also crucial in maintaining trust and support for anticorruption efforts. Participants in recent discussions highlighted the importance of clearly communicating to citizens what can realistically be achieved in the short, medium, and long term. This involves explaining the complexities of anticorruption investigations, which require rigorous procedural standards for evidence collection and interpretation. Citizens need to understand the difference between public accusations of corruption, journalistic investigations, and formal criminal investigations. Not all public or journalistic accusations can be substantiated to the level required for legal action in court.

Additionally, it's important to communicate the real capacity of anticorruption agency, including the challenges they face such as lack of resources, continuous changes in legal framework, negative public perceptions, and unfounded public accusations. These factors can demotivate and drive away competent staff. Therefore, transparency about the operational limitations and the procedural requirements of anticorruption work helps manage public expectations and fosters a more supportive environment for these agencies.

These strategies and activities not only enhance the transparency and accountability of anticorruption efforts but also build public trust and combat the pervasive disinformation that can undermine these initiatives.


The struggle of anti-corruption agencies in the Republic of Moldova to consolidate their capacity and independence is a complex and ongoing battle. Addressing technical challenges and implementing strategic reforms are essential steps towards improving their effectiveness. Moreover, in a society plagued by disinformation and security challenges, effective communication of anti-corruption results is critical. By employing diverse communication strategies and involving the civil society, these agencies can build greater public trust and support. Continued reform and international collaboration are vital for sustaining these efforts and achieving long-term success in the fight against corruption.

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