“The amendments made to the Law no.52/2014 in February 2023 remove the requirement for the Parliament of Moldova to approve the initiation of criminal proceedings against the People’s Advocate in case of flagrant and money laundering offenses, offenses related to inappropriate performance in the public sector, and illicit enrichment offense. 

The OPA reported that it has challenged the constitutionality of these amendments before the Constitutional Court of Moldova, to preserve the functional independence and the irrevocability of the People’s Advocate. 

The SCA emphasizes that national law should include provisions to protect members of an NHRI from legal liability for acts undertaken in good faith in their official capacity. Such provisions promote: 

– security of tenure; 

– the NHRI’s ability to engage in critical analysis and commentary on human rights issues free from interference; 

– the independence of senior leadership; and 

– public confidence in the NHRI. 

The SCA acknowledges that no office holder should be beyond the reach of the law and, thus, in certain exceptional circumstances, it may be necessary to lift immunity. However, the decision to do so should not be exercised by an individual, but rather by an appropriately constituted body such as a superior court or by a special majority of parliament. It is recommended that national law provides for well-defined circumstances in which the functional immunity of the decision-making body may be lifted in accordance with fair and transparent procedures. 

Providing members of the NHRI’s decision-making body and staff protection from both criminal and civil liability for actions undertaken in good faith in their official capacity protects them from individual legal proceedings from anyone who objects to a decision or action of the NHRI. 

The SCA recommends that the OPA continues to advocate for the removal of the above provisions from the Law no.52/2014, and towards restoring the stronger provisions regarding the functional immunity of the Ombudsman for actions taken in their official capacity in good faith. 

The SCA refers to Paris Principle B.3 and to its General Observation 2.3 on ‘Protection from criminal and civil liability for official actions and decisions undertaken in good faith.’”