On 29 May 2019, the Moldovan Government published instructions for the implementation of legal provisions that came into force in January 2018 recognising Transnistrian civil status acts (Law 310/2017). The Index highlights that in order to register a birth in Moldova, parents must be documented, which can lead to a risk of statelessness for some children whose parents may be unable to meet this requirement.
Previously, there was no tool available to facilitate comparison between how different European countries protect stateless people and work to prevent and reduce statelessness. Since 2017, the European Network on Statelessness has worked with its members to address this gap by partnering on our Statelessness Index. ENS member and Moldova-based non-governmental organisation Law Centre of Advocates (LCA) partnered with ENS to develop a Moldova country profile for the Index.
In December 2017, Moldova adopted two changes (one positive and one negative) to laws concerning the prevention and reduction of statelessness.
Law, policy and practice on the protection of stateless people and prevention and reduction of statelessness is generally positive in Moldova. The country’s record on treaty accession is good and it is one of few states with a dedicated Statelessness Determination Procedure (SDP) established in law. The SDP is accessible, with a mandatory interview, an option to initiate the procedure ex officio, and some rights are granted to applicants. People recognised as stateless in Moldova are granted rights in line with nationals.
- Children born on the territory who would otherwise be stateless automatically acquire Moldovan citizenship by law, but only if at least one of their parents has legal residence, international protection or stateless status in Moldova.
- The provision is automatic from birth, so children are not required to prove that they cannot access another nationality, nor meet any other requirements.
- Foundlings are granted citizenship automatically by law and there is no age limit.
- Citizenship cannot be withdrawn from a foundling if it would result in statelessness.
- A child adopted by foreign parents cannot lose Moldovan citizenship if this would lead to statelessness.
- There is provision in law for a child adopted by Moldovan parents to acquire citizenship, but they must opt for and apply for nationality, it is not automatic. There is no time limit.
- In all cases the law provides for a child born to Moldovan parents anywhere to acquire citizenship automatically.
- Birth registration should take place no later than three months after birth.
- The law provides for universal birth registration, irrespective of the parents' legal status, but it is not possible to complete the registration if parents are undocumented. If children are born in a medical institution, registration is automatic.
- There are credible reports from NGOs of barriers to birth registration for undocumented parents and children remaining unregistered as a result. Roma communities are disproportionately impacted and many face challenges due to parents' lack of documentation.
- There is no requirement to report undocumented individuals to immigration authorities.
- Late birth registration is possible in practice, but it is subject to a fine.
- There are no current proactive government campaigns or programmes to promote birth registration. The Government passed a decision in 2009 ‘on simplifying the procedure for registering new-borns’, which introduced automatic registration for children born in a medical institution. An amendment to the law, which came into force in January 2018, recognises Transnistrian civil status acts, making it easier for parents of Transnistrian origin to register the births of their children in Moldova and for children born to Transnistrian parents to acquire Moldovan nationality.
- There are no other reduction measures in place, and a recent amendment to the law increased the risk of children being born stateless in Moldova.
- Grounds for the withdrawal of Moldovan nationality are established in law and include where a person acquired citizenship by fraud, enlisted in a foreign army, or committed particularly serious deeds damaging the state.
- There is a safeguard against statelessness in all cases except for the fraudulent acquisition of citizenship.
- The competent authority is the President, an appeal is possible and legal aid is available to challenge the presidential decree.