Our mission is to advance open society and safeguard democracy by supporting innovative ideas and encouraging visionaries that drive positive changes, to make Moldova a better place to live in.
Justice and Human Rights
We support justice reform
An incorruptible, independent, and fair judiciary is a fundamental value of an open society. Therefore, the Soros Foundation Moldova has always supported the efforts of civil society to fight corruption and foster justice reforms.
The Soros Foundation Moldova has conducted a nationwide campaign to raise public awareness of the connections between organized crime and corruption in the justice sector. We have also been supporting the Group of Justice Experts (GEJ) to promote a transparent, systemic, and well-grounded justice reform.
We contribute to raising legal awareness
Vulnerable groups in the Republic of Moldova still experience poverty and marginalization and have extremely low levels of legal empowerment and access to justice. Most Moldovans have to contend with complicated bureaucratic procedures, the uncooperativeness of public authorities, unforeseen expenses, and the inaccessibility of special legal services. There is also the problem of discrimination against specific vulnerable groups, such as drug users, sex workers, people living with HIV/AIDS, and the LGBTQ+ community.
The national network of paralegals is the primary provider of legal empowerment services. This mechanism—where community paralegals offer primary legal assistance—was set up 11 years ago with assistance from the Soros Foundation Moldova. While functional, efficient, and extremely popular, the network is confronted with a series of institutional challenges, namely low pay levels, the ban on combining the profession of a paralegal with other jobs paid by public administrations, lack of systemic training, and the fact that the National Legal Aid Council (NLAC) cannot hire people without a higher education degree. To address these needs, in 2016, the Soros Foundation Moldova joined the Regional Legal Empowerment Program (LENS)—an Open Society Foundations’ initiative that has helped promote and extend primary legal assistance services.
We promote activism, education, and human rights monitoring
Hate speech in mass media is a direct violation of human rights that undermines the principles of an open and democratic society. Studies on human rights have shown that the phenomenon of hate speech and discriminatory speech heightens during electoral periods. Activists have documented 190 cases during the 2019 parliamentary and local elections and 448 during the 2020 presidential election. Political affiliation, sex/gender, and sexual orientation are the most common triggers of hate speech. Printed and online media, social media, and television are the main channels propagating this phenomenon. From 2018 through 2020, activists found over 1,300 cases in the printed and online media and another 120 – on television. The Republic of Moldova does not have a legal framework to define and prohibit this phenomenon in mass media, especially during election campaigns.
We develop community policing
Community policing is a specific way the police communicate and partner with communities to resolve public order and security problems.
In May 2021, 29 police officers, paralegals, and civil society representatives from around the country took part in a training program organized by the Soros Foundation Moldova where the participants were asked to name security problems in their communities and propose sustainable solutions to them that could increase public trust and confidence in the police. The event prompted four community policing projects in ten communities.
We respond to human rights violations amid the COVID-19 pandemic
In early 2021, the Republic of Moldova was in the midst of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The worsening situation following the emergence of new strains put more pressure on the healthcare system and hit the fundamental human rights guarantees. At the time, the penitentiary system oversaw the confinement of 5,444 inmates. According to the data of the Office of the Ombudsperson, most penitentiary institutions are overcrowded and offer inadequate detention and healthcare conditions. The situation became even worse with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic has also affected the rights of employees. According to the data of various NGOs, during the pandemic, employees were hit by layoffs as a result of the impossibility to observe physical distancing rules, low workforce demand as a result of the economic decline, a decrease in circular migration, and a decrease in parents’ employment options as a result of the shift to online lessons in the general education system.
To address the risk of human rights violations in the context of the pandemic, the Soros Foundation Moldova has supported the efforts of four NGOs: Promo-LEX Public Association, the Center “Partnership for Development” (CPD), the Center for Policies and Reforms of Moldova (CPR), and La Strada International Center.
We promote economic equity and fight against corruption
During the pandemic, the Republic of Moldova received unprecedented support from international financial institutions for the healthcare sector. In 2020, the government signed loan and financial assistance agreements of approximately EUR 418 million (MDL 9 billion).
Public authorities must attach prime importance to the fairness and transparency of the management of these funds. People should know their purpose and final beneficiaries. Authorities must ensure that this information—including data about the progress of spending, the rate of absorption, and possible causes of failure to spend the earmarked budget—is freely accessible. Keeping this in mind, the Soros Foundation Moldova supports the efforts of civil society and media outlets to track the management of these funds. The foundation also supports the Institute for Strategic Initiatives and Expert Grup in their initiative to promote socially responsible management of foreign funds, including by developing a green, sustainable, and inclusive economy and promoting socially responsible investments/spending.
We support civic engagement and conduct advocacy
Low civic engagement has a negative effect on the quality of governance, both locally and nationally. Because of it, public policies developed by authorities are not always relevant to the real needs of citizens. To overcome these challenges, the Soros Foundation Moldova has supported programs that promote open society values, which encourage civic engagement and the involvement of the grassroots in decision-making. On the one hand, the foundation helped to empower young people as active members of society by fostering their critical thinking and professional growth. On the other hand, its various advocacy activities contributed directly to broadening the involvement of the citizenry in decision-making.
We help to bring education up to date
Bringing general education up to date is high on the public agenda. Schools must develop relevant skills and competencies to successfully prepare students to deal with current and future challenges. Edu Tolkstarted in 2019 with the support of the Soros Foundation Moldova in partnership with Future Classroom, has conducted an online survey among 4,100 students. The young people produced a series of proposals to improve the educational process, including the organization of hands-on, interactive activities, and the use of innovative technologies and experiments.
The Soros Foundation Moldova continued supporting several top-priority areas in education, such as bringing innovation into classroom teaching-learning, developing students’ ability to engage in decision-making in their schools, and growing expertise in producing education policies.
During the past two years of the pandemic, the educational system has been pushed into a process of fast digitalization. The teaching staff had to learn how to use distance teaching-learning tools, create interactive digital content, and manage the educational process and communication with students in a different way. The Soros Foundation Moldova helped to overcome these challenges by encouraging teachers who excelled in using information technology. Twenty-five teachers were named the winners of the competition The Teacher—a Digital Ambassador to Education, held by Future Classroom. Digital ambassadors shared their experiences in seven communities specialized in STEAM disciplines. Today, these communities have over 1,200 members.
We contribute to strengthening investigative journalism
The foundation has supported the Moldovan Center for Journalistic Investigations (CIJM) as part of a project where CIJM carried out 18 journalistic investigations about the embezzlement of public funds, corruption schemes, and integrity issues within the civil service, environmental issues, and human rights violations. Seven of these investigations were included in the top 20 most read journalistic investigations of 2021. All journalistic investigations appeared on CIJM’s website www.anticorupție.md and were distributed or quoted by many other media outlets and shared on social media.
The web portal anticoruptie.md, set up in 2012 with the support of the Soros Foundation Moldova, registered a significant increase in visibility, the highest so far, reaching approximately 1.12 million unique visitors and approximately 4 million hits. This is an increase of 24% in the number of unique visitors and 56% in the number of hits from 2020.
The investigations published on CIJM’s websites served as a source of information and documentation for other media outlets, citizens, authorities, and civil society. They also offered a model of professionalism for other journalists tempted to do journalistic investigation.
We develop new media
The Soros Foundation Moldova’s project New Media Incubator aims at helping to reconfigure the media ecosystem and creating a healthy alternative by offering training and support for voices that would bring independent views and opinions into the Moldovan media landscape and would tackle topics of genuine importance for the public.
The trainees of the 2021 edition of the New Media Incubator chose the fight against domestic violence, personal development, student education from the first days of school, social entrepreneurship, and orientation for the graduates of educational institutions as subjects for their vlogs and podcasts. Many came into the project having only ideas but not the knowledge of how to implement them or reach the general public with their message. The trainees of the New Media Incubator have access to seven theoretical programs dedicated to the specificities and trends of media communication (with trainer Dorin Scobioală), screenwriting and direction (with trainers Corneliu Ciobanu and Max Ciorbă), the basic shooting and editing rules and techniques (with trainers Denis Tcaci and Dorin Scobioală), the planning, management, and handling of the production process (with trainer Sergiu Scobioală), acoustics and sound recording and processing techniques, equipment, and software (with trainer Andrei Mâțu), the production of an audio podcast (with trainer Vlad Drahnea), and the creation of a video blog from scratch, marketing, and monetization (with trainer Vlad Căluș).
We support media reforms
The Moldovan media market has serious issues with the concentration of media ownership and the control over some media outlets in the hands of interest groups with ties to criminal schemes and the use of these media outlets for electoral purposes and political disinformation. Other issues include lack of strategic approaches, unequal conditions and unfair competition on the media buying market, artificial impediments in access to information of public interest, and the underdevelopment of some regions mediawise due to a complete absence of media outlets. These phenomena hinder the sustainable development of independent media outlets, which struggle to play by the rules of fair and honest competition. The genuine reform of mass media in the Republic of Moldova is impossible without major legislative interventions.
We support independent press
Based on a continuous monitoring/assessment of online media by independent experts and their recommendations, the Soros Foundation Moldova has supported several media platforms that publish diverse, original materials produced in a professional way (the program support, however, does not extend to web versions of electronic or printed media). The quality criteria that guided the evaluators included the topicality, relevance, veracity, unbiasedness, plurality of information sources, and prominence/visibility of the media outlet.
We promote palliative care
Every person, regardless of their social status, medical condition or age, should have access to a national basic healthcare package that would include palliative treatments. The palliative treatments provided in the Republic of Moldova do not cover the need for these essential services. The foundation has supported the promotion of palliative care in the Republic of Moldova, helping the government to implement the 2014 World Health Assembly’s Resolution 67.19, according to which these services are a moral imperative for healthcare systems and must be integrated at all levels of healthcare.
The project—supported by the foundation and implemented by a consortium which includes the Center for Health Policies and Studies, the National Association of Palliative Treatment, and the National School for Public Health Management—led to the adoption of a law that defines and acknowledges palliative care as an essential medical service offered by the healthcare system. After the adoption of this law, the government moved on to the development of the rules of organization and operation for the palliative care services.
We monitor the national healthcare system
The pandemic has highlighted the issues in the healthcare sector—underdeveloped infrastructure, scarcity of medical personnel, low access to high-quality healthcare for the population, and inequity in access to healthcare. To clarify the level of interest and the vision of healthcare development among political parties, the foundation offered assistance for a study that assessed all interventions/actions with a direct or indirect effect on public health that were included in the election manifestos of the parties that had run in the 2021 snap parliamentary election.
We develop better social services
In 2021, the project Better Social Services through a Sustainable Partnership between Civil Society and the Government took stock of its results achieved so far. The three-year project was financed by the European Union and co-financed and implemented by the Soros Foundation Moldova in partnership with Keystone Moldova, the Alliance of NGOs Engaged in Child and Family Welfare (APSCF), and the Alliance of Organizations for People with Disabilities (AOPD). Social services support people in difficulty by meeting their welfare needs, easing their inclusion in the community, and improving their quality of life. The Soros Foundation Moldova is committed to the process where civil society organizations develop social services with support and in partnership with local governments. The project has provided assistance and resources for 33 civil society organizations, which developed, improved, or extended 42 social services for children from vulnerable groups and people with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities. The project has also set up a broad capacity-building, mentoring, and onboarding program for the employees of the newly established services.
We support the Republic of Moldova during the COVID-19 pandemic
While in 2020, the foundation mobilized financial resources and responded to the immediate needs raised by the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2021, its financial assistance went to interventions with a medium- and long-term impact. Overall, the foundation has offered the Republic of Moldova almost 1 million USD to fight the pandemic and its consequences.
The foundation has contributed to the strengthening of the healthcare sector’s human resource by awarding grants to the Nicolae Testemițanu State University of Medicine and Pharmacy and the Raisa Pacalo Center of Excellence in Medicine and Pharmacy to develop and pilot two training programs, which were implemented subsequently. These programs are Public Health Emergencies, for healthcare workers with a university degree, and COVID-19 Infection in Nursing Practice, for healthcare workers with a vocational education degree. Based on these programs, the Nicolae Testemițanu University organized a series of courses in public health emergencies for students, residents, and practitioners with support from the Soros Foundation Moldova during 2021. The university also offered online training for the employees of the National Public Safety Inspectorate to develop their ability to respond quickly and efficiently to hazardous situations and public health emergencies. The number of professionals trained for emergencies will keep growing every year.