Cleaner Streets: Moldova’s Police Launch an Anti-Corruption Revolution

by Mark Worth
Coalition Co-coordinator

For years, Moldova’s police agencies were seen as among the most corrupt and least accountable in the country.

According to a 2017 report by the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, impunity for police misconduct was “common” in Moldova, where there was a “high risk” of corruption when citizens interact with officers. Three out of four people perceived the police as corrupt at the time, U4 reported, and 80 percent of companies were paying for private security.

Positive Message: anti-bribery posters are on display throughout Moldova’s national police headquarters

This is well on the way to changing – for the better.

The slogan “NU corupției în Poliție!” – “No Corruption in the Police” – has become a rallying point throughout Moldova’s General Police Inspectorate (GPI), where I had the pleasure to work for two weeks in February and March.

Launched a year ago, the widely promoted effort includes programs to report misconduct within GPI, a Facebook campaign to discourage bribery of officers, anti-corruption training for GPI staff, a specialized anti-corruption unit, and encouraging officers to report bribery attempts by citizens. 

Many officers who reported bribery and corruption have received awards at public ceremonies. The commendations are motivating colleagues to come forward, while sharing progress of the anti-corruption initiative with the public. 

GPI’s new effort already is paying off. Corruption-related disciplinary measures against officers have plunged from 197 in 2016 to 64 in 2019. Meanwhile, reports of bribery attempts by citizens have soared from 14 in 2016 to an all-time high of 117 last year.

The EU is supporting this long-term initiative to reform and modernize Moldova’s national police, which includes a major push to prevent and combat corrupt behavior by officers.

Job Well Done: a Moldovan police officer receives an anti-corruption reward at a public ceremony
(photo: General Police Inspectorate)

A recent event shows that while much work still needs to be done, the reporting and prosecution of corruption is improving.

This week two police officers were arrested after a man told authorities they requested a bribe during a traffic stop. After the officers found he was intoxicated and did not have a driver’s license, they told him the infractions would be overlooked in exchange for a €300 bribe. The man called Moldova’s anti-corruption hotline, the National Anticorruption Center (NAC) began an investigation, and the officers were arrested. If convicted they face up to 10 years in prison, a monetary fine and a ban on holding certain positions for up to 15 years, according to NAC.

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