This Network is aimed at sharing experience among NGOs, raising their awareness of torture and ways to combat this phenomenon, and methods of influencing the authorities to enhance its activities in struggling against torture. After an intensive training program, the Network members will share the acquired knowledge of torture prevention methods in their regions. They will offer informational and legal assistance to other NGOs in the regions of Moldova.
Activity of the NGO Network: In their statements and conversations, the Network participants have mentioned that they used to be informed about torture to a lesser extent, and were unaware of the places and institutions mostly related to the risk of torture; the overwhelming majority mentions that they did not know about the conditions of detention used as torture, etc.
The increase in the number of NGOs eager to become the Network members confirms their interest in the issue and the intention to act in order to solve the problem, which is an indicator of success.
Another indicator of success is that the NGO representatives who are the Network members seek advice regarding the ways of preventing torture, developing zero tolerance for torture at the places of their activity, share their experiences, and expect for a mini-grants competition to be announced in order to combat torture more efficiently.
Creating an anti-torture network is of great importance due to the fact that it informs and brings together opinion leaders and heads of various NGOs from all the regions of Moldova to generate intolerance to torture in society.
The Network participants, in their turn, inform the members of their NGOs and the beneficiaries about the situation related to torture, thus contributing to zero tolerance to torture and counteracting it.
The project partner organizations share their experience in combating torture with the Network members, encourage them to go on, and provide methodological support.
The regional network, involving colleagues in the educational process, sharing experience, and discussing the issue of preventing torture in the country, has made it possible to expand the influence of the project in the regions where we have no legal, psychological, or rehabilitation centers, as the NGOs from different localities of Moldova have become the Network members. The number of applicants and their interest in becoming parts of the project has confirmed the success and importance of creating and involving other interested colleagues in the Network.
Therefore, the Network has ensured the promotion of information regarding the project and the project services outside the regions where rehabilitation centers exist. As a result of the Network’s activity, 3 victims have been recently readdressed to the Chisinau Center by the Network members. Currently, in Moldova, there are 10 regions (the locations of the Network members), where there are persons who know how to react to torture and ill-treatment, and the Network members can also redirect the victims or their relatives and friends to the assistance centers. Some Network members, after the training workshops within the Network, have discovered that they used to pay no attention to some of the actions that could be classified as torture or ill-treatment. They are now more vigilant and write about any incident in their regions to the Center coordinators.
Many public organizations intend to counter torture, yet have insufficient skills to succeed. In this regard, the Network uniting together public organizations from both banks of the Dniester was founded. It aims to share experience, achievements, and increase knowledge on combating torture for improving their professionalism. The Network holds regular meetings; we organize training workshops for its members. As a result, the Network members’ knowledge and skills of combating torture have improved. The Network participants have started counteracting this phenomenon in a more active manner, monitoring manifestation of torture and inhuman treatment in their regions, and referring identified victims to the centers for assistance to victims of torture. All of these facts reveal the importance of the Network’s activities.
On September 29, 2018, in Chisinau, the first meeting of the Network of Regional Non-Governmental Organizations implementing or planning to implement anti-torture activities was held.
During the first meeting of the Network on September 29, Andrei Borsevski, President of the Institute for Democracy, addressed the participants with a welcoming speech, emphasizing the importance of combating torture and the relevance of sharing experience among Moldovan NGOs.
Luiza Dorosenco, Director of the Media Center of Transnistria, noted that the cooperation of civil society on the two banks of the Dniester in the struggle against torture was very important and would allow the NGOs to learn from each other’s experience, therefore, helping to expand their professional activities.
The presentation of the Centers for Legal and Psychological Assistance to Victims of Torture in Chisinau, Tiraspol, and Comrat was made by Nonna Mihalcean, who mentioned that the Centers would help victims of torture to overcome psychological stress and also offer legal assistance to persons who had been subjected to torture and other abusive treatment.
Alexandru Zubco, Head of the Department for Combating Torture at the Office of the People’s Advocate, mentioned while attending the meeting of the Network, that last year, 800 complaints of poor conditions of detention or lack of or insufficient medical care had been received from penitentiary institutions and detention centers, and in the first half of the current year, over 400 such complaints had been received, which demonstrated alarming trends.
The open dialogue allowed identifying the problems of torture not only throughout Moldova, but also in individual regions, share experience, and establish contacts for joint activities.
The participants appreciated this event, thanking the organizers and the donor for holding it.
On October 20, 2018, the second meeting of the Network of Regional Non-Governmental Organizations against Torture was held in Chisinau. The representatives of various public organizations were able to learn more about their colleagues’ work for the benefit of people, including their struggle against inhuman treatment and torture.
The representatives of various Moldovan public organizations (including those from the Transnistrian region) were informed of their colleagues’ work for the benefit of people, including their struggle against inhuman treatment and torture. Luiza Dorosenco, Director of the Media Center of Transnistria and Project Coordinator in the Transnistrian Region, noted that working together could change the situation for the better. According to her, the anti-torture cooperation of civil society from the two banks of the Dniester was very important and would allow the NGOs to learn from each other’s experience, thereby extending their professional activities.
The program of the meeting included discussing the current state of our project, its prospects, and planned events.
During the meeting, the further development strategy of the Network and plans for its expansion were determined.
Teaching the Network representatives instead of merely discussing the topic became a good tradition of the meetings. This time, the psychologist from the Center for Legal and Psychological Assistance to Victims of Torture in Chisinau spoke about the psychological profile of victims of torture. This is especially important, since victims of torture suffer not only from physical pain: they have severe psychological trauma, and its consequences can negatively affect their entire future lives.
During the meeting, the project coordinator Nonna Mihalcean involved the participants in various types of informal exercises: they learned about the effectiveness of using DIXIT projective maps, and studied the Hand and 5 Characteristics technique which could be used in working with beneficiaries and colleagues in order to understand the victim’s psychological profile better.
The dialogue that took place made it possible to share experiences and establish contacts for joint activities among various NGOs. The participants appreciated this event, thanking the organizers and the donor for holding it.
On November 21, 2018, the 3rd meeting of the Network of Regional Non-Governmental Organizations against Torture was held in Comrat. The broad geographical coverage of the participants during the meeting was very positive: it was attended by the organizations from Comrat, Ribnita, Tiraspol, Bender, Chisinau, Balti, and other regions of Moldova. That fact allowed organizations to share their experience and discuss their plans, which was in line with the objectives of the Network, aimed at sharing experience among the NGOs and raising their awareness of torture and ways of combating it, including by means of influencing the authorities to enhance their anti-torture activities.
The participants were very positive about the network’s visiting session, as they were able to communicate with non-governmental organizations from Gagauzia more actively and learn more about the situation in the region. During the meeting of the Network, Andrei Borsevski, President of the Institute for Democracy, told the participants about the project titled Let’s Say NO to Torture in Moldova: Civil Society against Torture, its achievements, and informed them that, on that day, three TV channels of Gagauzia (Teleradio-Gagauzia Public Broadcasting Company, ATV Broadcasting Company, and PERVII NARODNII CANAL Broadcasting Company) were organizing the programs which involved the project management as the guests in the studio, and the programs themselves were dedicated to the project and methods of combating torture.
The meeting of the Network took place in a friendly and active form; the participants listened attentively, asked questions, and offered their suggestions. During the meeting of the Network, the Transnistrian participants were very interested in the issue of relations with the Moldovan authorities and the administration of prisons and psychiatric institutions on the right bank of the Dniester. Andrei Borsevski noted that there were no obstacles to project implementation from the state authorities of Moldova or the prison administration; on the contrary, a written cooperation agreement had been signed with the Department of Penitentiary Institutions of the Republic of Moldova, which allowed the representatives of the Institute for Democracy to hold lectures in all the prisons throughout the country. The Institute for Democracy had also signed an agreement with the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Social Protection of the Republic of Moldova, which provided an opportunity to hold seminars at the institutions subordinate to the Ministry. The participants from Transnistria were surprised by such openness from the part of the Moldovan authorities and the administration of the Moldovan prisons: according to them, in Transnistria, it could only be dreamed of. The Transnistrian NGOs had no access to Transnistrian prisons at all: the authorities were categorically against any anti-torture projects in Transnistria. As one of the Transnistrian participants noted, a person involved in anti-torture projects and working with the police could wind up behind bars.
Teaching the Network representatives became a good tradition. That time, the lawyer of the Center for Legal and Psychological Assistance to Victims of Torture in Comrat spoke about the legal aspects of struggling against torture and the relations with the state authorities and the police of Gagauzia. He cited the statistics on the activities of the Center for Legal and Psychological Assistance to Victims of Torture in Comrat.
Besides, during the meeting, the participants discussed the upcoming small grant program. Luiza Dorosenco, Director of the Media Center of Transnistria and Project Coordinator in the Transnistrian Region, shared her experience of working with partner organizations from the right bank, noting that other Transnistrian NGOs could use their experience. Luiza Dorosenco also briefly spoke about the work of the Center for Legal and Psychological Assistance to Victims of Torture in Tiraspol.
In addition, Luiza Dorosenco mentioned the difficulties faced while implementing the project on the left bank.
Alexandru Zubco, Head of the Department for Combating Torture at the Office of the People’s Advocateof the Republic of Moldova, briefly shared his experience in combating torture with the participants and the role of the People’s Advocate in such activities.
Nonna Mihalcean, Project Coordinator for Chisinau, told the Network members about the workshops at the penitentiary institutions of Moldova, noting that deputy heads of prisons in Moldova, as well as prison staff, had been trained. The participants developed intolerance to using torture; they were informed that they would be liable for torture, as it was a crime according to both Moldovan and international legislation.
Nonna Mihalcean told how their attitude towards torture had changed as a result of intensive training, noting that promoting intolerance to torture among prison staff was generally successful, though of course it could have happened much faster.
At the end of the meeting, the participants made a tour of Comrat and visited the sights of the city.
That outreach meeting allowed the NGOs to share their experiences, learn about the NGOs of Gagauzia and their work, and establish contacts among the NGOs. The participants suggested organizing more outreach meetings, emphasizing their usefulness and significance and thanking the organizers and the donor for holding it.
The Network meetings were held on May 15, 2019, July 1, 2019, September 13, 2019, October 21, 2019, November 9, 2019, etc.
During the Network meeting held on May 15, 2019, Andrei Borsevski, President of the Institute for Democracy, addressed a welcoming speech to the audience, mentioning the importance and success of sharing the knowledge among the NGOs of Moldova. Luiza Dorosenco, Director of the Media Center of Transnistria, noted that the phenomenon of torture could be defeated only by joint efforts, and NGO anti-torture cooperation was very important and would facilitate sharing their experience.
The open dialogue that followed allowed identifying the issues of torture in certain regions, sharing experiences, and establishing contacts for further joint activities.
The participants appreciated this event, thanking the organizers and the donor for holding it.
On July 1, 2019, a regular meeting of the Anti-Torture Network of Regional Non-Governmental Organizations was held. The Network members learned more about their colleagues’ anti-torture activities and shared their experiences. Among its positive aspects, the vast geographic coverage of the participants in this meeting should be mentioned: the meeting was attended by the representatives of the organizations from Comrat, Ribnita, Tiraspol, Bender, Chisinau, Balti, etc. They shared their experiences and discussed their plans to combat torture. The Network meeting was held in an informal active manner; the participants listened attentively, asked questions, and share their own suggestions.
Another meeting of the Network participants was held on September 13, 2019, in Chisinau. The NGO leaders and activists arrived from various localities from all regions of Moldova to attend it. The topic was very important for everyone: The Sub-Grant Program: Discussing Partnerships and Eventual Projects.
Andrei Borsevski, President of the Institute for Democracy, the main partner organization of the project titled Say NO to Torture in Moldova All Together: Civil Society against Torture and implemented jointly with the National Institute for Women of Moldova Equality and the Media Center of Transnistria with the support of the European Union, announced opening the sub-grant program for the NGOs.
In connection with the announcement of the sub-grant contest, the audience had many questions. The recently founded NGO representatives showed particular concern: they wondered if they would be able to understand all the requirements and cope with preparing the project offer.
Luiza Dorosenco, Project Coordinator, clarified the details of the small grant program. Together with the audience, each paragraph of the Applicant Guidebook and each paragraph of the application form were examined in detail. No questions were left unanswered.
Partnership building was paid particular attention to during the meeting. “Filing a project in partnership with another organization or organizations is not necessary, but it is welcome, as it expands the geography of the project and allows involving more beneficiaries, which increases its overall efficiency”, Andrei Borsevski explained.
After the audience discussed the possibility of creating partnerships and the topics of the projects, they switched to the “question and answer session” again. The Network members clarified which topics were acceptable for the grant contest, jointly determined the degree of implementability of the project on the declared topics in a particular district, and shared their negative and successful experiences.
“The Network’s working meeting has been very productive, and we expect that the participants will present interesting, realistic, and efficient projects covering all the districts with their impact”, Luiza Dorosenco summed up.
On October 21, 2019, the next meeting of the Anti-Torture Network of Regional Non-Governmental Organizations was held. The participants shared their working experience and described their achievements. During the active discussion, the difficulties the Network members were faced with, as well as the existing problems and specificity of the Network members’ activities in the Transnistrian region were touched upon.
Andrei Borsevscki, President of the Institute for Democracy, and Luiza Dorosenco, Director of the Media Center of Transnistria, presented the statistical data of the mini-grant contest organized within the project, discussed the topics of the filed applications, and described the selection procedure.
The psychologist from the Center for Legal, Psychological, and Rehabilitation Assistance to Victims of Torture in Tiraspol presented an informational and educational report titled On the Particularities of Psychological Assistance to Victims of Torture to the Network members. The audience stated the usefulness of the materials presented, since most NGOs did not have qualified psychologists as their staff members. They learned a lot of new information from the report and will be able to apply it in their work in the districts.
To assist the Network members in seeking support for their projects, Luiza Dorosenco spoke about the new grant contest for combating torture in the RM titled Education in Penitentiaries, which had been previously announced.
After that, the Network members started an open dialogue and discussed the issues of interest.
In addition, the training workshops were held for the Network participants (on June 17, 2019, September 17, 2019, September 25, 2019, October 26, 2019, and November 2, 2019).
The workshops were successful judging by several indicators: the number of participants per each workshop, which indicates their interest in the issue, and the feedback in the final questionnaires, where participants demonstrate the need for such workshops and ask to include their colleagues in the audience, too. We have also attentively examined the beneficiaries’ reaction to the use of torture in the beginning of the workshop, and the way they responded to it in the end of the class: their opinions and attitudes were changing radically, and they showed an obviously negative attitude towards torture. The workshops were held for the staff members working with prospective victims on a daily basis.