Freedom House seeks proposals from both rising and experienced independent researchers, scholars, and affiliated research analysts, especially those based in Moldova, the Eastern Partnership region, and the European Union, for forward-looking briefs on the following theme:
The Rule of Law in Moldova’s Age of COVID-19
Moldova’s state of emergency, declared in mid-March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, gave authorities extraordinary powers and wide latitude to ignore normal due process and legal checks-and-balances in the interest of preserving public health. To rise to the challenge of combating this serious threat, the government has been empowered to take actions which could be considered illegal or abusive under normal circumstances; many such measures, such as bans on public gatherings in enclosed spaces, are uncontroversial and in common practice across the world.
However, the use of extraordinary powers, even when the intent is good, creates opportunities for officials to undermine the rule of law and weaken checks on their power beyond what is necessary to ensure public safety. Тhe pause on most court proceedings, for example, credibly helped slow the spread of the virus in the judicial system; nevertheless, it also robbed many of their right to a speedy trial. More controversially, the authorities’ decision to extend the period for government agencies to respond to freedom of information requests and requirement (later abandoned under civil society pressure) that journalists publish only government-approved information on the virus, threatened to undermine public oversight of the government’s management of the crisis, as well as rob citizens of fundamental rights to truth and expression.
This brief would examine threats to the rule of law in Moldova during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on the use of extraordinary powers assumed by authorities – both formally, through the state of emergency, and informally, as unusual or extralegal measures justified by the crisis. Competitive proposals will consider the extent to which the use of those powers in practice is consistent with international legal norms and principles as well as with their stated intent in containing the spread of coronavirus. Briefs should include policy recommendations for key stakeholders in Moldovan government and wider society to ensure the rule of law is upheld during and after the pandemic.
Please submit concept proposals to firstname.lastname@example.org by August 14, 2020, with “Moldova Policy Briefs” in the subject line. The concept proposal should consist of an abstract of no more than 200 words in English, an outline of the argument and recommendations to be presented, and a CV for the principal researcher or researchers. Organizations may submit proposals for more than one brief.
Contracted researchers will be asked to deliver a draft of 2500-3000 words by September 28, 2020. The brief will be published by Freedom House, with the byline and affiliation of the scholar or researcher. An honorarium of $250 per brief is provided.
The Justice First policy brief series is a gift of the United States Government, funded by the U.S. State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs under the project “Mobilizing Civil Society to Support Judicial Integrity in the Republic of Moldova” and implemented by Freedom House.