Interview with Minister of Internal Affairs, Alexandru Jizdan regarding reforms, aims and crimes which shook Moldova

In an interview offered for Publika TV, Minister of Internal Affairs, Alexandru Jizdan assured that reforms within the Ministry of Internal Affairs will continue into 2018, while its main aim being bringing police closer to citizens.

- Mr. Minister, I thank you for accepting the invitation to speak with me. First of all, I would like to speak of the image the Ministry of Internal Affairs has in the society. Recently, the police image is improving in the society. Still, there are many issues and displeasures expressed by the citizens regarding law enforcement. How can we make a police officer a person the society will trust and lean on?

- Since 2016 and till 2017, we rose from 21% to 46%. The numbers are imposting, but there are still countries where it's over 60, 70 and even 80%. This shows that there is still place for improvement. Behind quality services stands the training. It is what we today are concentrating much upon: training the employees, officers and not only from the General Police Inspectorate, but from the whole system. We wish for all our employees to pass different training, so that their services toward citizens of Republic of Moldova will be of quality. Only then will people be satisfied with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, when our men are working to solve issues Republic of Moldova faces. On one hand there are simple things, on another, there are issues we often encounter in the system which persists in subdivisions, still, some are more slower, but surveys show that we are heading on the right path."

- Ministry of Internal Affairs is under reformation, many steps were already taken for this. How pleased are you will the changes so far? Are there any risks that some mistakes might compromise the whole police reform?

-The reform cannot be compromised, as it is taking place for nearly two years, yet I will repeat what every of our employee heard. The reform is not done for the sake of foreign partners. We reform the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the people of our country, which means the reforms are for our parents, for our children, for our grandchildren. I wish, during my mandate, to create a base which will be used in the whole process for many years to come. I am pleased with the reform, there are many people working to make it possible. Perhaps, for the first time ever, the Ministry created multiple teams solely for this process. There are people we took from various subdivisions. They now work exclusively for the reforms within the Ministry of Internal Affairs This innovation offered us harvest, which our development partners appreciated. After the Government's reform, of course the Ministry of Internal Affairs changed a bit. The pace of our reform process will soon bring changes in the way people view our activity."

- Unfortunately those changes are less seen in the rural ares. Some officers are working in poorly equipped offices and must make up for the gaps in the system and extend their activity in settlements where there are no police officers. When will changes be felt in villages?

- We have 203 Police Departments which, through reforms, will be repaired. It means that not only will Police Departments from Chisinau be repaired, but also those situated in rural areas, as you said. It is also one of the most often questions I receive when meeting local public administration. Here, I speak of local City Halls. It is true that there are regions where the work of an inspector is not criticized. There are some offices we rent, while the law does not allow us to repair building which does not belong to us. If the chance will arise, I will name some numbers. Let us take the uniform for example. If in 2014 the budget for uniforms was of 3 million 500 thousand, in 2015, it remained the same. Then, in 2016, the budget was of 14 million lei, while in 2017, of 14 million 500 thousand lei. Basically, we spent four times more on our employees. Those are numbers, not declarations. In 2014, 194 cars were purchased, in 2015 only 43, in 2016, due to a complicated period, when our relations with foreign development partners froze, we purchased 45 cars. This year, we have already purchased 277 cars, much more than in 2014. We will perhaps reach to 300 cars this year. Those are numbers which speak of the fact that the Government started giving us more attention. This supply will also reach the rural areas. At the moment, repair works are being done. There is a suggestion, from my colleagues from the General Police Inspectorate, to purchase wagons. The materials from which they are built will allow to lift them very fast. In places where we lack buildings, we will build or come with such typical police sectors as they have proposed, so we will not have such issues anymore. I have to agree with you, workplace sometimes devalues not only the dignity of the man entering this room, but also daily lowers the dignity of our employees. During summer, people must stay in places with Air Conditioning, in winter, the building must be well heated, while the uniforms must be appropriate.

- Since we are on the topic of reforms, for a while now we hear of reformation of the carabineer troops, based on the European model. At what stage is this reform and when will the carabineer troops transform into a professional service, based on a contract and not mandatory enrollment of young people at the age of 18?

The objective which must be achieved in relation to carabineers is tied with 2020, when we will not have any more employees or soldiers in term as we do today. In 2020, we will solely have employees based on a contract. They will take over duties to ensure public order. It is a dual system used in many European states. I must mention that I have not regretted even for a moment that in 2016, I refused to close down this section. They are people, soldiers who have in their conscience and in the way of being a great military discipline, which greatly helps us today in many services rather difficult for other institutions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. This subdivision was not closed down, while people activating there have perhaps receive an encouraging message. This institution already has another role. As you most likely know, they ensure safety at diplomatic missions. Those people also begun patrolling. We have some projects in Chișinău, in Botanica sector for example, where carabineers are patrolling dangerous areas. Those projects prove that the carabineers are helping fighting crime. This made us more confident in the decision to maintain them. You asked of the reform. When it comes to the carabineers, this reform is supported by the European Union. By 2020, we have to receive from budget support 8 million euro which will be used to equip this institution. This way, citizens will be both proud and satisfied of their presence.

- This year was approved the law regarding the increase by 25% for officers from the given fines. Do you believe this might be a reason for some employees to not accept bribery? And generally speaking, what strategy does the Ministry has to combat the corruption form the system?

- It is not for the first time when a journalist asks me of this. Perhaps I should also train with you, as I also wish to ask questions of you. Why do you believe it will not encourage people and why would it make them refuse bribery? Because it is an honest way of making money, to document people breaking the law. We speak of drunk people who might cause accidents on the roads. We speak of those who speed or cross on the red light, people who might kill innocent pedestrians who would never have though that such a horrible thing might happen when leaving home. It is not an experiment, as this practice exists in many other states. We have people who left, our employees from the General Police Inspectorate, who left for a while abroad to see how it all works. The analysis shows that people who are doing their job well receive a bonus to their salaries. They can even double their salaries and I believe it to be an efficient method to combat corruption. I cannot declare that there is no more corruption in the system, nor can I claim that employees are satisfied with their salaries. I speak of patience for already two years, it would be empty words were I to say that stating tomorrow people will receive 20 thousand lei. I cannot make promises that I cannot keep. I declare that that much attention is given on the topic of salaries. It is the main issue of our system, which everyone knows of. For most people who work for the state, salaries are a problem and most likely,  this circle will never be broken. People who work for the state must be paid. The offered salaries are small and therefore, do not attract people with great capabilities. I do not wish to offend anyone, but still, some of our institutions require bigger salaries, which will attract more qualified employees. This project solved a part from the problem of corruption. We speak all the time with employees from the National Patrol Inspectorate. We still have issues that need to be solved. What we implemented, has never happened before in Moldova. As any innovation, it has both positive and negative sides. I earlier declared that while we refuse 25% of assessment records or fines given based on assessment records made by consultant inspectors and will allocate those 25% just based on the findings captured by video surveillance cameras to exclude the human factor."

- I would like to speak on this topic, about traffic surveillance cameras. At first, it seemed like a project meant to make drivers behave. Soon after it launched though, we found out that it is only functioning in Chisinau. Why is the traffic surveillance cameras not spread in the whole country?

Surveillance cameras either way controls traffic. In Chisinau, all surveillance cameras are functioning. They have passed though a Moldova - China project. It is not a private partnership. In Republic of Moldova, other surveillance cameras were installed by private partnerships. While their installing was not done according to the law. The Court of Auditors have clearly found problems and some of them are rather grave. On some of those issues criminal investigations have begun, while people who breached the law will face justice. After this observation, we had a group from the IT Services, which came with another procedure to install surveillance cameras. We already speak with local public administration from different districts. Eventually, if someone wishes to, we will renew this process, as I must admit that the lack of those cameras increases the number of accidents and last but not least, increases the number of deaths on national roads. Still, in 2017, the number of car accidents have greatly lessened. There are fewer injured or deceased people. While the fact that we continue to give it much attention, namely organize special operations against those who drunk drive, decreased the number of people who take the wheel after having a drink. 

- I would like to speak of crimes which shook the whole country. Why have those people got away with it?

- Not only the crime from Durlești. For years there were crimes that were never solved. I would like here to once again defend our country. I have been asked and answered this many time. As long as a crime is not solved, we cannot speak of success. Only when the criminal will be caught will we be able to say that we reached our aims and are successful. In the end, I personally worked and know everything that is happening to solve this crime. It is a complex one, from all points of view. Because the one who committed it knew what they was doing and covered their traces well. In the end, the information we have allows us to move further. But for know, I can only speak in general lines of this crime. None of the crimes which shook the country are collecting dust. Periodically, the teams created based on the ordinances of prosecutors are summoned at different levels and I have reports from the Chief of the General Police Inspectorate, after they summon these teams. I have reports which speak of progresses or other actions which are taken within those investigations. As long as they are not solve, we are obligated, during the investigation, to take preventive measures. Durlești and not only Durlești where we believe the criminal resides is monitored daily, 24/7. We have teams created specially for this region, whose sole aim is to keep an eye on the zone.

Toward the end, I would appreciate if you could share what were your expectations of 2017 and what have you not managed to do?

This is a rather complex question. Everything we wished to achieve, we did. Still, the Ministry of Internal affairs is an institution where discipline is the motto. Discipline is the foreground. Based on discipline, we managed to achieve everything we wished for. The work being also appreciated by our development partners. What we had to receive through budget support for police reform. We have basically completed and will receive those money. All the results which we had to obtain we did. While I am not pleased of the slow pace of the law project regarding service apartments. Soon will be marked two years since we speak of service apartments. But with the help of my colleagues, the normative part is achieved. Now we step into the practical part. When the person who will win or will be selected through a competition will be able to receive this promised space. Just viewing the process will bring much satisfaction. Not only to myself, but also to those who do not have a place to live in. Besides the small salary, people have to pay rent and basically remain with barely enough to maintain themselves. It is basically my biggest arrear, along with the team working to bring into force this project. I believe that starting with 2018, namely February - March, we will already have the project of the small town from Testemițanu St. and will most likely begin the works. I hope that soon, namely one or two years, we will participate at an event where our employees will receive the keys to their service apartments.

-What do you expect from 2018?

In 2018, my expectations are tied with security. Security of Republic of Moldova. Still, the political powers in our country were wise enough to maintain peace and quite for 25 years. Despite there being big political contradictions. Republic of Moldova has not faced military conflict. We have not seen war on our lands. I hope that 2018 will also be a productive year for Moldova. Without any events that unfortunately our neighbor country has. I now speak of Ukraine. At war, with tensions on the political field, as well as any other point of view. I hope for 2018 to be a peaceful year for our system. A year which will allow those who wish prosperity for this country to concentrate on what has to be done, therefore, for citizens of Republic of Moldova to have better standards of living.

- I wish you all the luck in 2018.

- Than you, may 2018 also bring you only prosperity.

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