In memoriam Veaceslav Iacob Țurcan

11 March 2021

Human Rights Organizations Amnesty International Moldova and Human Rights Embassy deeply mourn the sad and untimely demise of our beloved friend and colleague, human rights lawyer – Veaceslav Iacob Țurcan. It is heartbreaking for us to say goodbye to the founder and ideological inspirer not only of our organizations, but also of the contemporary human rights movement in Moldova.

Veacelsav was an idealist and steadily led all of us to a world in which the rights and freedoms of every person are of the highest value. He made an enormous contribution to the development of civil society, including legal profession, in Moldova and post-Soviet space. He generously shared his knowledge and skills in the field of protection and promotion of human rights with his colleagues, developing and strengthening professional capacity and potential of legal professionals at the national and international levels.

Veaceslav Țurcan made an exceptional contribution to the systemic fight against torture, other ill treatment, unlawful deprivation of liberty and arbitrary detention.

At Amnesty International Moldova, Veaceslav founded the Lawyers for Human Rights Program and the “Lawyers vs Torture” Project. At his initiative, a tripartite approach to professional development and strategic interaction with defense lawyers was developed in 2005: in-depth trainings, the country's first professional platform – the Lawyer’s Clubs, and the first in the country Mailing list / Network for lawyers and human rights defenders. To this day, his ideas continue to be implemented as part of several human rights organisations. Thanks to this Program, by 2009 supported by a team of experts, Veaceslav trained over 120 defense lawyers to effectively fight against torture and unlawful deprivation of liberty. These were the lawyers who provided pro bono main legal assistance to peaceful protesters who suffered from torture and ill-treatment as a result of the events on 7 April 2009.

Since 2011, Veaceslav worked at Human Rights Embassy, where he continued to work on improving professional development of lawyers, judges, prosecutors, police officers, human rights defenders, and journalists in the field of combating torture, ill treatment and effective protection of victims of torture on national, regional and international levels. With his direct participation, a specialized website “Stop Torture in Moldova” was created as a comprehensive informational resource for raising legal awareness and consultancy on protection mechanisms for victims of torture and arbitrary detention among general public and victims of human rights violations in terms of rights and effective tools for the defense of victims of torture and other degrading treatment at the national, regional or international levels. Together with a team of national and international experts, Veaceslav organized trainings and thematic meetings of the Human Rights Club for defense lawyers and jurists from human rights organisations from both banks of the Nistru river. Thanks to Veaceslav’s and his colleague’s contribution, on International Human Rights Day, 10 December 2020, Human Rights Embassy has been awarded with the Human Rights Award 2020 in Human Security category in the framework of the European Awards for Civil Society Ceremony. The award highlighted the organisation's contribution to combating torture and ill-treatment in Moldova.

Veaceslav was actively involved in the development of the legal profession and revision and improvement of the legislation, including the Law on the Lawyer’s Profession of Moldova. During 2007-2011 Veaceslav was a member of the Commission for Ethics and Discipline of Moldovan Bar Association (The Union of Lawyers of the Republic of Moldova), and between 2011-2015 he was the Chairman of the Commission of Censors of the Moldovan Bar Association. Since 2018, he was a member of the Council of the Union of Lawyers of the Republic of Moldova. Veaceslav often participated in complex, high-profile and politically motivated cases, conducted strategic litigations at the national and international levels. He actively defended the rights of lawyers persecuted by the authorities in Moldova and other countries. Because of his human rights activities, Veaceslav Țurcan was himself subjected to unlawful criminal prosecution in Moldova. Shortly before he passed away, Veaceslav managed to ensure justice and was fully acquitted. On 12 February 2021, the Court of Appeal of the city of Balti issued a ruling, which upheld the acquittal against him and his colleague.

In 2017, in the framework of the Human Rights Gala Award ceremony, Veacelav Țurcan was awarded the United Nations Human Rights Award, under the category General Award for an Outstanding Human Rights Achievement, for promotion of respect for civil and political rights and providing professional human rights training for lawyers from Moldova, including Transnistrian region.

We will all profoundly miss his honesty and integrity, his responsibility and sense of humor, charisma and boundless energy. We express our deepest condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Veaceslav. He will always remain in our memories and hearts.

Colleagues, members and supporters of Amnesty International Moldova and Human Rights Embassy