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Moldovan Court Demotes, But Doesn't Abolish, Polygraphs In Anticorruption Hiring

The Constitutional Court ruled that polygraph results will not be disqualifying, but can still be administered. (illustrative photo)

Moldova's Constitutional Court has ruled that polygraph tests may continue as part of job interviews for managers of a top anticorruption body but their results should not be the determining factor.

The April 10 decision followed a complaint by a candidate who last year failed a polygraph test while interviewing to head the National Integrity Authority (ANI), a government body that checks the asset declarations of politicians and public officials for inconsistencies and investigates possible conflicts of interest.

Teodor Carnat was refused the ANI job after he failed the test in October and challenged the ANI board's decision in court.

The Constitutional Court ruled that while polygraph results will not be disqualifying, candidates for the positions of ANI president and vice president still must take them.

"This shouldn't be an eliminatory test," Carnat told reporters after the court announced its decision. "In a democracy, a polygraph operator cannot decide who runs a country and who is qualified to occupy public posts."

Moldova's Justice Ministry acknowledged the court's ruling.

"The government will obey the court's decision," Eduard Serbenco, a senior Justice Ministry official, said. But he added that polygraph testing would remain mandatory for those applying for jobs in anticorruption bodies, future judges and prosecutors, and intelligence service employees.

International organizations say Moldova, one of Europe's poorest countries, is also one of its most corrupt. Transparency International says two-thirds of Moldovans regard corruption as one of the biggest threats to their country.

The disappearance of some $1 billion from Moldova's banking system between 2012 and 2014 was dubbed by Moldovans the "theft of the century" and cost the country roughly one-eighth of annual GDP. A number of people including former Prime Minister Vlad Filat have been jailed in connection with the case, which crippled the national currency and led to street protests and aid freezes.

Written by Eugen Tomiuc with reporting by Tamara Grejdean