Thursday, May 24, 2007

Romania, AI Report 2007 24. 5. 2007


Roma continued to face intolerance and discrimination. Allegations of ill-treatment by law enforcement officials continued. Women remained at risk of trafficking and domestic violence. Concerns remained about patients in mental health institutions. The Council of Europe and the European Parliament expressed concern at Romania's lack of willingness to engage in a thorough investigation into allegations of collusion with the US-led programme of renditions and secret detention centres.

Discrimination
In its report on Romania, published in February, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance expressed concern at the lack of knowledge about and the failure to implement anti-discrimination legislation. The Roma community continued to be discriminated against in all areas including employment, education and housing.

A law to prevent and punish all forms of discrimination was amended in June to meet the requirements of the EU's racial equality directive. However, by the end of the year Parliament had yet to approve a draft law on the protection of ethnic minorities.

The Romani community
In January, the National Council for Combating Discrimination ruled that an anti-Roma speech made by Corneliu Vadim Tudor, leader of the Greater Romania Party (Partidul România Mare), was in breach of Romanian anti-discrimination law. The speech referred to an incident in 1993 in the village of Hädäreni during which three Romani men were killed and 18 Romani houses were destroyed. No sanctions were initiated against him owing to parliamentary immunity.

The authorities failed to implement the July 2005 judgement by the European Court of Human Rights in the Hädäreni case. The community development strategy, initiated by the government in accordance with its obligations arising from the friendly settlement in the case, was reportedly shelved. The legal suits concerning the damages due to the victims of the attacks were still pending in national courts. A significant number of the perpetrators of the attacks, including law enforcement officials, remained unpunished.

In November, the National Council for Combating Discrimination fined several members of the New Right (Noua Dreaptä) organization for publishing a number of articles on the New Right website containing degrading, humiliating and offensive material about the Romani community. The Roma Centre for Social Intervention and Studies lodged a formal complaint against the New Right and against its leader, Tudor Ionescu; a decision was still pending at the end of the year.

Evictions

In October, the Tulcea municipality forcibly evicted 25 Romani families, around 110 people, from a building that they had occupied for the previous seven years. Some Roma accepted the offer by the municipality of rooms in two ruined buildings with no access to electricity, hot water and sanitation and only limited access to drinking water, located in an enclave inside the Tulcea industrial port. After their relocation, the children stopped going to school because of distance and their parents' fear for their safety.

The rest of the people evicted remained sleeping outside the building. The local authorities had only offered to move them to mobile housing located outside Tulcea, also in a heavily industrialized area. The authorities acknowledged these structures offered very limited shelter since they could not be connected to any utilities. Court proceedings challenging the legality of the evictions, which were brought by the European Roma Rights Centre and other Roma non-governmental organizations (NGOs), were continuing at the year's end. Penal code amendments.

In June, international and domestic NGOs expressed their concern regarding amendments to the Penal Procedure Code. These allow prosecutors to intercept electronic mail and tap phones for up to 96 hours before informing a judge and to undermine client-lawyer confidentiality through phone tapping.

Police concerns
In August, five Romani individuals reported that they had been subjected to physical abuse during a joint operation by Bontida village police and Cluj county gendarmerie. Two of the Roma were minors who were allegedly prevented from contacting their parents while held at the police station. Both the police and gendarmerie denied any abuses. A complaint lodged by the men was still pending at the end of the year.

In September, violent clashes between police and members of the Romani community in Reghin, Apalina district, reportedly resulted in injuries to two policemen and 36 Romani women, men and children. The incident reportedly began when a police officer alleged that he had been assaulted by two Romani men. Shortly afterwards, a violent altercation broke out after plain-clothes police officers and masked Special Forces police officers arrived at the Apalina district, reportedly to serve two subpoenas. The police claimed they were attacked by several Roma using rocks, metal bars and pitchforks. The Roma claimed that Special Forces officers provoked the violence by using excessive force, including by firing rubber bullets and tear gas. The initial police investigation cleared the officers of any wrongdoing. In November, following a visit by two members of the European Parliament, the General Police Inspectorate opened a preliminary investigation into the incident. The investigation was continuing at the end of the year.
(Amnesty International)

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