Roma continued to be victims of ethnic stereotyping and discrimination in access to education, housing and employment. Racist and discriminatory remarks against Roma were reported from senior government figures and continued to be challenged by NGOs. The European Court of Human Rights found that Romania had violated the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment. Despite new evidence of Romanian participation in the CIA’s rendition and secret detention programme, the government continued to deny any involvement.
On 19 May, some 40,000 people attended what was reportedly the largest demonstration since the fall of Nicolae Ceauşescu in 1989. Public sector employees, including teachers and health care workers, as well as pensioners and mothers, protested against the austerity programme agreed to by the government, the International Monetary Fund and the EU to address the economic crisis. The programme stipulated a 25 per cent cut in salaries in the public sector, a 15 per cent cut in pensions, reduction of family benefits and cuts in welfare programmes. In July, the government reduced the capacity of or dissolved several agencies entrusted with promotion of equal opportunities and protection from discrimination. In August, the CERD Committee warned that the austerity measures might have a negative impact on the situation of the most vulnerable groups, and called for the adoption of measures that would ensure protection of such groups from the effects of the crisis.
An unauthorized protest by police officers over wage cuts led to the resignation of the Minister of Interior in September. In October, the government won a vote of no confidence for the second time in four months.Top of page
In spite of protests by NGOs, Roma continued to be victims of negative ethnic stereotyping, including at the highest levels of political discourse. The Minister of Foreign Affairs spoke about “links between criminality and the Romani community” and referred to a “natural” rate of delinquency among Roma. In November, during his visit to Slovenia, the President also referred to Roma as “delinquents” and spoke of them as “difficult to integrate” and “unwilling to work”. In December the government submitted a legislative proposal to parliament to change the official name of Roma as a minority to “Ţigan”. NGOs protested, given that the name “Ţigan” has pejorative connotations and stigmatizes the community.
In terms of wider society, an opinion poll on the public perception of Roma carried out by the Romanian Institute for Evaluation and Strategy in October showed that 67 per cent of Romanians would not accept a member of the Romani community in their family.
In August, the CERD Committee raised concerns that Roma continued to be victims of racial stereotyping and discrimination in access to quality education, housing, health care services and employment. Romania was criticized for a failure to adopt legislation required to turn previous commitments with regard to the situation of Roma into practice. The NGO Decade Watch concluded in April that this failure resulted from a lack of political will. The NGO Agentia de Dezvoltare Comunitară Împreună had reported in February that implementation of the National Roma Strategy was inadequate due to lack of funding of measures at the county level and lack of indicators to allow monitoring of the different bodies involved.
In a response to complaints against segregation of Romani pupils in schools, the Ministry of Education issued an internal guideline in March. This targeted school inspectorates, kindergartens, school principals and teachers and imposed a set of rules for the prevention and elimination of segregation of Romani pupils in the educational system.
In August, the CERD Committee called on Romania to facilitate access of Roma to housing and to avoid unlawful expropriation and forced evictions without offering alternative accommodation.
Concerns of inadequate implementation of the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment persisted, in particular with regard to the failure to prohibit the use of evidence gathered under torture or other ill-treatment in the criminal code, despite amendments in May.
In August, the CERD Committee noted excessive use of force and ill-treatment by law enforcement officials against minorities, and Roma in particular. Local NGOs also expressed concerns about continuing reports of torture and other ill-treatment in detention, and an ongoing climate of impunity in some cases.
In February, a UN Study on secret detention concluded that a plane operating within the CIA’s rendition programme flew from Poland to Romania on 22 September 2003. In response, the Romanian authorities acknowledged that several planes leased by the CIA made stopovers in Romania, but denied that the planes had carried detainees or that the country had hosted a secret detention site.
In July, the Polish Border Guard Office released information about the flight on 22 September 2003 which loaded passengers in Poland and flew to Romania. The government continued to deny any involvement in the CIA’s rendition and secret detention programme.Top of page