University of Minnesota

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of
Racial Discrimination, Romania, U.N. Doc. A/50/18, paras. 262-278 (1995).




Forty-sixth session


Concluding observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination


(a) Introduction

262. At its 1096th meeting, held on 16 March 1995, the Committee adopted the following concluding observations.

263. The Committee welcomes the report of the State party, which was drafted in general accordance with the Committee's guidelines for the presentation of State party reports, and the additional material and oral information provided by the delegation.

264. The Committee expresses regret, however, that some additional answers provided did not fully address many of the questions posed by the Committee during the consideration of the report. In particular, the information given only orally on the agreement between Romania and Germany on the transfer of Sinti and Roma is insufficient. In this regard, the Committee invites the Government to submit in its next report information on the points raised in the present concluding observations and on any remaining questions posed during the consideration of the present report. Given the short time remaining until the next report is due in October 1995, the Committee considers that that report should be a brief but complete update of the situation surrounding the rights protected in the Convention and that the following report, to be submitted in October 1997, should comprehensively address the situation regarding all of the articles contained therein.

265. The Committee expresses appreciation for the invitation extended by the delegation to visit Romania and to undertake direct consultations on the human rights situation with the competent authorities.

(b) Factors and difficulties impeding the application of the Convention

266. With Romania's history of authoritarian rule, which has severely impeded the enjoyment of many human rights in the State party, it is understood that the establishment and practical application of a new democratic and non-discriminatory political, economic and social framework is a difficult and time-consuming process.

(c) Positive aspects

267. Romania has also made progress in dismantling or revising the legal framework established during the period of authoritarian rule, particularly the Penal Code; it encourages democracy and openness in Romanian society and brings the legal codes closer in line with international human rights instruments, including the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The establishment of national human rights institutions is also noted, including the Council for National Minorities, the Centre for European Studies of Ethnic Problems, the Romanian Human Rights Institute, and the office of an Ombudsman to be exclusively concerned with the defence of human rights and freedoms. It is noted that these actions conform with General Recommendation XVII on the establishment of national human rights institutions.

268. Regarding the Government's new policy directions regarding minorities, note is taken of the Government's intention to preserve the ethnic, linguistic, cultural and religious identity of minorities and to protect them against attempts at forced assimilation, exclusion or segregation, as expressed in the Declaration on National Minorities of 20 November 1991. The increasing political participation of minority groups in Romania, both at the national and local levels, is noted.

269. Satisfaction is expressed with the Government's efforts to raise awareness of international human rights standards through civic instruction in the schools and through human rights training programmes initiated in cooperation with international human rights organizations, including the United Nations Centre for Human Rights. The legal provisions that prohibit speech which encourages racism or incites violence are also believed to be constructive.

(d) Principal subjects of concern

270. Concern is expressed as to the continued prevalence of xenophobic attitudes and traditional prejudices in Romanian society against certain minorities, manifested in the appearance of extremist political parties and increasing acts of violence.

271. Concern is also expressed about the concept of the nation-State since it may result in weakening the policy of protecting minorities and could aggravate the relations between communities.

272. While it is noted that Romania's new legal framework prohibits manifestations of racism, including acts of violence, the propagation of racist speech, and discriminatory employment practices, the extent to which measures are being taken by the Government to translate the legal prohibition of such acts into effective prohibition is unclear. Once such acts occur, it is not evident what remedies are available to victims and whether and how it is ensured that the guilty parties are prosecuted in an adequate and timely manner. It is noted in this connection that with regard to the violence on 20 September 1993 which resulted in the death of three members of the Roma and the destruction of the homes of 170 others, victims have yet to receive compensation or have their homes reconstructed.

273. Concern is expressed at the continuing reports of racism among police forces, which have been said to occasionally use excessive force against members of certain groups or, alternatively, are said not to take action when acts of violence against certain groups are committed in their presence.

(e) Suggestions and recommendations

274. The Committee recommends that the Government include in its next report information regarding the legal force of the Convention in Romania, especially enforcement of article 4, whether it may be directly invoked by victims of racism, and whether any such cases have been tried before the courts (and if so, what was the outcome of those cases). If codification into Romanian law is required before the Convention may be directly invoked, information is requested regarding the status of codification of the Convention. Information on the legal force of the Declaration on National Minorities of 20 November 1991 is also requested.

275. The Committee recommends that further information on the Law on Minorities be provided in the next report. It should contain the legal definition of "minorities", information on each of the ethnic groups listed in the present report (para. 16), and whether any special programmes are being implemented or are envisioned to improve the situation of the minorities identified, particularly the most vulnerable groups. The Committee further recommends that the Government systematically collect data on foreigners residing in Romania and take steps to ensure that they are not subjected to harassment or other acts of racism and xenophobia.

276. The Committee invites the Government to provide in its next report information regarding the agreement signed with Germany on the repatriation of Sinti and Roma, specifically as to how many persons are affected, which ethnic groups they belong to, and what measures are being taken to facilitate their reintegration into the repatriated country.

277. The Committee recommends that the Government engage in a public campaign, conducted through the media, the schools and other means at the disposal of the Government, to familiarize the public with the Convention, to attempt to change traditional prejudices against minorities, and to convey messages of tolerance. In this regard, the Government should continue to provide instruction on international human rights standards and norms in the schools and organize periodic training programmes for persons engaged in the administration of justice, including judges, police officers and lawyers.

278. The Committee recommends that the Government review and improve the training of law enforcement officials in the light of the Committee's general recommendation XIII.



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