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C a s e   S t u d y   o n   R a c i  a l   D i s c r i m i n a t i o n

in Mures County, Romania

Pro Europa League
Human Rights Office

 TÓrgu-Mures, Piata Trandafirilor nr. 5, et. III., P.O. Box: 1-154
Tel./Fax: 40-265-250182
www.proeuropa.ro
office@proeuropa.ro

Prepared by: Haller IstvŠn


Realised by the support of the Council of Europe
Abstract

The study, made in the framework of the Case study and Awareness Raising Project on Racial Discrimination in Mures County, Romania (1 March - 31 May 2003), financed by the Council of Europe, is a part of the Non-Discrimination Review project, launched by Secretariat of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

Goals:
• to assess the implementation of the national and international legislation on the prevention of racial discrimination at local level;
• to inventory good practices and problems at local level;
• to recommend measures to overcome racial discrimination, where identified.

Topics:
The Romanian Non-Discrimination Review country group experts, consulting an important number of experts in non-discrimination policies and minority representatives, decided to focus his activity on the fields of:
• equality in education;
• equal access to social services, jobs and public places;
• equal treatment before tribunals, by law enforcement officials, in prison.
These three domains are also the topics of the study.
Target:
As target of the study, Mures county has been selected because:
• it is one of the most diversified regions of Romania by ethnicity, language and religion;
• it has been in the past the scene for interethnic and interreligiouse conflicts;
• the public discourse of officials and political parties goes in opposition with the legislative provisions.
The target ethnic groups are the Hungarians, the Roma, the Germans and the Jews.
Instruments of research:
• statistics at national and local level;
• interviews (50);
• questionnairs (applied on 400 persons);
• round table discussions (5);
• field visits (6);
• press monitoring (3 local and 2 regional newspapers, for a periode of 3 months).
Structure of the study:
• the first part (chapter 1 and 2) presents the background information (geographic situation, demographic structure, political situation, major ethnic and religious conflicts in Mures county) and a case study of the PEL's Human Rights Office;
• the second part (chapter 3) is the sociological research on discrimination, realised in the three fields, using questionnaires, interviews and statistics;
• the third part (chapter 4, 5, 6) summarises the results of the research and presents the conclusions and recommendations;
• the fourth part (annexes) offers additional information for a better understanding of the situation
Equality in education:
Legislation:
- by the Law on Education no. 151/1999,
• in each locality, if necessary, education in languages of national minorities must be provided in public school system (art. 8);
• persons belonging to national minorities have the right to study and receive instruction in their native language, at all levels and forms of education with appropriate request (art. 118);
- by ordinances of the Ministry of National Education and Research, special places should be offered for Roma students in highschools and universities.
Findings by the study:
- good practices:
• Hungarians have mother tongue education from kindergarten to university level;
• Germans have mother tongue education from kindergarten to highschool (until 12 grades);
• Romani language was intruduced in curricula, according to possibilities;
• to prepare minority language teachers, special places are offered for minorities in several universities with pedagogical profile;
• for Roma youth, special places are offered in highschools, pedagogical schools and universities;
• the policy in the domain of minority education include also publishing of schoolbooks in minority languages;
• in the County School Inspectorate and school managing boards Hungarian, Roma and German teachers are present;
• measures to combat poverty and offering aid in the schoolsystem exists, they help to reduce school abandon.
- problems remaining:
• teachers are not familiar with the therms and phenomena connected to discrimination;
• laws regarding discrimination, use of mother tongue, minority education are not well knowen by teachers;
• the number of qualified teachers for minorities is low;
• in highschools, in several profiles, minority language education does not exists;
• in some fields, minority language schoolbooks does not exists;
• in school curricula the culture of minorities and intercultural dimension is almost absent;
• the multiculturalism in multilingual schools is not a general practice;
• feelings of minority teachers and students to be "second class citizens" is not taken in consideration;
• the evaluation procedure of teachers is based on obtained results without any connection to the social background of children;
• lack of experience of young teachers to work in Roma (or other disadvantaged) communities;
• the overload of those who choose for a minority language education;
• it need more measures to combat poverty and offering aid in the schoolsystem;
• seriouse direct and indirect discrimination of Roma children by not registering them in some schools, placing children in specially created classes for Roma, ignoring Roma children in the class, using public humiliation, transforming school for mentally retarded children in a Roma school.
- recommendations:
The National Council to Combat Discrimination should:
• inform school authorities that they must apply the non-discrimination legislation;
• offer training, in partnership with NGO's in the domain, for teachers, to know legislation, to understood the effects of discrimination and how to prevent it;
The Ministry of National Education and Research should:
• introduce in the school curricula more information regarding minorities in Romania (in history and geography textbooks), and also regarding the question of discrimination (in civic education textbooks);
• create an inventory of deficiencies in the area of minority language teaching, offering special places in universities where the number of minority teachers is not adequate;
• offer more special places for minorities in the field of law, to balance the lack of minority persons in the judicial system;
• develop the school curricula in a manner to not overload the students who learn in their mother tongue; teaching of the mother tongue and exams in the mother tongue should be not classified as extracurricular education;
• offer mother tongue education, where important minority communities exist, in every profile and domain;
• develop new strategies for evaluation of teachers, taking into consideration not only the results of children, but more the social background of children, to promote those who obtain results in educating disadvantaged communities and persons; this evaluation should have real effects in increasing salaries;
• avoid religious discrimination in schools recommending the controll of the equal representation of minority symbols in the public schools and preventing the transformation of state schools in places of Orthodox worship.
The County School Inspectorates should
• verify the multicultural and multilingual character of the schools, multiculturalism and multilingualism should be present not only in minority language classes, but also in the common spaces, such as corridors of the building or during different celebrations;
• intervene to prevent 'elite' state schools from excluding Roma students; any direct or indirect discrimination (including separation of students in Roma and non-Roma classes, if it is not on grounds of Romani language education) has to be stopped, with consequences for headmasters;
• the practice of special schools has to be revised;
• change the policies on nominating headmasters and assistant headmasters primarly from majority persons, in order to offer minority persons also the possibility of reaching high positions;
• to employ administrative staff familiar with minority languages.
The universities with graduates who will become teachers should
• introduce in curricula corresponding methodology to work in disadvantaged communities;
• organise practical exercises, pedagogical practice in this communities
• provide for multicultural courses.
Equal access to social services, jobs and public places
Legislation:
- Ordinance On Preventing and Sanctioning All Forms of Discrimination (as modified and approved by Law 48/2002) guarantees:
• the right to equal treatment before courts and any other jurisdictional bodies;
• economic, social and cultural rights;
• the right of access to all public places and services;
in the fields of:
• employment conditions, criteria and conditions of recruitment, selection and promotion, access to all forms and levels of professional orientation, professional training;
• social protection and social security;
• public services or other services, access to goods and facilities;
• the educational system;
• other fields of social life.
- by the Law 188/1999 on the Statute of Public Servants,
• in administrative-territorial units in which the percentage of persons belonging to a national minority is more than 20%, public servants in direct contact with citizens should also know the language of that national minority (art. 99);
- according to Local Public Administration Law, no. 215/2001,
• in administrative-territorial units in which the percentage of persons belonging to a national minority is more than 20%, the local public administration authorities have to use in the relations with minorities their mother tongue (art. 17);
• minority persons will receive the written answer to their problem both in Romanian and their mother tongue (art. 90);
• persons that speaks the minorities mother tongue should be hired in the public relations offices (art. 90);
- the Strategy of the Government of Romania for Improving the Condition of the Roma (issued in 2001) establish lines of action in the domains of:
• community development and administration;
• housing;
• social security;
• health care;
• economy;
• justice and public order;
• education;
- according to the Law on Guaranteed Minimal Income no. 416/2001
• every Romanian citizen, has the right to a guaranteed minimal income as a form of social aid.
Findings by the study:
- good practices:
• County Office for Roma was established and local experts in Roma affairs operate under some mayoralties;
• the Mures County Office for Roma realised a number of studies to improve the condition of the Roma, which could be an important base for future policies;
• measures was taken in 2002 to solve the problem of identity cards for Roma;
• multilingualism started to be introduced in the work of local authorities.
- problems remaining:
• public servants are not familiar with the terms and phenomena connected to discrimination or minorities in general;
• public servants do not know the legislation in the domain of public administration, first of all provisions on use of minority languages;
• legislative measures on use of minority languages are not fully implemented;
• the structural discrimination in public administration is relevant;
• the knowledge of minority languages by public servants is not encouraged by administrative rewards (salary);
• existence of Roma experts in local authorities is not well knowen by public servants;
• unemployment among Roma is still very large, specific measures are not takren or are not efficient;
• the housing situation of Roma is critical, there is no strategy to solve the problem;
• legislation regarding social aid is not respected by governmental bodies;
• Roma are several times victims of direct discrimination, by refusal of free access in public places or to services;
- recommendations:
The National Council to Combat Discrimination should:
• inform local authorities that they must apply the non-discrimination legislation;
• offer training, in partnership with NGO's in the domain, for public servants, help them to know legislation, to understood the effects of discrimination and how to prevent it;
• open branches at the county or regional level and set up partnership with minority associations and NGOs active in the field of non-discrimination, to solve the various situations;
The Ministry on Public Administration should:
• find ways to make public servants interested in obtaining knowledge regarding minorities and discrimination (salary increase, etc);
• verify, from time to time, the knowledge of public servants in the area of specific legislation.
The Government and the local authorities should:
• allocate special funds in their budget to create normal living conditions for Roma communities;
• provide integrally the aids stipulated by laws for disadvantaged groups.
The local authorities should:
• create internal control bodies to verify the legality of different acts, in order to respect legislative measures on use of the mother tongue, implement special measures and combat discrimination
• report problems, needs or proposals for new special measures to the National Council to Combat Discrimination to find solutions at national level.
Equal treatment before tribunals, by law enforcement officials, in prison
Legislation
Romanian Constitution guarantees
• equality before law (art. 16)
• use of mother tongue during penal investigation and before tribunals by citizens belonging to national minorities, as well as persons who cannot understand or speak Romanian (art. 127).
Romanian Penal Code punishes
• the abuse in duty by restriction of rights (art. 247);
• nationalist chauvinistic propaganda (art. 317).
Emergency Ordinance to Prohibit Fascist, Racist or Xenophob Organisations and Promote of Personal Cult of those who are Guilty with some Crimes against Peace and Humanity no. 31/2002
• prohibit fascist, racist or xenophob organisations.
Law 48/202 On Preventing and Sanctioning All Forms of Discrimination
• punish all forms of discrimination, incuding racial discrimination.
By Law no. 178/1997 to Approval and Payment of Interpreters and Translators Used by Penal Investigation Authorities, Courts, Notaries Offices, Attorney and by Ministry of Justice
• the translation in Romanian during penal investigation and before tribunals has to be offered by authorised interpreters.
Strategy of the Government of Romania for Improving the Condition of the Roma (2001) prescribes
• the necessity of hiring citizens of Roma origin in the public order services and the police force.
Findings by the study
- good practices:
• it is expressed the need to hire minority persons in the judicial system;
• mother tongue, even in a limited way, is used during penal investigation and before tribunals;
- problems reamining:
• a jurisprudence on punishing abuse in duty by restriction of rights, nationalist chauvinistic propaganda, to prohibit fascist, racist or xenophob organisations also to promote of personal cult of those who are guilty with crimes against humanity, to punish all forms of discrimination, incuding racial discrimination, does not exists;
• the refuse to retrocede the community properties of ethnic or religious minorities, confiscated by the communist regime, creates suspitions among minority leaders regarding the implementation of the constitutional provisions regarding equality before laws;
• translations, even in penal cases, during investigation and trial, are offered by non-qualified persons;
• structural discrimination in the judicial system is substantial;
• there exist serious signes of direct discrimination of Roma, indicating that they become the first victims of law enforcement official abuses;
• the low number of prosecutors and judges creates the possibility for a situation in which prejudices could be more effective than clear evidences.
- recommendations:
The National Council to Combat Discrimination should:
• inform judiciar authorities regarding the application of the non-discrimination legislation;
• offer training, in partnership with NGO's in the domain, for police officers, prosecutors and judges, to understood the effects of discrimination in the society and the importance of punish it;
The Ministry of National Education and Research should:
• offer more special places for minorities in the field of law, to balance the lack of minority persons in the judicial system;
• provide for places and opportunities for translators in the field of legislation;
The Ministry of Interior should:
• find positive measures to increase the number of minority persons employed as police officers.
The Ministry of Justice should:
• review policies regarding the penal investigation, creating a larger structure of prosecutors and judges.
 
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