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US Department of State: Corruption, especially among officials, is a serious problem in Romania

US Department of State human rights report on Romania: Corruption remains widespread phenomenon. Bribes still common. Politicians hold media influence

Corruption remains a widespread phenomenon in Romania and bribery is still a common practice in the public sector, according to the US Department of State report on respect for human rights in Romania in 2017. The document reads that politicians hold media and influence editorial policy.

Main issues:

  • Prison conditions remained harsh and overcrowded and did not meet international standards. The abuse of prisoners by authorities and other prisoners reportedly continued to be a problem;
  • According to official figures, overcrowding was a problem, particularly in those prisons that did not meet the standard of 43 square feet per prisoner set by the Council of Europe. As of July the country held 24,813 persons in prisons designed for only 18,127;
  • In April the ECHR issued a pilot judgment against the country regarding prison and detention center conditions. According to the decision, the court had previously observed more than 150 cases of overcrowding and improper material conditions in prisons and pretrial detention facilities;
  • According to advocates of the Romanian Jewish community, the disappearance of entire document repositories, combined with limited access to other archives, prevented the Jewish community from filing certain claims before the legal deadlines. The National Authority for Property Restitution (ANRP) rejected most restitution claims concerning former Jewish communal properties during its administrative procedure;
  • Two major private broadcasters, Antena 3 and Romania Television, were controlled by businessmen who were vocal supporters of the government. Both outlets gave strongly critical and factually inaccurate coverage of the January antigovernment protests. NGOs protested that the outlets sought to compromise the demonstrators as well as freedom of expression;
  • While independent media were active and expressed a wide variety of views without overt restriction, politicians or persons with close ties to politicians and political groups either owned or indirectly controlled numerous media outlets at the national and local levels. The news and editorial stance of these outlets frequently reflected their owners’ views. There were also allegations that owners suppressed stories at odds with their interests or threatened the authors of such stories;
  • As of August 31, the DNA had sent to trial 209 cases involving 573 defendants, including a minister, two members of parliament, a deputy minister, a judge, a prosecutor, 12 mayors, and 16 police officers. Verdicts in corruption cases were often inconsistent, with sentences varying widely for similar offenses. Enforcement of court procedures lagged mostly due to procedural and administrative problems, especially with respect to asset forfeiture;
  • Bribery was common in the public sector, especially in health care. Individual executive agencies were slow in enforcing sanctions, and agencies’ own inspection bodies were generally inactive;
  • Material promoting anti-Semitic views and glorifying Legionnaires also appeared in media, including on the internet. According to a report published by the Wiesel Institute, considerable numbers of users and groups on social media in the country advocated extermination of Jews or other violent acts. In April vandals destroyed 10 tombstones in a Jewish cemetery in Bucharest;
  • Despite an order by the Ministry of Education forbidding segregation of Romani students, segregation along ethnic lines persisted;
  • Throughout the year some local government officials made statements that contributed to ethnic stereotyping of Roma. Public figures, politicians, and supporters of the Coalition for Family made discriminatory remarks concerning the LGBTI community;
  • Employees of the Ministry of National Defense, certain categories of civilian employees of the Ministries of Interior and Justice, judges, prosecutors, intelligence personnel, and senior public servants, including the president, parliamentarians, mayors, prime minister, ministers, employees involved in security-related activities, and president of the Supreme Court, did not have the right to unionize;
  • According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, 132 of the 756 victims of trafficking officially identified in 2016 were exploited specifically for labour purposes.

About Valeriu Lazar