on the implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities by Romania
(Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 18 December 2013
at the 1187bis meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies)
The Committee of Ministers, under the terms of Articles 24 to 26 of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (hereinafter referred to as “the Framework Convention”),
Having regard to Resolution Res(97)10 of 17 September 1997 setting out rules adopted by the Committee of Ministers on the monitoring arrangements under Articles 24 to 26 of the Framework Convention;
Having regard to the voting rule adopted in the context of adopting Resolution Res(97)10;1
Having regard to the instrument of ratification submitted by Romania on 11 May 1995;
Recalling that the Government of Romania transmitted its State report in respect of the third monitoring cycle under the Framework Convention on 16 May 2011;
Having examined the Advisory Committee’s third opinion adopted on 21 March 2012, as well as the written comments of the Government of Romania received on 5 April 2013;
Having also taken note of comments by other governments,
1. Adopts the following conclusions in respect of Romania:
a) Positive developments
Romania has pursued a constructive approach towards the monitoring process and has taken useful steps to translate and disseminate the results of the two first cycles of monitoring. The authorities have also maintained an inclusive approach in practice in the communication with representatives of the national minorities.
Since ratifying the Framework Convention in 1995, Romania has continued in its efforts to protect national minorities. The National Council for Combating Discrimination, established in 2000, continues to act independently and decisively combating discrimination. A number of initiatives have been taken by the authorities to combat discrimination, to increase human rights awareness and to raise professional standards among police officers.
Numerous efforts have been undertaken to promote intercultural dialogue between the majority and national minorities, and between various national minorities. There are no particular difficulties with regard to the use of minority languages to indicate place names.
The authorities continue to support cultural activities of national minorities and any minority organisation or non-governmental organisation can compete for the funds, whether it is represented in the Council of National Minorities or not. Romania has made progress with regard to the restitution of property, including that of religious institutions, confiscated during the communist regime. Since 2008, the Romanian Television Society started broadcasting a substantial number of programmes in minority languages and about minority communities, on the newly created TV3 channel dedicated to local and regional communities.
The adoption of the new Law on Education in 2011 has provided Romania with a more detailed legal framework for education and established legal guarantees for persons belonging to national minorities. The new law stipulates that persons belonging to national minorities have the right to be educated in their mother tongue at all levels of pre-university education. Schools or classes with teaching in the minority language can be established upon the request of parents or legal guardians. However, the law does not identify any minimum threshold concerning the number of children required.
Significant steps, such as the training and employment of the Roma2 school mediators, have been taken by the authorities to promote the education of Roma children. The banning by a Ministerial Order of segregation in schools of Roma children and approving the methodology for preventing and eliminating this phenomenon are to be welcomed. Representatives of the Roma generally acknowledge the significant efforts of the authorities to improve access to health care for Roma, including by training and employing health mediators. Many local authorities, in co-operation with central authorities and co-ordinated by the National Agency for Roma, have undertaken significant efforts to improve the living conditions in Roma settlements and to improve access to employment.
b) Issues of concern
The draft Law on the Status of National Minorities which provides for particular registration conditions for organisations of persons belonging to national minorities, which has been under consideration in various forms for a number of years, has still not been adopted. Consequently, it is difficult for persons belonging to national minorities to establish such organisations and benefit from particular provisions of the electoral legislation which establish favourable conditions for organisations of national minorities which are represented in the Council of National Minorities.
Since the last cycle of monitoring, Romania has adopted neither clear criteria nor a specific procedure for the recognition of national minorities. As a consequence, only minorities which are represented in the Council of National Minorities are afforded the protection of the Framework Convention. It has to be noted that there has not been any revision and there is no institutional mechanism concerning the possible revision of representation and participation in the Council for National Minorities since its establishment. Persons identifying themselves as Aromanians and Hungarian Csangos expressed their interest in the protection afforded by the Framework Convention. Notwithstanding the Romanian authorities’ support for these groups, including allocation of resources for cultural projects, their situation has not changed substantially.
The ongoing process of digitalisation and the introduction of new media has not been assessed with regard to the needs and interests of national minorities. There are concerns about possible interruptions to reception due to technical or geographical complications in particular in remote border areas.
Under the new Law on Education, persons belonging to national minorities have a right and legitimate expectation to have their languages and cultures adequately reflected and safeguarded in the educational system. It is important that all forms and levels of education promote contacts. It is also of particular importance that the elements of intercultural and multicultural education be included in the curricula for both pupils belonging to national minorities and the majority.
In spite of all the measures taken by the authorities and the general adequacy of the legal framework concerning the protection of national minorities in the field of education, access to education in some minority languages, in particular for persons belonging to numerically smaller minorities, remains limited and difficult, especially with regard to people living in rural areas.
The funds for the implementation of the Strategy for Roma 2011-2020, which focuses on increasing the level of education and qualification of the Roma, in order to increase their employment rate, to decrease poverty levels, to prevent social exclusion and discrimination of Roma in society, and also to improve their health and housing conditions have not been clearly defined. These shortcomings constitute the main problems as regards its possible implementation. Due to a lack of resources allocated to the previous Strategy for Roma, the results which were achieved were limited, and the shortcomings have not been overcome.
Cases of hate speech targeting Roma continue to be reported. It is particularly disturbing that persons belonging to the Roma community still face discrimination, and negative stereotypes and prejudices on the part of some sectors of the Romanian society. Evictions remain an unresolved issue among Roma communities. The resettlement of the Roma in places lacking the necessary standards, both as regards housing itself, but also as regards transportation facilities, access to schools and other educational establishments for children, health centres and employment opportunities for adults, is of particular concern.
In spite of all the measures taken by the authorities to improve the situation, Roma children continue to face challenges in the education system. Cases of Roma children being placed in schools for children with disabilities, in separate schools or in separate classrooms continue to be reported. In recent years, a number of decisions of the National Council for Combating Discrimination have found this conduct to be of a discriminatory nature, but the impact of these decisions remains limited.
2. Adopts the following recommendations in respect of Romania:
In addition to the measures to be taken to implement the detailed recommendations contained in sections I and II of the opinion of the Advisory Committee, the authorities are invited to take the following measures to improve further the implementation of the Framework Convention:
Issues for immediate action:3
- allocate adequate resources to address the situation of Roma with regard to housing, infrastructure, employment, access to health care and education; when carrying out relocations, respect in all instances the right to consultation and provide adequate alternative housing without delay; ensure that relocations do not increase isolation or restrict the right of access of children to education;
- examine without delay the legislation on national minorities to fill in the identified legal gaps and to clarify state policy towards minorities; review the registration conditions envisaged for organisations of national minorities in order to broaden and strengthen minority participation in public affairs;
- monitor effectively the implementation of the Law on Education to ensure that the criteria for initiation of classes and schools in minority languages are defined and that the education system introduces and develops curricula, teaching methods and structures which promote contacts among all minorities as well as with the majority.
- continue the dialogue with persons having expressed an interest in the protection afforded by the Framework Convention, on the possibility of including them in the scope of application of the Framework Convention; adopt measures to support the preservation of the culture and identity of those persons;
- increase efforts to combat all forms of intolerance, racism, and xenophobia; take further legislative measures and policies to combat racist manifestations, in particular against Roma, including in the media, and the political arena, in conformity also with the Committee of Ministers’ Recommendation Rec(97)20 on “Hate Speech”;
- ensure that sufficient resources are available for the effective implementation of the Strategy for Roma 2011-2020; make determined efforts to find ways and means to improve substantially the participation of the Roma – including Roma women – in decision-making processes; create conditions for Roma and their organisations to participate actively in governmental programmes aimed at improving their situation;
- assure continuity of reception of public service broadcasting, in particular by ensuring simulcast broadcasting in analogue and digital formats and only discontinue analogue broadcasting when digital reception is possible for all sectors of the population, including persons belonging to national minorities;
- ensure that Roma children are not placed in separate classes or schools and that they are integrated fully into mainstream education.
3. Invites the Government of Romania, in accordance with Resolution Res(97)10:
a. to continue the dialogue in progress with the Advisory Committee;
b. to keep the Advisory Committee regularly informed of the measures it has taken in response to the conclusions and recommendations set out in sections 1 and 2 above.
1 In the context of adopting Resolution Res(97)10 on 17 September 1997, the Committee of Ministers also adopted the following rule: “Decisions pursuant to Articles 24.1 and 25.2 of the Framework Convention shall be considered to be adopted if two-thirds of the representatives of the Contracting Parties casting a vote, including a majority of the representatives of the Contracting Parties entitled to sit on the Committee of Ministers, vote in favour”.
2 The term “Roma” used at the Council of Europe refers to Roma, Sinti, Kale and related groups in Europe, including Travellers and the Eastern groups (Dom and Lom), and covers the wide diversity of the groups concerned, including persons who identify themselves as “Gypsies”.
3 The recommendations below are listed in the order of the corresponding articles of the Framework Convention.