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Legislation Impacting Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Radicalisation Efforts

Legislation Impacting Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Radicalisation Efforts

Article 1 of the Constitution of Romania declares Romania a unitary nation state by preventing the possibility of establishing national autonomy. Article 37 of the Constitution directly prohibits the activities of parties for creating such autonomies. Article 148 prohibits the revision of provisions of the Constitution regarding the nationality, unity and inseparability of the Romanian state, territorial integrity and the official language.

This does not mean that Romania does not recognise national minorities. Article 6 of the Constitution states: “the State recognizes and guarantees to persons belonging to national minorities the right to preserve, develop and express their ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious identity”. In the Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review of the UN General Assembly on Romania, the country's delegation stated that Romania considers the protection of the culture and identity of national minorities as a key priority. Moreover, the Romanian authorities recognize the representation of national minorities in the parliament and in local government. It is the lack of a legal way to change the unitary nature of the state, which indirectly is against the interests of the Hungarian minorities and their representative political parties.

Additionally, in February 2012, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Romania adopted a by-law - the rules of providing social assistance in accordance with the Act № 292 “On Social Assistance”. According to the regulations the right to social benefits is denied to those who are not listed in the lists of taxpayers, as well as to anyone owning precious jewellery or more than 100 grams of gold, artwork, expensive china or crystal, furs and other valuables. Despite the denials of Romanian officials, this law is implicitly directed against the Roma, as most of them are not in the lists of taxpayers and gold ornaments are their essential attribute, are handed down to next generations, worn with pride and never sold.

The new Civil Procedural Code, which came into force on the 15th of February 2013, limited the grounds on which the issue of eviction may be considered in court with of property or the expiration of the lease agreement. This hits the Roma, who usually do not have any documents regarding ownership. There are restrictions for religious confessions – to register they must be active for at least 12 years and unite at least 20,000 believers.

There is no definition of hate crime or hate speech in the Romanian legal framework. Rather, there are legal criminal, civil or administrative provisions that fall under the categories of hate crimes and hate speech based on their specific content. The word "hatred" is mentioned in Romanian legislation, namely once in the Criminal Code. A code that provides for a sanction for the offense of hate speech or discrimination. However, the exact meaning of the term "hatred" is not directly defined in criminal law. Similarly, "hate" is also mentioned once in the Audiovisual Law no. 504/2002, regarding "prohibition of hate speech through broadcast programs" (Article 40).

Hate crime as an aggravating circumstance is provided for in Article 77, h) of the Romanian Criminal Code. It reads: “Aggravating circumstances are: (…) h) the crime was committed for reasons related to race, nationality, ethnicity, language, gender, sexual orientation, political opinion or membership, property, social origin, age, disability, chronic non-communicable disease or HIV/AIDS status, or for other reasons of the same type that the offender considers to be a cause of inferiority person from other people.”

Public insults and slander towards a person or group of people on the basis of race, colour, language, religion, nationality or national background, ethnicity is not prohibited by criminal law as insults or slander are not considered crimes according to Romanian laws.

As noted in the previous section, a new and generally positive amendment to the Gender Equality Law, passed by Parliament on 10 July 2018 and promulgated by the President on 2 August 2018, entered into force on 6 August 2018. The new provisions give the police, gendarmerie and local police the power to punish all acts of harassment, sexual harassment and psychological harassment, whether they occur in the public or private sphere. However, the amendment also reduces by 10 times the level of administrative fines that can be imposed in the case of all other forms of gender-based discrimination, including harassment.

On October 25, 2018, the Romanian Parliament adopted the Anti-Money Laundering Law. Under this law, NGOs are defined as "reportable entities" similar to commercial entities such as banking institutions, auditors, accountants, notaries, gambling service providers, real estate or trusts, and companies insofar as they provide financial services. This status is associated with due diligence obligations towards partners or individuals, obligations that entail additional procedures and costs for reporting activities. Legislators exempted from this status 18 organizations representing national minorities represented in the Romanian Parliament. However, other NGOs representing the same national and ethnic minorities will have equal obligations. A sanction for non-compliance by an organization with these obligations will result in the dissolution of the NGO.

According to the accepted wording of the law, every person whom civil society organizations actually help in any way must be reported to the anti-money laundering authorities within a maximum of 30 days from the date the NGO service was provided. This means that, regardless of the type of service or assistance provided, an NGO will have to register and notify the authorities and provide personal data of its beneficiaries - persons with disabilities, persons belonging to national and ethnic minorities or religious minorities, persons living in HIV/AIDS, victims of abuse, victims of human rights violations, LGBT persons receiving psychological or legal assistance, journalists or children involved in any NGO activity.

The application of this law resulted in an arbitrary restriction of freedom of association, as it created an unjustified and disproportionate burden on NGOs. In addition, with regard to NGOs providing any support, training or outreach services to beneficiaries belonging to vulnerable groups, excessive requirements in the legislation not only paralyze the activities of NGOs, but also violate the right to privacy and confidentiality and lead to discrimination against their beneficiaries.

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