Annual report – 2009
In the first half of 2009, APADOR-CH’s activity was aimed at contributing to the organization’s overall objective, which is for the organization to successfully carry out its mission to raise the level of awareness on, and respect of human rights and the rule of law. In this respect, APADOR-CH followed to meet a number of seven specific objectives:
- Strengthening the constituency for human rights with political actors, in media and with the general public
- Improving the practices regarding the legal protection of vulnerable groups against discrimination
- Developing efficient mechanisms to ensure the rights of persons deprived of liberty
- Increasing transparency of administration
- Improving reasoning and transparency of judicial decisions;
- Eliminating unjustified state interference with the NGOs’ associational life
- Reacting to human rights threats
- Objective #1: Strengthening the constituency for human rights with political actors, in media and with the general public
|More political actors support human rights||Meetings with leading politicians and MPs, especially members of the human rights and legal committees of the two Chambers of Parliament||2009||At least 50% of the MPs in the human rights and legal committees of the two Chambers of Parliament meet with APADOR-CH representatives|
|Round-tables with political actors on important human rights issues (topics to be decided according to existing initiatives at the material time)||2009 -2011||– At least 2 round-tables per year are organized;
– – At least 10 politicians participate in each meeting
|More journalists include a human rights perspective in their work||Meetings with journalists in charge with justice and human rights issues for the main media outlets||2009||Representatives of at least 2 TV stations, 2 newspapers and 2 radio stations, all with national coverage, participate|
|Issuing Human Rights Newsletter for the media and the general public||2009-2011||At least 10 newsletters are issued each year|
|More citizens show interest and support to human rights||Updating APADOR-CH web-site with relevant information on human rights and create newsletter to be dispatched to those registered in a database of contacts||2009-2011||– At least 1,000 visitors of APADOR-CH web-site per month;
– At least 50 individuals redirect 2%of their income tax to APADOR-CH each year
– At least 12 RSS feeds for the website per year;
|Involving volunteers in APADOR-CH’s activity||2009-2011||At least 3 volunteers get involved in APADOR-CH’s activity, for a period of at least 3 months each, per year|
|Publishing an annual Human Rights Report for Romania||2009-2011||– At least 50 national/intl organizations receive the report
-At least 500 visitors read the report on-line
In the first half of 2009, APADOR-CH activity was mostly aimed at ensuring that human rights and the rule of law are respect in relation with the adoption of four new legislative codes: the Criminal Code, the Civil Code, the Criminal Procedure Code and the Civil Procedure Code. Therefore, the meetings with political actors and media were centered on this topic.
On 9 January 2009, APADOR-CH was the first NGO in Romania to publicly protest against the initiative of the Government to pass the four draft codes without a parliamentary debate. APADOR-CH also pointed out the flaws in the procedure of adopting the drafts, which did not included a real public consultation, as well as problematic material provisions affecting human rights and called for the withdrawal of the drafts and the organization of a real public consultation. Detailed comments on problematic provisions related to human rights in the draft Criminal Code and draft Criminal Procedure Code were prepared in the course of January 2009. After the authorities decided that a parliamentary debate would take place, on 13 February 2009, APADOR-CH sent its comments to the Ministry of Justice, to the chairs the two Chambers of the Parliament, to the members of the legal commissions in the Parliament and to the prime-minister and drawn the public attention to the issue once more. In addition, on 27 February 2009, APADOR-CH issued a public protest regarding the proposed provision that illegally obtained evidence, including through torture, can be used in the criminal proceeding provided certain conditions are met. On 9 March 2009 APADOR-CH publicly contradicted the incorrect clarifications provided by the Ministry of Justice on this topic.
In the course of March 2009, APADOR-CH participated to several informal meetings with representatives of other NGOs which resulted in the birth of the coalition “Stop the Codes!” which included 22 NGOs and was officially launched on 30 March 2009. As a member of the coalition, in April and May 2009, APADOR-CH participated to weekly press conferences, radio and TV broadcastings, as well as in several meetings with the President of Romania, the Prime-minister of Romania, the President of the Senate, MPs members of the special commissions debating the Civil Code and the Criminal Code. In addition, APADOR-CH provided assistance to media NGOs in correcting provisions of the Civil Code posing serious threats to freedom of expression. Such assistance included participating in several debates with the members of the drafting commission as well as MPs working on the draft Civil Code and resulted in correcting some of the most problematic provisions. Therefore the indicators for the first three planned activities for 2009 were met.
As regards issuing Human Rights Newsletter for the media and the general public no specific activities for creating a formal newsletter were undertaken in the first half of 2009, as most of the time and energy of the APADOR-CH staff was devoted to the draft codes. Nevertheless, between January and June 2009, APADOR-CH issued newsletters regarding cases decided by the ECHR in which APADOR-CH was involved, explaining the way the judgements affect the legal order. Six such newsletters were issued, regarding the following cases: Tatar (27 January), L.Z. (3 February), Tarau (24 February), Greek-Chatolic Parish Sf Vasile Polona (7 April), Olteanu (14 April) and Damian-Burueana & Damian (25 May). They were distributed to the media and posted on APADOR-CH’s web-page.
In the first half of 2009, APADOR-CH updated the content of its site and improved accessibility, which resulted in an increased traffic compared with 2008. According to www.trafic.ro, the number of visitors increased as follows:
|Month||Nov 2008||Dec 2008||Jan 2009||Feb 2009||Mar 2009||April 2009||May 2009||June 2009|
|No of unique visitors||494||408||591||1,660||1,795||1,668||1,721||1,489|
|No of visits||842||621||1,857||5,596||5,200||4,139||4,369||3,925|
The other indicators for success of this activity were not designed to be met during the reporting period.
In the first half of 2009, three volunteers were involved, on a regular basis, for more than three months, in APADOR-CH activity: Adelina Bobosatu (student in social assistance), Catalina Filote (student in law) and Bogdan Carpan (lawyer). They were involved in answering letters from individuals addressing APADOR-CH, organizing events and administrative matters.
In the second half of 2009, APADOR-CH continued to monitor the debates on the new Criminal Code and the new Criminal Procedure Code in the Parliament and participated in several meeting of the special commission debating it. APADOR-CH was in constant dialogue with both the members of the parliamentary commission and the staff, and was weekly updated on the decisions of the commission. As a result, almost all amendments proposed by APADOR-CH to the Criminal Procedure Code were adopted.
As regards issuing Human Rights Newsletter for the media and the general public no formal newsletter was issued in the second half of 2009. Nevertheless, between July and December 2009, APADOR-CH continued to issue newsletters regarding cases decided by the ECHR in which APADOR-CH was involved, explaining the way the judgements affect the legal order. One such newsletters was issued in November 2009, regarding two cases on freedom of expression (Ieremeiov v. Romania). It was distributed to the media and posted on APADOR-CH’s web-page.
In the second half of 2009, two volunteers were involved, on a regular basis, for more than three months, in APADOR-CH activity: Alexandra Savencu (student in European Studies), and Bogdan Carpan (lawyer). They were involved in answering letters from individuals addressing APADOR-CH, organizing events and administrative matters. Adelina Bobosatu, who previously worked as a volunteer for APADOR-CH for about one year, joined the staff in September 2009.
- Objective 2: Improving the practices regarding the legal protection of vulnerable groups against discrimination
|NGOs’ are better prepared to meet the advocacy and legal needs of vulnerable groups susceptible of discrimination||Training and assistance on human rights and rights based advocacy for social services NGOs working with the vulnerable groups susceptible of discrimination||2009||At least 15 NGOs receive training/assistance on human rights issues|
|Updating a resources web-page dedicated to NGOs working with vulnerable groups||2009-2011||At least 300 unique visitors of the web-page per month|
|Expanding a network of trained lawyers and experts available for NGOs working with vulnerable groups||2009-2011||– At least 100 lawyers and experts, covering at least 75% of counties, are included in the public APADOR-CH database
– At least 35 lawyers are trained on human rights each year
|Challenges of vulnerable groups susceptible of discrimination are documented||Monitoring access of drug users in detention (prisons, prison hospitals and police lockups) to HIV prevention and drug treatment services||2009||-a policy-paper, including proposals to improve the system, is drafted and is included in the strategy of public authorities
|Monitoring access of religious minorities to public services, including public cemeteries||2009||All local councils are informed on their obligation to ensure access to public services though a policy paper to be distributed|
|Improving Roma access to housing||Strategic litigation||2009-2010||At least one case is brought before the ECHR|
As regards the project aimed at increasing transparency of authorities when taking decisions involving individuals with disabilities, in the second half of 2009, APADOR-CH offered training assistance to the 20 NGOs trained at the beginning of the year. Together with these NGOs, APADOR-CH addressed 100 requests for information to asses the degree in which the authorities have respected their legal obligations in respect of individuals with disabilities. The responses were the base of an assessment report, which also included recommendations and practical tools for the authorities (such as a check list on their obligations towards the disabled). The report was launched in a public conference which took place in 13 October 2009 and then distributed to the relevant authorities.
In the second half of 2009, APADOR-CH continued to implement the project started on 1 May 2009 and aimed at strengthening the capacity of social service NGOs working with disadvantaged groups to defend the rights of their beneficiaries, including in the field of anti-discrimination. The guide on discrimination for individuals was published in 7800 copies and distribute via 20 NGOs working with vulnerable groups. In August and September a manual for lawyers on human rights and discrimination was published. The manual was further used in training sessions for lawyers who could support NGOs in defending their beneficiaries’ rights. Between October and December 2009, 5 such sessions were held in Iasi, Craiova, Cluj and Bucuresti with the participation of a total of 107 lawyers. NGOs also participated in the sessions in order to present to their lawyers the problems of their beneficiaries.
As regards the monitoring of access of drug users in detention (prisons, prison hospitals and police lockups) to HIV prevention and drug treatment services, during the reporting period APADOR-CH visited the Targsor prison for women (on 10 September 2009) and continued monitoring the legislative process regarding National Antidrug Agency prerogatives.
During the reporting period, APADOR-CH also secured funding for another project aimed at transferring APADOR-CH’s experience on advocacy to ARAS, the lead Romanian NGO in providing assistance to individuals infected with HIV/AIDS. The project started on 14 November 2009 and shall contribute to ARAS implementing an advocacy campaign for the taking over of funding HIV/AIDS services by local authorities.
- Objective 3: Developing efficient mechanisms to ensure the rights of persons deprived of liberty
|Romania ratifies and implements the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT)||Providing technical support (access permits, know-how etc) to existing pilot mechanism monitoring places of detention, set up by APADOR-CH and Centre for Legal Resources||2009-2011||-At least 5 volunteers continue to carry out monitoring visits in places of detention, each releasing at least 2 reports per year|
|Meetings with relevant decision-makers (Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Presidency) for informing them on the activity of the pilot mechanism and raise awareness on the need to ratify and implement the OPCAT||2009-2011||At least 3 decision-makers are met each year until the Protocol is implemented|
|Public statements on the need to ratify and implement the OPCAT||2009-2011||At least 2 statements are released each year until the Protocol is implemented|
|Exchange of information on best practices and advocacy methods with NGOs and authorities in other countries||2009-2011||The experience of at least 5 other countries in implementing the OPCAT is documented|
|Increasing the transparency of prison budgets and financial management||Addressing requests for information on the prison budgets (allocations v. expenditures)||2009-2011||All prisons and the National Administration of Penitentiaries answer the requests for information|
|Promoting best practices to prison administration||2009-2011||All prison administrations are informaed on the best practices|
|Improving efficiency of judges supervising places of detention||Training judges on human rights||2009-2011||At least 10 judges per year are trained|
|Promoting best practices among judges||2009-2011||All judges supervising detention places are informed on the best practices|
|Advocating the Ministry of Justice to modify the Law on prisons toward increased capacity of judges to apply sanctions to prison administration||2009-2011||MJ promotes the amendments to the Government|
|Informing persons deprived of liberty on the role of the judges||2009-2011||The number of admissible complaints increases with 5% each year|
In the second semester of 2009 APADOR-CH secured funding for a project aimed at implementing the OPCAT by the national authorities.
- Objective 4: Increasing transparency of administration
|Citizens gain direct access to information on decision taken by the local administration||Advocacy campaign to promoting best practices in publishing county official gazettes||2009-2011||At least 20 councils publish comprehensive county official gazettes by the end of 2011|
|The prefect becomes active in enforcing the Law on decisional transparency in the administration||Lobbying the prefects on their role in enforcing Law on decisional transparency in the administration||2009||40 perfects are informed on their role
|Promoting best practices to prefects||2009||At least 15 prefects start to challenge decisions taken without observing transparency requirements|
|The Law on decisional transparency is amended by introducing sanctions||Lobbying decision makers to promote APADOR-CH’s amendments to the Law on decisional transparency||2009-2011||The legal commissions of the Parliament support APADOR-CH’s amendments|
During the reporting period, APADOR-CH continued to implement a project aimed at lobbying the prefects to become more active in enforcing the Law on decisional transparency in the administration. The 14 NGOs previously trained replicated the lobbying effort in their respective counties (6 counties). In September 2009, the experience of all NGOs involved was summed up in a report on the role of the prefect in enforcing the Law on decisional transparency in the administration. The report was released in October 2009, and later distributed to all relevant institutions.
In the second semester of 2009 APADOR-CH secured funding for a project aimed at involving the youth organizations and the young people in using the transparency laws. The project started in December 2009.
- Objective 5: Improving reasoning and transparency of judicial decisions
|The judgements are subjected to public scrutiny||Lobbying with the Ministry of Justice and the Superior Council of Magistrates on fulfilling their obligations to launch the electronic system of publishing all court decisions||2009||The system is officially launched|
|Monitoring the courts on fulfilling their obligations to publish decision||2009-2011||All courts not publishing their decisions are identified|
|Round-tables with representatives of courts||2010-2011||At least one court per each Court of Appeal participates|
|Promoting best practices||2009-2011||At least 10% of the courts publish their decisions in the first year the system is implemented
The number of courts publishing their decisions increases with 10% of the courts each year
No specific activities were implemented during the reporting period.
- Objective 6: Eliminating unjustified state interference with the NGOs’ associational life
|The Law on associations and foundations is amended by eliminating abusive provisions on organizations’ allowed names||Monitoring the implementation of new problematic provisions on organizations’ names||2009-2010||A data-base with all identified cases is available on-line|
|Meetings with decision-makers||2009-2010||At least one MP successfully supports the amendment to the law in the Parliament|
|Strategic litigation||2009-2010||At least one case is brought before the ECHR|
|Promoting amendments to the Law||The amendments are debated in the Parliament|
|The requirement to obtain and file fiscal records by founding members/new members of an association is eliminated||Monitoring practices of courts||2009||At least 75% of courts provide information on their practices|
|Strategic litigation||2009-2010||At least one case is brought before domestic courts
At least one case is brought before the ECHR
|Round-table with judges and decision-makers||2009-2010||At least one MP successfully supports the amendment to the law in the Parliament|
|The procedure for donations is simplified in respect of NGOs||Monitoring practices of NGOs in receiving donations in Romania and in other 5 countries||2009-2010||At least 75 NGOs answer APADOR-CH’s questionnaire|
|Meetings with decision makers (Chamber of Notaries Public, Ministry of Justice, MPs) for identifying and promoting solutions in the form of a draft law||2009-2010||The Ministry of Justice successfully promotes the amendment of the law|
|Challenges in setting up and running an NGO in Romania are documented||Publishing a practical guide on setting up and running an NGO in Romania||2009-2010||At least 500 active NGOs receive/buy/ the guide or access it on-line|
APADOR-CH started to implement a project on identifying and removing legal and practical obstacles in exercising the freedom of associations via NGOs in November 2009. The main activities of the project shall be implemented in 2010.
As the initial financial support for the above activities was not received from CEE Trust, during the reporting period APADOR-CH concentrated on committing such support for a different donor. A proposal for a project aimed at the above results was drafted and submitted for the approval of EEA Grants Programme in Romania. An answer is expected for the fall of 2009.
- Objective 7: Reacting to human rights threats
|Draft laws/initiatives with negative impact on human rights are criticised||Monitoring the web-sites of central administrative bodies, with a special emphasis on the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Interior and Administrative Reform, the Parliament, plus the media||2009 – 2011||At least 75% of the draft laws/initiatives with negative impact on human rights are identified in due time|
|Drafting and submitting comments on draft laws with negative impact on human rights||2009 – 2011||Comments on all identified draft laws are submitted to the relevant decision-makers|
|Generating and participating in public debates over draft laws/initiatives with negative impact on human rights||2009 – 2011||Public debates are organized in respect to all important draft laws/initiatives with negative impact on human rights (where possible according to the law)|
|Issuing press releases||2009 – 2011||At least 6 press releases are issued each year|
|Human rights violations are documented||Monitoring the media||2009 – 2011||At least 2 media outlets are monitored on daily basis|
|Meetings with victims of human rights violations||2009 – 2011||Meetings with at least 50% of the identified victims|
|Addressing freedom of information requests to the authorities||2009 – 2011||All relevant authorities receive FOI requests in identified cases|
|Issuing reports on human rights violations||2009 – 2011||The relevant authorities receive reports in all documented cases|
|Public authorities violating human rights are held liable for their actions||Litigation in selected strategic cases||2009 – 2011||At least 2 cases per year are initiated|
In the second part of the year most reactions of APADOR-CH related to the new Codes (see under Objective #1 above).APADOR-CH continued to provide support to previous victims of police abuse, especially to Mr. Marinescu, who was ill-treated by the police in 2007 and started legal proceedings with the help of APADOR-CH’s lawyers. His case was still pending by the end of the reporting period.