72% of Romanians admit they are not well informed about their rights while 80% consider that in Romania their civil rights are being infringed upon. These are the results of the first national sociological study about the perception of Romanians on human rights, which shows a poor knowledge of human rights and of the national institutions meant to protect them. The study was released at the same time as the launch of the www.drepturicivile.ro portal, both activities being part of a project initiated this year by APADOR-CH, with the aim of increasing the awareness and knowledge level of the population about civil rights.
Although the political situation seemed stable after the 2014 elections, two tragic events have changed things in the last few months of 2015. One was the death of a police officer who was driving a motorcycle ahead of an official column of the Interior Ministry, in an accident caused by excessive speed and a hole in the asphalt which sparkled a very heated debate about the abusive use of official columns. The accident preceded a fire which broke out during a rock concert in a Bucharest nightclub, as a consequence of which 63 people died and dozens of others were severely injured. The causes of the tragedy were linked, in the first instance, to the lack of proper functioning authorizations of the club, but also to syncopes which occurred during the victim support procedure (the emergency situations system, the subsequent medical services which could not prevent the doubling, in a couple of weeks, of the number of initial deaths). Both events have coagulated the people’s dissatisfaction against the Interior Ministry, Gabriel Opera, who was asked to resign, at first in the social media, and after the Colectiv tragedy, during street manifestations.
The street manifestations lasted several days at the beginning of November 2015, being considered the largest of the last decade, gathering thousands of people on the streets of Bucharest and other cities in Romania. They led to the Ponta government resignation and the appointment of a new cabinet, composed of experts with no political affiliation (technocrat government). “Corruption kills” was the slogan on everybody’s lips those days, a corollary of the two tragedies, but also of the socio-economic situation of Romania.
APADOR-CH backed up the street messages and claims, at the same time helping citizens with useful information about the necessary democratic stances in situations of a governmental crisis.
From a legislative point of view, the „Big Brother laws” odyssey continued, stimulated by the international atmosphere at the beginning of the year, when, on the background of the Paris terrorist attacks, several countries tried to toughen legislation which provides for communication monitoring. In 2014 Romania, the Cybernetic Security Law, had already passed through Parliament, severely affecting private life by allowing discretionary access of secret services into the computers of all Romanians. In the first months of 2015 the law was declared unconstitutional, but the attempts to legislate in this filed have continued. APADOR-CH monitored the process and took steps to contest the unconstitutional provisions of these laws.
In 2015 the association continued implementing the projects already started in 2014 while also initiating new ones. One concerns the representation of civil society in collegial bodies (such as the National Integrity Council, the National Council for Combating Discrimination) while another has in view the efficiency improvement of the Romanian Ombudsman.
Monitoring police abuses was also an important part of the 2015 activity. Cases of police violence against citizens continued to appear, at the same time with the issuing by the ECHR of decisions condemning Romania for lack of effective punishment measures applied to people responsible for abuses committed in the previous years.
Internally, the organization had updated its strategy for the next 3 years and marked the celebration of 25 years of existence though a media campaign of awareness raising about the fact that human rights have to be always known and constantly claimed.
The present report emphasizes, in short, APADOR-CH’s most important projects and achievements in 2015, while also bringing updates on the multiannual programs which the association carries out in the already established fileds of expertise: monitoring the observance of human rights, legal advice and legislative advocacy. If you want to understand more about our current activity or simply wish to join the association as a volunteer or make donations, you can visit the www.apador.org website.
Executive Director APADOR-CH
2015 PROJECTS 6-8
Know and Claim your Rights 6
Civil society involved in making the National Council for Combating Discrimination more efficient 7
Citizen Rights Network-We need a real Ombusdman! 7
Eyes on police abuse 9
Trainings for lawyers 10
The Anti-Discrimination Coalition 10
Politics without barriers 10
Legal Advice & Representation 11
Cases won before the ECHR in 2015 11
Cases won before national courts 12
Legislative Advocacy 14
Useful Information 15
International Human Rights Day 17
Public Reactions 17
Video advocacy 19