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The honouring of membership obligations to the Council of Europe by Romania

Doc. 15617: compendium of written amendments | Doc. 15617 | 13/10/2022 | Final version

Caption: AdoptedRejectedWithdrawnNo electronic votes

ADraft Resolution

1Romania joined the Council of Europe in 1993. Upon accession, it entered into a number of commitments which were subject to monitoring by the Parliamentary Assembly until 1997 and then to post-monitoring dialogue between 2000 and 2002. Romania is a party to a number of core Council of Europe Conventions including the European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 5); the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (ETS No. 157); the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman Treatment or Punishment (ETS No. 126); the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption (ETS No. 173); the Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on Financing of Terrorism (CETS No. 198), the European Social Charter (ETS No. 163) and it is subject to monitoring mechanisms attached to these legal instruments. In 2019, Romania was selected by the Monitoring Committee for a periodic review report on its compliance with the obligations imposed on every Council of Europe member State in the field of democracy, rule of law and human rights. Periodic monitoring reports are prepared, over time, on all member States which are not subject to specific monitoring procedures.
2Since its accession to the Council of Europe, Romania has made important progress with regard to the functioning of democratic institutions and respect for human rights. The irreversibility and sustainability of this progress was put into question by the developments of 2017-2019, particularly in the areas of the judiciary and the fight against corruption. However, the Assembly notes with satisfaction that this reversal has been successfully overcome and Romania has returned to the path of reforms.
3The Assembly commends the Romanian authorities for demonstrating political will and commitment to fully respect their obligation to comply with democratic standards, as confirmed by their continued co-operation with Council of Europe monitoring mechanisms and the Assembly’s Monitoring Committee in the framework of the periodic monitoring review.
4The Assembly appreciates the ongoing structural reforms of the Romanian judicial system aimed at addressing a number of concerns formulated, inter alia, by the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) and the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO). The Strategy for the Development of the Judiciary for 2022-2025 adopted by the government on 30 March 2022 sets clear objectives in this respect and is accompanied by a monitoring mechanism.
5In terms of judicial independence, the dismantling of the Section for Investigating Criminal Offences within the Judiciary on 11 March 2022 marked an important step, and should be commended. However, some concerns related to the new system for investigation and prosecution of criminal offences within the judiciary still need to be addressed. While the competence to investigate offences committed by magistrates has now been transferred to designated prosecutors within the Prosecutor’s Offices attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice and the courts of appeal, it is expected that sufficient resources will be allocated to the investigations of complex corruption cases in order to ensure the efficiency of the new system.

In the draft resolution, paragraph 5, in the second sentence, replace the word "concerns" with the following word:


In the draft resolution, paragraph 5, in the second sentence, replace the words "to be addressed" with the following words:

"to be clarified."

6Furthermore, safeguards must be established to ensure judicial independence and prevent any risk of politicisation. These include the procedure for the appointment of designated prosecutors which needs to ensure their integrity, competence and impartiality. At the same time the Assembly welcomes the efforts within the judiciary to combat corruption and in particular the adoption by the Superior Council of Magistracy of the Integrity Plan.
7Concerning the three justice laws, namely on the Status of Magistrates, on the Organisation of the Judiciary and on the Superior Council of Magistracy, which were submitted to the parliament, the Assembly takes note of the setting up by the parliament of the Joint Parliamentary Committee for the examination of laws in the field of justice and invites the authorities to follow the recommendations formulated by the Venice Commission and GRECO, in particular with regard to the civil and disciplinary liability of magistrates, competitions for admissions in the judiciary and rules on the status as well as appointment and removal of specialised and high-ranking prosecutors.
8Regarding the fight against corruption, the Assembly welcomes the adoption by the government, in December 2021, of the Anti-Corruption Strategy for 2021-2025 and it notes with satisfaction the increased effectiveness of the investigation and sanctioning of medium and high-level corruption. In particular, the National Anti-Corruption Directorate should be commended for continuing the positive trend in terms of the number of indictments and the reduction of the backlog of cases despite insufficient human resources, which is the consequence of very strict criteria for prosecutors’ appointments and in particular dissuasive seniority requirements. Furthermore, it should be noted that the value of assets confiscated by the National Agency for the Management of Seized Assets increased considerably over the last year.

In the draft resolution, paragraph 8, second sentence, delete the following words:

"and in particular dissuasive seniority requirements."

9The Assembly notes that amendments to the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code aimed at bringing both laws into line with the Constitutional Court’s decisions with regard, inter alia, to corruption related crimes, abuse of office and supervision methods, are under preparation. The Assembly hopes that they will be submitted to the parliamentary procedure without undue delay.
10The Assembly notes with concern that Romania is among the States with the largest number of unexecuted judgments of the European Court of Human Rights; this number increased in 2021 to 409 compared to 347 in 2020. Some cases reveal the existence of structural dysfunctions and should be addressed as a matter of priority.
11The situation concerning media freedom and pluralism needs to be strengthened. In particular, the use of public funds by political parties to finance media and influence their content on the basis of secret contracts is of utmost concern. It potentially undermines the principle of free media and the proper functioning of democratic institutions. Emblematic cases of threats, instances of harassment and violence against critical journalists, reveal serious problems concerning freedom of expression.
12The Assembly notes with satisfaction the overall progress accomplished by Romania with regard to protection and respect for human rights. In particular, it welcomes the recent adoption of the amendment to Article 369 of the Criminal Code, extending the grounds for hate speech and hate crimes in line with Council of Europe standards. The Assembly also commends the Romanian Parliament for having revised its Rules of Procedure in June 2022 allowing for more efficient prosecution of hate speech among politicians.
13The Assembly commends Romania for its commitment to protect the rights of persons belonging to national minorities. According to the reports of the monitoring mechanism of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, Romania can be considered as an example of good European practices in this area. There are clear improvements, as provided by Article 195 of the Administrative Code adopted in 2019, especially for the localities with more than 20% of population belonging to a national minority, with regard to the right to use their mother tongue in the relations with the local authorities, and the obligation of the respective authorities to provide the citizens with, inter alia, bilingual forms, public information and bilingual inscriptions. Some difficulties still exist, particularly with regard to the financial and administrative obstacles to the implementation of these provisions of the Administrative Code. There are also some concerns that some amendments introduced into the Administrative Code may limit minority language rights in small communities.

In the draft resolution, paragraph 13, replace the last two sentences with the following sentences:

"However, several concerns exist, especially with regard to administrative and financial obstacles to the implementation of minority rights. These concerns relate to language use in public administration for official purposes, the use of symbols and cultural autonomy. In this respect, the amendments introduced to the Administrative Code in 2019 can be more restrictive and may limit minority language rights in some communities."

14However, regarding the Roma minority, the Assembly notes with concern that a number of programmes, strategies and action plans have not had the expected impact on the inclusion of Romanian citizens belonging to this minority and that Roma continue to occupy the most disadvantaged position in the labour market; despite sustained efforts of governmental and non-governmental stakeholders meant to improve their living standards, the material situation of Roma is well below average in the country; they are also affected by shortages in social housing.
15Since the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation on 24 February 2022, Romania has been confronted with large waves of refugees from that country.Over 2,25 million Ukrainians have fled to Romania to date. While the majority transited the country, about 81 000 decided to stay. Romania is to be commended on its swift reaction and its assistance to a large number of people in need of international protection.
16In consequence, the Assembly calls on the Romanian authorities:
17in the field of the judiciary, to:
17.1continue the ongoing reform respecting the deadlines established by the Strategy for the Development of the Judiciary for 2022-2025;
17.2take into account the recommendations and to address the concerns formulated by the Venice Commission and GRECO in the preparation of draft justice laws to be submitted to the parliament in Autumn 2022;

In the draft resolution, paragraph 17.2, delete the following words:

"to be submitted to the parliament in Autumn 2022;"

17.3ensure inclusiveness in the legislative process; to carry out meaningful consultations with all stakeholders and to try to accommodate different opinions;
17.4introduce proper safeguards into the new system of investigation and prosecution of criminal offences in the judiciary, following the dismantling of the Section for Investigating Criminal Offences within the Judiciary, with a view to guaranteeing judicial independence;

In the draft resolution, paragraph 17.4, replace the word "introduce" with the following word:


17.5continue the implementation of already adopted measures aimed at increasing the efficiency and quality of the justice system, including increasing the recruitment of magistrates, redistributing the courts’ workload and increasing the digitalisation of the justice system;
18in the field of the fight against corruption, to:
18.1pursue implementation of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy and ensure determined political support for its effectiveness;
18.2amend the Codes of Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure in line with the decisions of the Constitutional Court and the recommendations of the Venice Commission in respect of deadlines established by the National Anti-Corruption Strategy;
18.3address effectively the issue of human resources shortages within the National Anti-Corruption Directorate;
19in the field of the execution of judgements of the European Court of Human Rights, to:
19.1step up efforts to implement the Court’s judgments, in particular those concerning nine principal cases subject to the Committee of Ministers’ enhanced supervision procedure, and over 300 repetitive cases;
19.2consider exploring the feasibility of organising training sessions in co-operation with the Council of Europe on the implementation of the Court`s rulings;
19.3consider exploring the feasibility of organising training sessions in co-operation with the Parliamentary Assembly Co-operation Unit on legislative follow-up to the Court’s decisions;
20in the field of media, to:
20.1ensure proper implementation of the existing legislation on access to information;
20.2ensure full independence of the National Audiovisual Council by establishing clear professional criteria for the selection of its members and to ensure adequate budgetary resources;
20.3ensure full transparency of media ownership;
20.4ensure specific safeguards for editorial independence and to introduce legal requirements to disclose secret contracts between political parties and the media on the basis of which public funds are transferred to the latter;
20.5ensure proper investigation and punishment of perpetrators in cases of harassment or intimidation of journalists;
21in the field of minorities and vulnerable groups, to:
21.1condemn without reservation, investigate and prosecute any discriminatory remarks and behaviour, and to eliminate hate speech from public discourse;
21.2continue efforts aimed at better integration of Romanian citizens belonging to the Roma minority.
22In conclusion, the Assembly recognises that Romania has made substantial progress towards its compliance with Council of Europe standards in areas crucial for the functioning of democratic institutions, in particular the judiciary and the fight against corruption. However, the question of sustainability and irreversibility of the reforms as well as of the effectiveness of the reforms will have to be confirmed by the proper implementation of legislation.
23Against this background, the Assembly invites its Monitoring Committee to continue following the developments in the country in the framework of a future periodic review, and to report back to the Assembly if developments so warrant.