Democracy and rights
Romania has functioning democratic machinery
and the civil liberties and rights are generally
respected but the system is clouded by corruption,
discrimination against minorities and deficiencies in
the media and the judiciary.
Free and fair elections are made at regular
intervals. As a rule, the authorities respect the
freedom of assembly and opinion. Romanians can freely
organize themselves in parties and other organizations
and express their views, for example through
Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Romania, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.
The right to strike is enshrined in the Constitution
(see Labor Market) as well as religious freedom and
protection of religious minorities (see Religion).
Nevertheless, Romania is ranked as a "democracy with
deficiencies" in The Economist's assessment of the
world's countries. The factors that lower Romania's
ratings include the extensive corruption and recent
legislation that adversely affects the independence of
the judiciary (see below).
The proportion of women who are politically active is
low for European conditions. However, after the last
parliamentary elections, the proportion of women in
parliament increased from 14 percent to 21 percent.
While the constitution guarantees that human rights
are respected, the EU and human rights organizations
have repeatedly criticized Romania for discriminating
against its minority people, especially the Roma. This
is done, among other things, because the Roma do not
have access to adequate education, good care and
acceptable housing. Violence and harassment against Roma
occur, both from the authorities and individuals (read
more under Social conditions).
The law prohibits all forms of discrimination on the
grounds of gender, but like most other countries,
Romania has a long way to go when it comes to gender
equality (read more about the rights of women, children
and sexual minorities in Social conditions).
Freedom of expression and media
The law guarantees freedom of the press and opinion
and the state does not conduct censorship. The media
landscape is mixed. There are a number of independent
media, but also media linked to parties or politicians
accused of spreading propaganda. Sometimes problems
arise for media who want to report freely and
critically. Political and economic pressures from local
politicians and businessmen, as well as pure threats,
exist, especially against regional media that have
written about corruption and other abuses of power.
Freedom of the press was previously limited by
provisions of the Criminal Code that could give prison
or high fines for insult, slander and news that were
considered to harm the country's honor and interests.
After several legal trips in the 2000s, the Supreme
Court (HD) in 2010 ruled that media slander was not
punishable. In 2013, however, the Constitutional Court
said that the HD decision violated the Constitution. As
a result, there was uncertainty among the country's
media workers about what they could write and say.
Reporters Without Borders classifies the situation of
the Romanian media as "acceptable". Together with the
Czech Republic, Romania ranks highest among Eastern
European countries in Reporters Without Borders latest
Press Freedom Index (see ranking list here).
The public has the right to demand certain
information from authorities, but it is not always that
the authorities comply with the law in this regard.
Corruption is a widespread problem and occurs at all
levels within the social apparatus, in the justice
system, the police and business. In Transparency
International's latest assessment, Romania ended up in
the bottom of the EU countries (see ranking list here).
Only Bulgaria got a worse position. However, other
neighboring countries such as Ukraine, Serbia and
Moldova were significantly lower down the list.
Since 2002, there is a special authority called
DNA (Direcția Națională Anticorupție)
which has the task of fighting corruption. DNA has been
countered from various angles, including by governments
and the parliament, but in the 2010s, a number of former
ministers and senior officials were convicted of bribery
and embezzlement. In 2015 alone, the anti-corruption
authority brought 1,250 prosecutions. Among the
defendants were five ministers, 21 MPs and the former
prime minister Victor Ponta. Nearly 500 executives for
companies or government were also prosecuted. The
prosecutor's office received 970 convictions.
Since the beginning of 2017, the government, led by
the Social Democratic PSD, has made a number of attempts
to change the judicial system with a view to mitigating
the punishment for corruption crimes and making
corruption investigations more difficult (see Current
policy). The reforms that aroused great resistance
within the country and were heavily criticized by the
outside world were interpreted as an attempt to prevent
party leader Liviu Dragnea, who was convicted of abuse
of power, from going to prison. When Dragnea's Dragnea
appeal was rejected and he was really jailed in the
summer of 2019, the government backed down and announced
that it was now releasing the reform plans.
Judicial system and legal security
Under the Constitution, the courts must be
independent of state power and everyone should have the
right to a fair trial. In many cases it works that way,
but it seems that judges and prosecutors are subjected
to pressure from politicians, businessmen and other
authorities. The judiciary is also plagued by a lack of
lawyers and other resources.
Anyone who is prosecuted and needs legal help can get
a representative paid by the state.
In connection with Romania's adaptation to the EU
ahead of the Union's entry into the Union in 2007, a
number of initiatives were taken to increase legal
certainty and the EU demanded anti-corruption measures
and measures against legal system deficiencies. Romania
and Bulgaria were subjected to a control system called
the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism.
This means that the countries have been given
the task of implementing a number of reforms and that
each year the EU assesses whether the countries have
achieved their goals or not.
The police force has been criticized for cases of
mistreatment and harassment of detainees and prisoners.
Deaths due to abuse have also been reported. The
country's Roma are particularly vulnerable and they
often appear in crime statistics. The Roma are also
over-represented in the country's prisons.
The death penalty was abolished in 1989. The last
execution was carried out that same year.
Crimes against humanity
Romania has only partially addressed the Communist
era's violation of citizens' rights. It was not until
1998 that persons who were members of or who cooperated
with the secret police, Securitate,
were prohibited from holding political assignments. In
1999, Securitate's archive began to be opened to the
public. In the same year, two generals, one of whom was
Deputy Minister of Defense, were sentenced to 15 years
in prison each for ten years previously ordering the
police to open fire against protesters the city of
Timişoara. The unrest in Timişoara became the prelude to
the rebellion that led to the fall of communism during
the Christmas holidays of 1989 (see Modern History).
In November 2016, a formal investigation of suspected
crimes against humanity began during the uprising, when
more than 1,100 people are estimated to have been
A month later, military prosecutors brought suits
before the Supreme Court against former President Ion
Iliescu, former Prime Minister Petre Roman and several
former senior officials for crimes against humanity.
They were accused of having committed a specific act of
violence against protesters in June 1990, when at least
four people were killed and over 700 injured in
Bucharest (see Modern History). In December 2018,
another charge was brought for crimes against humanity
against Iliescu: he was accused this time of having
misrepresented information at press conferences during
the 1989 uprising, resulting in chaotic firing and
conflicting military ordering.
A total of 275 people have been prosecuted for crimes
committed during the uprising but reportedly only a few
dozen have been convicted.