From about 200 B.C., when it was settled by the Dacians, a Thracian tribe, Romania has been on the path of a series of migrations and conquests. Under the emperor Trajan early in the second century A.D., Dacia was incorporated into the Roman Empire, but was abandoned by a declining Rome less than two centuries later. Romania disappeared from recorded history for hundreds of years, to reemerge in the medieval period as the Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia. Heavily taxed and badly administered under the Ottoman Empire, the two Principalities were unified under a single native prince in 1859, and had their full independence ratified in the 1878 Treaty of Berlin. A German prince, Carol of Hohenzollern, was crowned first King of Romania in 1881.
The new state, squeezed between the Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, and Russian empires, with Slav neighbors on three sides, looked to the West, particularly France, for its cultural, educational, and administrative models. Romania was an ally of the Entente and the U.S. in World War I, and was granted substantial territories with Romanian populations, notably Transylvania, Bessarabia, and Bukovina, after the war.
Most of Romania's pre-World War II governments maintained the forms, but not the substance, of a liberal constitutional monarchy. The quasi-mystical fascist Iron Guard movement, exploiting nationalism, fear of communism, and resentment of alleged foreign and Jewish domination of the economy, was a key factor in the creation of a dictatorship in 1938. In 1940-41, the authoritarian General Antonescu took control. Romania entered World War II on the side of the Axis Powers in June 1941, invading the Soviet Union to recover Bessarabia and Bukovina, which had been annexed in 1940.
In August 1944, a coup led by King Michael, with support from opposition politicians and the army, deposed the Antonescu dictatorship and put Romania's battered armies on the side of the Allies. Romania incurred additional heavy casualties fighting the Germans in Transylvania, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia.
The peace treaty, signed at Paris on February 10, 1947, confirmed the Soviet annexation of Bessarabia and northern Bukovina, but restored the part of northern Transylvania granted to Hungary in 1940 by Hitler. The treaty required massive war reparations by Romania to the Soviet Union, whose occupying forces left in 1958.
The Soviets pressed for inclusion of Romania's heretofore negligible Communist Party in the post-war government, while non-communist political leaders were steadily eliminated from political life. King Michael abdicated under pressure in December 1947, when the Romanian People's Republic was declared, and went into exile.
In the early 1960s, Romania's communist government began to assert some independence from the Soviet Union. Nicolae Ceausescu became head of the Communist Party in 1965 and head of state in 1967. Ceausescu's denunciation of the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and a brief relaxation in internal repression helped give him a positive image both at home and in the West. Seduced by Ceausescu's "independent" foreign policy, Western leaders were slow to turn against a regime that, by the late 1970s, had become increasingly harsh, arbitrary, and capricious. Rapid economic growth fueled by foreign credits gradually gave way to wrenching austerity and severe political repression.
After the collapse of communism in the rest of Eastern Europe in the late summer and fall of 1989, a mid-December protest in Timisoara against the forced relocation of a Hungarian minister grew into a country-wide protest against the Ceausescu regime, sweeping the dictator from power. Ceausescu and his wife were executed on December 25, 1989, after a cursory military trial. About 1,500 people were killed in confused street fighting. An impromptu governing coalition, the National Salvation Front (FSN), installed itself and proclaimed the restoration of democracy and freedom. The Communist Party was outlawed, and Ceausescu's most unpopular measures, such as bans on abortion and contraception, were repealed.
Ion Iliescu, a former Communist Party official demoted by Ceausescu in the 1970s, emerged as the leader of the NSF. Presidential and parliamentary elections were held on May 20, 1990. Running against representatives of the pre-war National Peasants' Party and National Liberal Party, Iliescu won 85% of the vote. The NSF captured two-thirds of the seats in Parliament, named a university professor, Petre Roman, as Prime Minister, and began cautious free market reforms.
The new government made a crucial early misstep. Unhappy at the continued political and economic influence of members of the Ceausescu-era elite, anti-communist protesters camped in University Square in April 1990. When miners from the Jiu Valley descended on Bucharest two months later and brutally dispersed the remaining "hooligans," President Iliescu expressed public thanks, thus convincing many that the government had sponsored the miners' actions. The miners also attacked the headquarters and houses of opposition leaders. The Roman government fell in late September 1991, when the miners returned to Bucharest to demand higher salaries and better living conditions. A technocrat, Theodor Stolojan, was appointed to head an interim government until new elections could be held.
Parliament drafted a new democratic constitution, approved by popular referendum in December 1991. The FSN split into two groups, led by Ion Iliescu (FDSN) and Petre Roman (FSN) in March 1992; Roman's party subsequently adopted the name Democratic Party (PD). National elections in September 1992 returned President Iliescu by a clear majority, and gave his party, the FDSN, a plurality. With parliamentary support from the nationalist PUNR and PRM parties, and the ex-communist PSM party, a technocratic government was formed in November 1992 under Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu, an economist. The FDSN became the Party of Social Democracy of Romania (PDSR) in July 1993. The Vacaroiu government ruled in coalition with three smaller parties, all of which abandoned the coalition by the time of the November 1996 elections. Emil Constantinescu of the Democratic Convention (CDR) electoral coalition defeated President Iliescu in the second round of voting by 9% and replaced him as chief of state. The PDSR won the largest number of seats in Parliament, but the constituent parties of the CDR joined the Democratic Party, the National Liberal Party, and the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (UDMR) to form a centrist coalition government, holding 60% of the seats in Parliament. Victor Ciorbea was named Prime Minister. Ciorba remained in office until March 1998, when he was replaced by Radu Vasile (PNTCD).
Today, Romania is a constitutional democracy with a multiparty, bicameral parliamentary system. Prime Minister Adrian Nastase is the Head of Government and President Ion Iliescu is the Head of State: they won elections in November and December 2000 that were judged to be generally free and fair. The judiciary is a separate branch of the Government; however, in practice the executive branch exercises influence over the judiciary.
There were few signs of widespread organized opposition to the Ceausescu regime in the late 1980s, but scattered and sporadic indications of social and political unrest were increasing. This opposition emanated from political and human rights activists, workers, religious believers, ethnic minority groups, and even former mid-level officials of the PCR. But the ubiquitous Securitate effectively suppressed dissidence because activists were few in number and isolated from one another and from their potential followers.
The Securitate had an effective overall strategy and varied tactics for suppressing dissidence. It relied primarily on extralegal reprisals against leading individual dissidents that ranged from petty harassment, threats, and intimidation to physical beatings at the hands of the plainclothes militia. Dissidents were often fired from their jobs and then prosecuted and imprisoned for "parasitism," even though they were frequently denied all opportunities to work. To isolate dissidents from one another and from Western diplomats and media representatives inside Romania who could bring them international attention, the state denied them residence permits that were required by law before they could live in major cities. The state either avoided prosecuting dissidents in open trials that would generate publicity for their causes or prosecuted them in secret trials before military courts.
Even if they avoided detention, some well-known dissidents had their telephone and mail service interrupted and were jailed without warning. Several lived under virtual house arrest and constant surveillance by plainclothes Securitate agents and the uniformed militia, who cordoned off their apartments and intimidated potential visitors. Dissidents were often vilified publicly in the media as traitors, imperialist spies, or servants of the ancien régime. When the cases of certain dissidents became known to international human rights organizations and the state was unable to act freely against them, the Securitate pressured these dissidents to emigrate by making their lives unbearable and granting them exit visas to leave the country. Once the dissidents were removed from the domestic political scene, the DIE acted against those who continued their criticism of the Ceausescu regime while in exile.
Romania's industrial workers became an important source of unrest and a potential threat to the Ceausescu regime and future PCR rule in the 1970s. During the 1980s, the labor force's restiveness continued, primarily in reaction to the virtual collapse of the national economy and the deteriorating standard of living. The regime's economic austerity policy and attendant food, fuel, and power shortages hurt the working class in particular. But Ceausescu weathered spontaneous, short-lived labor protests with the support of the security forces and police, who prevented the development of a sustained, independent workers' movement in Romania that would be comparable to Poland's Solidarity. Although they never failed to subdue protestors, the Securitate and police appeared to be strained under the burden of monitoring restive workers throughout Romania in the late 1980s.
Romania is a middle-income, developing country in transition from a centrally planned economy to a market economy. Its population is approximately 22.4 million. The private sector accounted for 64.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and employed 62.8 percent of the work force, primarily in agriculture, commerce, and services. Although privatization is under way, government ownership remains dominant in the industrial sector. During the year 2001, 183 firms were privatized. Approximately 1,200 firms are left in the State Privatization Fund's portfolio, including several of the country's largest firms. The GDP grew 1.6 percent during 2000, and estimated GDP growth during the year 2001 was 4.5 percent. Per capita GDP in 2000 was approximately $1,639. Exports increased 21 percent in 2000 and rose 16 percent in the first half of the year compared to the same period of 2000. Inflation decreased from 54.8 percent in 1999 to 40.7 percent in 2000 and was estimated at 32 percent for the year. Official statistics significantly understate economic activity because of the size of the informal economy.
Although officially atheistic, the state in 1989 recognized and financially supported sixteen different religious groups. These groups and the scope of their activity were controlled by the Department of Cults and were subject to strict regulations. Churches could not engage in any religious activity outside officially designated religious buildings. This restriction prohibited open-air services, community work, pilgrimages, and evangelization. Religious education for young people was expressly forbidden, and religious classes in general were prohibited. Severe restrictions limited the printing and import of bibles and other religious books and materials, and their distribution was treated as a criminal offense. The state recognized no religious holidays and often asked for "voluntary labor" on important holidays in an apparent effort to reduce church attendance and erode religious influence.
After 1984, under the guise of urban renewal, many churches of all denominations in and around Bucharest, including churches with unique spiritual and historical importance, were demolished by government orders. By 1988 approximately twenty-five had been razed, and sixty or seventy more were scheduled for destruction. Some of the buildings leveled were more than 300 years old, and many were classified as architectural monuments. Along with them, valuable icons and works of art were destroyed. Protests by congregation members, leading intellectuals, and Western governments failed to halt the demolition.
Romania introduced its new Penal Code in 1978. It was somewhat less draconian than the two previous penal codes promulgated during the early period of communist rule, in 1948 and 1968. The new code had a major impact on crime and punishment. It reduced the overall number of indictable offenses, introduced lighter sentences, and established a more flexible approach toward the treatment of offenders, juvenile offenders in particular. It mandated rehabilitation instead of prison sentences in many cases.
The greater emphasis on socialist legality, or the rule of law over adherence to the political dictates of the PCR evident in the 1978 penal code, did little to change the PCR's attitude toward the phenomenon of political crime. Although officials denied it, estimates indicated that as many as thirty prisoners remained incarcerated for political "crimes" after the government's January 1988 amnesty. Human rights groups reported that this estimate represented only a fraction of the total number of cases, as many more prisoners with political motivation had been convicted of common crimes or of attempting to leave the country illegally. Political prisoners were customarily tried and convicted in military courts. Articles 166 and 167 of the Penal Code were used to charge Romanian dissidents as criminals for calling on the regime to respect the civil and human rights outlined in the Constitution or for granting interviews to foreign reporters to discuss the regime's repressive nature. They could receive sentences of from five to fifteen years for disseminating "propaganda against the socialist order," for "any action aimed at changing the socialist order or from which a danger to the security of the state may result," or for "slandering the state."
Under the 1978 Penal Code, a system of release on bail for those accused of minor crimes was established. Previously bail was granted only to foreigners, who were required to post it in hard currency. First offenders were punished by disciplinary or administrative actions and court-ordered fines. Courts could order corrective labor under the supervision of a specific industrial or agricultural enterprise and mandate an automatic 15 to 20 percent reduction in the salary of an offender. For other misdemeanors, the courts could order an offender to be placed on probation under police (militia) supervision for up to five years. Minors between fourteen and twenty-one years of age were tried by a collective comprising the leaders of the school or enterprise where they studied or worked, UTC representatives, and a judge or other representative of the local procuratura. As a rule, convicted juveniles served a term of supervised labor in correctional homes called "special training institutes." Only minors with a prior record of offenses could be sentenced to a prison term, and they were supposed to be segregated from older inmates. The 1978 Penal Code reduced the number of offenses punishable by death from twenty-eight under the 1968 penal code to just a few serious crimes including first-degree murder, air piracy, treason, and espionage. It imposed a maximum sentence of twenty years in prison for all offenses. Misdemeanors were expunged from the 1978 Penal Code and formed into a separate Code on Minor Violations of the Law, leaving only felony offenses in the Penal Code.
Beginning in the 1970s, the Council of State announced an amnesty program approximately every other year. Generally, prisoners serving less than three years or with less than three years remaining on longer sentences were freed, and the sentences of prisoners serving more than three years were reduced. The government reportedly released 90 percent of those in prison or awaiting trial through an amnesty announced in January 1988. Amnesties may have been intended to alleviate chronic labor shortages or to clear prisons crowded by strict law enforcement.
INCIDENCE OF CRIME
The PCR asserted that the socioeconomic change wrought under communist rule reduced crime committed against individuals and property. According to the PCR, the socialist system eliminated the root cause of lawlessness--economic inequality--and therefore crime was disappearing. Articles in the Romanian press, however, indicated that crime remained a significant, if not growing, problem in 1989. The phenomenon of economic crime was the byproduct of Romania's inefficient, overly centralized economy. Unrealistic prices and exchange rates led to widespread corruption, shortages, a black market, speculation, and hoarding. Although the 1978 Penal Code abolished the use of capital punishment against those convicted of economic crimes such as embezzlement or fraud, it stipulated heavy fines and criminal penalties, including a twoyear prison term, for failure to conserve resources in socialist industrial and agricultural enterprises. In 1987 courts sentenced 300 citizens for economic crimes or the "illegal acquisition of wealth" and confiscated goods worth 47,000,000 lei (for value of the leu--see Glossary). There were indications that apprehension of economic "criminals" was difficult and that a prosecutorial backlog of such cases existed in 1989.
After the 1988 amnesty, the minister of justice reported that there were 7,500 citizens in prison. There had been 75,000 citizens in jail prior to the amnesty. Although Romania released few statistics on crime, press reports indicated that juvenile crime was a particular problem. In 1981 the UTC revealed that 25,000 youths under the age of twenty-one had been convicted of various offenses.
The crime rate in Romania is low compared to industrialized countries. An analysis was done using INTERPOL data for Romania. For purpose of comparison, data were drawn for the seven offenses used to compute the United States FBI's index of crime. Index offenses include murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft. The combined total of these offenses constitutes the Index used for trend calculation purposes. Romania will be compared with Japan (country with a low crime rate) and USA (country with a high crime rate). According to the INTERPOL data, for murder, the rate in 2000 was 7.44 per 100,000 population for Romania, 1.10 for Japan, and 5.51 for USA. For rape, the rate in 2000 was 8.34 for Romania, compared with 1.78 for Japan and 32.05 for USA. For robbery, the rate in 2000 was 30.3 for Romania, 4.08 for Japan, and 144.92 for USA. For aggravated assault, the rate in 2000 was 5.5 for Romania, 23.78 for Japan, and 323.62 for USA. For burglary, the rate in 2000 was 371.13 for Romania, 233.60 for Japan, and 728.42 for USA. The rate of larceny for 2000 was 595.3 for Romania, 1401.26 for Japan, and 2475.27 for USA. The rate for motor vehicle theft in 2000 was 31.61 for Romania, compared with 44.28 for Japan and 414.17 for USA. The rate for all index offenses combined was 1049.62 for Romania, compared with 1709.88 for Japan and 4123.97 for USA.
TRENDS IN CRIME
Between 1995 and 2000, according to INTERPOL data, the rate of murder increased from 6.44 to 7.44 per 100,000 population, an increase of 15.5%. The rate for rape increased from 6.44 to 8.34 , an increase of 29.5%. The rate of robbery increased from 18.26 to 30.3, an increase of 65.9%. The rate for aggravated assault increased from 5.47 to 5.5, an increase of 0.5%. The rate for burglary increased from 124.62 to 371.13, an increase of 197.8%. The rate of larceny increased from 379.2 to 595.3, an increase of 57%. The rate of motor vehicle theft increased from 11.81 to 31.61, an increase of 167.7%. The rate of total index offenses increased from 552.24 to 1049.62, an increase of 90.1%.
The PCR and the Ceausescu regime placed a far greater emphasis on order than on the rule of law. The Constitution of 1965 was superficially similar to the constitutions of Western democracies, but a tremendous gap existed between the rights stipulated in it and the human rights and civil liberties respected by the party and state. As a result, Romania earned the reputation as being the most repressive state in Eastern Europe. Although abuses were perpetrated by the Ministry of Interior and its Department of State Security, the Ministry of Justice and the judicial system were either unable or unwilling to prevent them.
The 1965 Constitution theoretically guaranteed equal rights for all citizens regardless of ethnic origin or religious belief (Article 17); freedom of association (Article 27); freedom of speech (Article 28); freedom of conscience and religious belief (Article 30); as well as the inviolability of the person (Article 31), the domicile (Article 32), and correspondence and communications (Article 33). However, the Constitution also stipulated that no citizen may exercise these rights when they conflict with the "socialist order" or serve aims "hostile to the interests of the Romanian working people." Because the PCR alone defined the interests of the working people, no Romanian was able to exercise his or her rights to challenge the rule of the PCR and Ceausescu. The rights of the citizenry were not inalienable; they were given by the party and as such could be taken away.
However, today, Romania is a former mixture of civil law system and communist legal theory; however, it is now based on the constitution of France's Fifth Republic.
The Ministry of Interior's Department of State Security (Departamentul Securitatii Statului, popularly known as the Securitate, see Glossary) was the PCR's secret political police. The Department of External Information (Departamentul de Informatii Externe--DIE) was the principal foreign intelligence service. These organizations were shrouded in secrecy, but an increasing number of defections from their ranks shed some light on their composition and activities. The Securitate and the DIE were responsible for guarding the internal and external security of the Ceausescu regime and suppressing any unrest, disturbance, or dissident group that criticized or challenged it. They succeeded in repressing most organized opposition to the regime. Yet spontaneous outbursts of discontent with Ceausescu's "cult of personality," economic austerity policy, treatment of ethnic minorities, antireligious campaign, and lack of respect for internationally recognized civil and human rights occurred with increasing frequency after the mid-1970s.
Given the deteriorating economic situation and the growth of social unrest in the 1980s, the loyalty of the security and intelligence services was critical to the political future of the Ceausescu clan. Observers believed that the services could play a decisive role in the outcome of a future leadership struggle between Ceausescu, his heirs, and other contenders for power. Despite their treatment as a privileged caste, Securitate and DIE personnel showed signs of dissatisfaction with the regime and the situation in the country during the late 1980s. Poor living conditions were so widespread that even these individuals were affected, creating the potential for sympathy with a largely discontented population.
The Ministry of Interior was the primary government organization responsible for maintaining order in Romania. It was one of only three ministries represented in the Defense Council, the highest governmental forum for considering national security issues. It controlled the Securitate, special security troops, and police throughout the country. The ministry's functions ranged widely from identifying and neutralizing foreign espionage and domestic political threats to the Ceausescu regime to supervising routine police work and local fire departments. The Ministry of Interior was organized into a number of directorates at the national level, and it controlled similar activities at the judet and municipal levels. There was a ministry inspectorate general in each judet as well as in Bucharest. The inspectorates general in the judete had subordinate offices in fifty major cities. They were accountable only to the first secretaries of the judet PCR committees and local people's councils as well as the ministry chain of command.
In prewar Romania, the Ministry of Internal Affairs (the precursor of the Ministry of Interior) closely supervised the activities of local governments and courts. The PCR gained control of the ministry in 1946 and filled its ranks with party activists, enabling the party to seize power the next year and consolidate communist rule during the following decade. One of the PCR's first actions was to increase the strength of the police from 2,000 to 20,000 officers who were loyal to the party. Little is known about the activities of the Ministry of Internal Affairs after the late 1940s except that it was tightly controlled by the PCR general secretary and directly served his interests. In 1972 a deputy minister of internal affairs, General Ion Serb, was arrested and executed for spying on behalf of the Soviet Union. Serb was allegedly recruited by the Soviet Committee for State Security (Komitet Gosudarstvennoi Bezopasnosti--KGB) early in his career during his training in Moscow. The Serb affair led to a purge within the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which was renamed the Ministry of Interior, and helped Ceausescu establish control over an important lever of power. In a bizarre 1982 affair, Ceausescu again purged the ministry, dismissing scores of officials who allegedly practiced transcendental meditation. Among those who lost their positions was a deputy minister of the interior, Major General Vasile Moise.
In 1989 the directorates of the Securitate were the largest component of the Ministry of Interior. They also comprised Eastern Europe's largest secret police establishment in proportion to total population. The Directorate for Investigations had agents and informants placed in virtually every echelon of the party and government, as well as among the public, to report on the antiregime activities and opinions of ordinary citizens. It perpetrated illegal entries into public offices and private homes and interrogated and arrested people opposed to Ceausescu's rule. Its agents frequently used force to make dissidents provide information on their compatriots and their activities. According to some prominent dissidents, because of the directorate's influence over judges and prosecutors, no dissident arrested by it had ever been acquitted in court. It worked closely with the Directorate for Surveillance and the Directorate for Mail Censorship. The latter monitored the correspondence of dissidents and ethnic Hungarians in Transylvania. Toward this end, it collected handwriting samples from the population and supervised the official registration of all typewriters and copying machines by the police.
The General Directorate for Technical Operations (Directia Generala de Tehnica Operativa--DGTO) was an integral part of the Securitate's activities. Established with the assistance of the KGB in the mid-1950s, the DGTO monitored all voice and electronic communications in the country. The DGTO intercepted all telephone, telegraph, and telex communications coming into and going out of the country. It secretly implanted microphones in public buildings and private residences to record ordinary conversations among citizens.
The Directorate for Counterespionage conducted surveillance against foreigners--Soviet nationals in particular--to monitor or impede their contacts with Romanians. It enforced a variety of restrictions preventing foreigners from residing with ordinary citizens, keeping them from gaining access to foreign embassy compounds and requesting asylum, and requiring them to report any contact with foreigners to the Securitate within twenty-four hours. Directorate IV was responsible for similar counterespionage functions within the armed forces, and its primary mission was identifying and neutralizing Soviet penetrations.
Directorate V and the Directorate for Internal Security focused mainly on party and government leadership cadres. Directorate V provided protective services and physical security for Romanian officials. With more than 1,000 agents, the Directorate for Internal Security concentrated on rooting out disloyalty to Ceausescu within the PCR hierarchy, the Council of Ministers, and the Securitate itself. It was a small-version Securitate in itself, with independent surveillance, mail censorship, and telephonemonitoring capabilities. An additional source of information on attitudes toward the regime within the Securitate was one of Ceausescu's relatives, who was a lieutenant general in the Ministry of Interior.
The Directorate for Penitentiaries operated Romania's prison system. In 1989 the prisons had a notorious reputation for mistreating inmates. Major prisons were located in Aiud in Alba judet, Jilava near Bucharest, Gherla in Cluj judet, Rahova, and Drobeta-Turnu Severin, and political prisoners were known to be confined in each of these institutions. Others may have been held in psychiatric hospitals. The Ministry of Interior's Service K exercised wide countersubversion authority in the prison system, beating dissidents, denying them medical attention, implanting microphones, censoring their mail to obtain incriminating evidence against them and their associates, and reportedly even administering lethal doses of toxic substances to political prisoners.
The Directorate for Militia and the Directorate for Security Troops controlled the routine police and paramilitary forces of the Ministry of Interior respectively. The police and security troops selected new recruits from the same annual pool of conscripts that the armed services used. The police performed routine law enforcement functions including traffic control and issuance of internal identification cards to citizens. Organized in the late 1940s to defend the new regime, in 1989 the security troops had 20,000 soldiers. They were an elite, specially trained paramilitary force organized like motorized rifle (infantry) units equipped with small arms, artillery, and armored personnel carriers, but their mission was considerably different.
The security troops were directly responsible through the Minister of the Interior to PCR General Secretary Ceausescu. They guarded important installations including PCR judet and central office buildings and radio and television stations. The Ceausescu regime presumably could call the security troops into action as a private army to defend itself against a military coup d'etat or other domestic challenges and to suppress antiregime riots, demonstrations, or strikes. To ensure their loyalty, security troops were subject to intense political indoctrination and had five times as many political officers in their ranks as in the armed services. They adhered to stricter discipline than in the regular military, but they were rewarded with a better standard of living.
The National Commission for Visas and Passports controlled travel abroad and emigration. In 1989 travel and emigration were privileges granted by the regime, not civil rights of citizens. As a rule, only trusted party or government officials could travel abroad and were required to report to the Securitate for debriefing upon their return. Prospective emigrants faced many bureaucratic obstacles and harassment at the hands of the Securitate.
Even the Securitate was unable to deter all Romanians from fleeing the country to escape its political repression and economic hardships. An estimated 40,000 Romanians entered Hungary as refugees during 1988 alone. Romanians who applied to emigrate legally were dismissed from their jobs and were unable to find work other than manual labor. They were questioned and had their residences searched and personal belongings seized or were called up for military duty or service in special labor brigades. There were no time deadlines for the government to make decisions on emigration applications and no right of appeal for negative decisions. Even with an exit visa, would-be emigrants confronted corrupt passport and customs officials demanding bribes amounting to US$3,000 to process necessary paperwork. The government received payment from West Germany and Israel in return for allowing ethnic German and Jewish Romanians to leave the country. Emigrants in these categories represented the vast majority of the 14,000 allowed to emigrate annually during the 1980s.
The Department of External Information (DIE) was Romania's primary foreign intelligence organization. It worked closely with the Ministry of Interior, the Securitate, and the general staff's Directorate for Military Intelligence (Directia de Informatii a Armatei--DIA). The defection of the DIE deputy director, Lieutenant General Ion Pacepa, in 1978 revealed considerable information on its activities abroad for the first time, precipitated a major purge of personnel from the DIE, and contributed to the cooling of relations between Romania and the United States in the 1980s.
The DIE was formed with Soviet assistance in the mid-1950s. Until the early 1960s, Romania sent its intelligence officers to attend a two-year KGB training course in espionage tradecraft near Moscow. In 1964 Romanian leader Gheorghiu-Dej curtailed DIE cooperation with the KGB and established a DIE training center in Brosteni, in Suceava judet.
The Directorate for Operations conducted clandestine intelligence collection and other activities outside Romania. Its officers operated under cover throughout the world, collecting political, economic, and technical intelligence for analysis by the Directorate for Foreign Intelligence. Brigade SD had 300 intelligence officers who were assigned primarily to Western countries to conduct technological espionage. It focused on acquiring military-related technology for use in the domestic arms industry and armed forces. According to Pacepa, however, Romania also transferred illegally obtained Western industrial, electronics, nuclear energy, and data-processing technology to the Soviet Union, under a secret bilateral agreement, in exchange for hard currency.
Within the Directorate for Operations, the Emigré Brigade had intelligence officers who contacted and worked among the 600,000 Romanian émigrés living in the United States, France, and West Germany. Playing on Romanian nationalism, they encouraged former Romanian citizens to cooperate with the DIE in obtaining Western high technology and engendering a favorable image of Romania abroad. The Emigré Brigade also monitored the activities of exiled dissidents who were vocal critics of the Ceausescu regime and attempted to assassinate selected émigrés in retaliation for their opposition to Ceausescu.
In 1982 a Romanian agent who was dispatched to kill dissident writers Paul Goma and Virgil Tanase in Paris defected to French authorities before undertaking his mission. This episode severely strained previously close French-Romanian relations. The DIE's primary target abroad, however, was the Munich-based staff of Radio Free Europe's (RFE) Romanian service, many of whom were Romanian émigrés. For many years, RFE's Romanian service had monitored internal developments in Romania and exposed the repressive nature of the Ceausescu regime. The beating and stabbing of several RFE staff members by unidentified assailants, several death threats, and the deaths from cancer of three successive directors of the Romanian service were attributed by some observers to DIE operations.
Also within the Directorate for Operations, Service D conducted covert operations, including the dissemination of forgeries and disinformation, to promote Romanian national interests and foreign policies. According to Pacepa, Service D's forgeries and disinformation were designed to influence Western countries to reward Romania for its independence of the Soviet Union with economic assistance and trading privileges and to generate political support among Third World countries. Service Z of the Directorate for Operations reportedly maintained ties to non-state entities including guerrilla movements, terrorist groups, and international organized crime.
The Directorate for Technical Equipment was responsible for designing or obtaining specialized espionage equipment required by the DIE. It was reportedly involved in equipping some Romanian trucks to conduct espionage operations in Western Europe. The DIE's National Center for Enciphered Communications had the mission of protecting Romanian government and party communications from Western and Soviet electronic monitoring. In 1989 the ministries of national defense, interior, foreign affairs, and foreign trade relied on the center's encryption systems in their daily operations at home and abroad.
Today, the National Police are primarily responsible for law enforcement, the Gendarmerie for preserving public order, and the Border Police for maintaining border security. The Ministry of the Interior supervises these organizations. Protection against external threats is the primary responsibility of the military. An internal intelligence service assesses threats to national security but has no law enforcement powers. All security and intelligence organizations operate under the authority of civilian leadership. Some police officers committed serious human rights abuses.
There were no reports of political killings; however, in three instances police used excessive lethal force which led to the deaths of citizens.
Under a 1994 law, police may shoot in order to stop persons who are fleeing from attempts to take them into custody. The law also allows the use of firearms against persons who have escaped detention or run away from an escort, and allows other law enforcement bodies to use force under similar circumstances.
The Constitution prohibits torture and inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment; however, there were credible reports that police beat detainees and used excessive force. Human rights organizations cited numerous reports of torture and mistreatment by police. On at least two occasions police beat detainees to death.
The law prohibits such actions; however, there were some restrictions. The Constitution provides for protection against the search of a residence without a warrant; however, this protection is subordinate to "national security or public order." The law defines national security very broadly and lists as threats not only crimes such as terrorism, treason, espionage, assassination, and armed insurrection but also totalitarian, racist, and anti-Semitic actions or attempts to change the existing national borders. Security officials may enter residences without proper authorization from a prosecutor if they deem a threat to national security to be "imminent;" however, such actions are rare.
The Constitution states that the privacy of legal means of communication is inviolable; thus, the Romanian Internal Intelligence Service (SRI) is prohibited legally from engaging in political acts (for example, wiretapping on behalf of the Government for political reasons). However, the law allows the security services to monitor communications on national security grounds after obtaining authorization. The law requires the SRI to obtain a warrant from the "public prosecutor specially appointed by the General Public Prosecutor" in order to carry out intelligence activities involving "threats to national security." It may engage legally in a wide variety of operations such as surveillance, requesting official documents or information, or consulting with technical experts, to determine if a situation meets the legal definition of a threat to national security, or to prevent a crime.
The law permits citizens access to secret police files kept by the Communist government. Under the law, any Romanian or foreign citizen who had Romanian citizenship after 1945 is entitled to have access to his file; a council approved by Parliament reviews the files and releases the information unless it was a state secret or could threaten national security. The files remain in the custody of the intelligence services. This law has been criticized for exempting files of current employees of the intelligence services from review and changing the definition of an informer to require actual payment.
The Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention; however, at times the authorities did not respect this right in practice. The law forbids the detention of anyone for more than 24 hours without an arrest warrant from a prosecutor, who may order detention for up to 30 days, and authorities generally respected this provision in practice. Detention can be extended past the 30-day limit only by a court ruling; however, courts and prosecutors often extend pretrial detention, to several years in some cases. Pretrial detention counts towards sentence time if a detainee is convicted. The use of pretrial detention decreased; one out of every three individuals in the prison system in 1995 was a pretrial detainee, compared with one in five in 2000. Detainees have the right to apply for bail, but in practice bail rarely is granted. Detainees may also ask for a hearing before a judge. Such a request must be granted within 24 hours.
Police often appear to take advantage of Article 16, Section b in the Police Organization Law 26 of 1994, which states that persons endangering the public, other persons, or social order and whose identity cannot be established, can be taken to a police station. Police often use this provision of the law to detain persons for up to 24 hours at a police station. Roma are disproportionately affected by this detention provision and often are viewed suspiciously by police. Roma often lack appropriate identity documents, which makes it easier for police to apply this article.
The law requires the authorities to inform those arrested of the charges against them and of their right to an attorney at all stages of the legal process. Police must notify defendants of this right in a language they understand before obtaining a statement; however, police often do not inform citizens of their rights. In addition the prosecutor's office may delay action on a request for a lawyer for up to 5 days from the date of arrest.
Under the law, minors detained by police and placed under guard in a center for the protection of minors are considered by judicial authorities to be in detention or under arrest if their age is more than 16, or, if between the ages of 14 and 16, if they have consciously committed a crime. However, since the Penal Code does not apply to minors in these centers until their cases are referred to a prosecutor, police are permitted to question them without restriction and may hold those suspected of criminal offenses for up to 30 days in such centers. This law appears to be in conflict with the Constitution, and local and international human rights groups have called on the Government to change it.
According to APADOR-CH, the Interior Ministry issued new instructions on detention in 1999 that provide for the confidentiality of discussions between detainees and their lawyers; this law was respected in practice.
The general organization and functioning of the judiciary was established by the Constitution and by the 1968 Law on the Organization of the Court System. Overall responsibility for the functioning of the courts was vested in the Ministry of Justice, and the prosecutor general was charged with the general application of the law and the conduct of criminal proceedings.
To fulfill its responsibility for the functioning of the courts and the supervision of state marshals, state notaries, and the national bar organization, the Ministry of Justice was divided into six directorates: civil courts, military courts, studies and legislation, personnel, administration, and planning and accounting. In addition, the ministry included a corps of inspectors, an office of legal affairs, and the State Notary Office.
The court system included the Supreme Court, judet courts, lower courts, military courts, and local judicial commissions. The Constitution placed the judiciary under the authority of the GNA, and between assembly sessions, under the authority of the State Council. The Supreme Court, seated in Bucharest, exercised general control over the judiciary activity of all lower courts.
Members of the Supreme Court were professional judges appointed by the GNA to four-year terms of office. The Supreme Court functioned as an appeals court for sentences passed in lower tribunals and, in certain matters specified by law, could act as a court of first instance. It could also issue guidance, in the form of directives, on legal and constitutional questions for the judicial actions of lower courts and the administrative functions of government agencies. The Supreme Court was divided into three sections--civil, criminal, and military. A panel of three judges presided over each section. The minister of justice presided over plenary sessions of the entire court held at least once every three months for the purpose of issuing guidance directives.
In 1989 there were forty judet courts and the municipal court of Bucharest, which had judet court status. Each court on this level was presided over by a panel of two judges and three lay jurors, known as people's assessors, and decisions were made by majority vote. People's assessors were first introduced in December 1947 and were given additional legal status in 1952 by the Law on the Organization of Justice. Most of the people's assessors were appointed by the PCR or by one of the district bodies of the mass organizations.
Subordinate to the judet courts were various lower courts. In the city of Bucharest, these lower courts consisted of four sectional courts, which functioned under the supervision of the municipal court. The number of lower courts and their territorial jurisdiction were established for the rest of the country by the Ministry of Justice. Panels consisting of a judge and two people's assessors presided over courts on this level, and verdicts were based on majority vote.
Military courts were established on a territorial basis, subdivisions being determined by the Council of Ministers. The lower military tribunals had original jurisdiction over contraventions of the law committed by members of the armed forces; the territorial military tribunals exercised appellate jurisdiction over decisions of the lower units. In certain situations specified by law, cases involving civilians could be assigned to military courts. At each level, the military courts, when acting in the first instance, consisted of two judges and three people's assessors. In appeals cases on the territorial level, the courts consisted of three judges only. As in the civil courts, decisions were reached by majority vote.
In 1968 the GNA enacted a law establishing a system of judicial commissions to function as courts of special jurisdiction in the state economic enterprises and in localities. These commissions were designed as "an expression of socialist democracy" to provide for the increased participation of working people in the settlement of problems involving minor local disputes and local economic issues.
The Office of the Prosecutor General ( Procuratura, see Glossary) exercised general supervision over the application of the law and the initiation of criminal proceedings. Elected by the GNA for a five-year term, the prosecutor general exercised supervisory powers that extended to all levels of society, from government ministers down to ordinary citizens. Procuratura subunits were hierarchically organized and included offices in each judicial district plus the prosecutor's military bureau.
The Ministry of Justice was responsible for the administration of justice and the maintenance of law and order. Under the Constitution, it was charged with defending the socialist order, protecting individual rights, and reeducating those who violate the country's laws, in that order of precedence. The Ministry of Justice exercised its authority through its main component, the Office of the Prosecutor General (Procuratura), which was established in 1952. The Procuratura operated the court system, decided jurisdictional questions, and compiled statistics on crime. It also oversaw the central criminology institute and forensic science laboratory.
Although the judicial system was theoretically independent, the PCR controlled it through its power to appoint judges and through the rules of party discipline. The judicial system took its orders directly from the Ministry of Interior and the security service. As a result, the government has never failed to win a conviction, according to Romanian dissidents. The GNA possessed formal authority to appoint the prosecutor general (attorney general) for a five-year term, and he was theoretically responsible only to it, or to the Council of State when the former was not in session. The prosecutor general represented the interests of the party and government in all legal disputes. He could petition the Supreme Court for interpretations of existing laws or propose changes in criminal statutes or new legislation to the GNA. He also appointed lower-level prosecutors in the judete. The Procuratura was supposed to investigate and resolve any charges that the Ministry of Interior or the security service had acted illegally or improperly. Yet the latter operated virtually unchecked in the late 1980s, following only directives issued by Ceausescu and the PCR. Below the national level, the Procuratura was organized in the forty judete, the municipality of Bucharest, and smaller localities. Its prosecutors had greater latitude to issue arrest warrants, review evidence, monitor investigations, arraign suspects, and file suits than did prosecutors in most legal systems.
The court system was organized at national, judet, and local levels. It operated for a long time under the 1947 Law on the Organization of the Judiciary, which placed many professional judicial functions in the hands of ordinary citizens, who were selected and instructed by the PCR. The 1947 law put two lay judges alongside one professional jurist on 16,000 local judicial commissions that heard cases involving labor disputes, civil complaints, family law, and minor crimes and violations of public order. A judicial reform implemented in 1978 established panels of between three and seven "popular" judges, recruited from the masses of workers and peasants, to serve as local working people's judicial councils for two-year terms. These judges were appointed by and responded to local PCR committees or people's councils, the UTC, official trade unions, and other PCR-controlled mass organizations.
Operating in small municipalities, towns, and large industrial and agricultural enterprises, working people's judicial councils played a significant role in dispensing justice. They handled up to 50 percent of all court cases. The management of a work unit investigated and presented the facts of a case, and a co-worker defended the accused. Unlike the larger municipal, judet, and military courts over which professional judges presided, working people's judicial councils could impose only light sentences short of prison terms. Nevertheless, whether filled by a professional or an ordinary citizen, the judge's bench in Romania was subject to virtually irresistible pressure to decide cases according to the PCR's political preferences.
The civilian prosecutor general appointed the military prosecutor with concurrence of the minister of national defense. The military Procuratura operated an extensive system of courts, which tried military personnel for violations of the military oath and regulations and held courts-martial for certain offenses. Military courts also exercised original jurisdiction over cases involving civilian offenses committed by those in the military services. More unusually, they heard cases of transgressions against the socialist order or the security of the state in both peacetime and wartime regardless of whether the accused was military or civilian. Cases brought before military courts were tried in closed session with even less concern for due process and the rights of the accused than was shown in civilian courtrooms. The use of secret proceedings reduced the chances of negative international publicity for the PCR and the Ceausescu regime that could result from open trials of alleged criminals.
Today, under the law, the judicial branch is independent of other government branches; however, it remains subject to influence by the executive branch. Although members of the Senior Council of Magistrates, which controls the selection, promotion, transfer, and sanctioning of judges, are appointed by Parliament from a list provided by the courts and prosecutorial offices represented on the council, the Justice Minister may avoid the appointment of unwanted members by simply keeping them off the agenda. The judicial system widely is regarded as weak, inefficient, and suffering from systemic corruption, although the Ministry of Justice is investigating and bringing prosecutions against corrupt judges and officers.
The law establishes a four-tier legal system, including appellate courts. Defendants have final recourse to the Supreme Court or, for constitutional matters, to the Constitutional Court. The judicial system divides the Prosecutor General's Office into 16 local offices (paralleling the appeals court structure) and establishes an office at the Supreme Court.
Judicial cases involving military personnel and the police are tried in military courts. Local and international human rights groups criticize this system, claiming that the military prosecutor's investigations are unnecessarily lengthy and often purposefully inconclusive.
The law provides for the right to a fair trial; however, the judiciary suffers from systemic corruption. Defendants are presumed innocent. The Penal Code requires that an attorney be appointed for a defendant who cannot afford legal representation or is otherwise unable to select counsel. In practice the local bar association provides attorneys to the indigent and is compensated by the Ministry of Justice. Either a plaintiff or a defendant may appeal. The law provides that confessions extracted as a result of police brutality may be withdrawn by the accused when brought before the court; the practice of extracting confessions through beating occurs occasionally. Due to a lack of a plea bargaining, the judicial system tends to be inefficient and slow. An average case takes 41/2 years before it is finished.
There were no reports of political prisoners.
Prison conditions are harsh; however, efforts to improve the prison system have led to some gradual but positive changes. The prison budget increased by $71 million over the 2000 budget. There are a total of 43 penal units (an increase from 41 in 2000), 34 prisons, 5 prison hospitals, and 3 juvenile detention facilities (an increase from 2 in 2000). Nevertheless in year 2001 overcrowding remained a serious problem, although it improved slightly from 2000. On January 9, 50,370 persons, including 800 minors (down from 1,571 in 2000--see Section 5), were in detention. The legal capacity of the system was 35,246. The law provides for alternative sentences for minor offenses. Specifically the law, which has been moderately successful, provides for community service instead of a prison sentence and is aimed at reducing the prison population. Men and women, adults and juveniles, and pretrial detainees and convicted criminals are housed separately in the prison system.
Human rights organizations continued to report that the abuse of prisoners by other prisoners and prison authorities was a problem. Prisons continued to use the "cell boss" system, in which some prisoners are designated to be in semiofficial charge of other prisoners in places where there were 10 or more prisoners in the same room. There were attempts to ameliorate this system by giving the inmates the right to select these "cell bosses" by vote, which has improved the situation slightly. Prison authorities introduced some vocational training programs to assist inmates' future integration into society, which also led to some improvement.
The Government permitted prison visits by human rights monitors; however, the Ministry has tightened conditions for prison visits. The new regulations, which are authorized by internal regulations that the Ministry does not release to the public, require that the visit be requested by a prisoner, and be announced 3 to 4 days in advance. Several domestic and international NGO's made such visits during the year 2001.
Violence against women, including rape, continued to be a serious problem. Both human and women's rights groups credibly reported that domestic violence is common, and a 1999 report by the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) emphasized that violence against women in the workplace is not uncommon since their subordinate position exposes them to greater risk. A survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported that in 2000, 23.4 percent of women had experienced verbal abuse from their partners, 10 percent had experienced physical abuse, and 1.8 percent sexual abuse. The same survey reported that 22.5 percent of women experienced moderate to severe physical abuse over their lifetimes. A complicated criminal process discouraged domestic violence victims from pressing charges against perpetrators. Police often are reluctant to intervene in instances of domestic violence. There is no specific legislation dealing with spousal abuse or spousal rape. The prosecution of rape is difficult because it requires both a medical certificate and a witness, and a rapist can avoid punishment if he marries the victim. The successful prosecution of spousal rape is almost impossible. An emergency ordinance passed in June made laws on rape and sexual abuse gender neutral. The Senate and the Chamber of Deputies passed this ordinance during the year 2001, but they had not reconciled their versions by year's end 2001.
A pilot project opened a shelter for victims of domestic violence in Constanta in December 2000. The shelter opened with the cooperation of the police and the Constanta mayor's office and helped in 246 cases from January to November.
Trafficking in women for the purpose of prostitution continued to be a growing problem.
Living conditions in all child care institutions very seriously deteriorated in 1999 for financial and administrative reasons and have not improved substantially. Inspectors who visited institutions and identified humanitarian needs at the request of the European Union Commission reported that while conditions were not equally poor in all institutions, the general situation was unacceptable in terms of basic infrastructure as well as hygiene, medical care, nutrition, and general assistance. According to official statistics, there were approximately 60,000 orphans in state institutions.
There was no perceptible societal pattern of abuse against children; however, a survey by a local polling firm conducted during the year 2001 found that 41 percent of women and 59 percent of men reported that they had experienced physical or verbal abuse as children. In addition large numbers of impoverished and apparently homeless, but not necessarily orphaned, children were seen on the streets of the larger cities. The Government does not have statistics defining the scope of the problem.
NGO's working with children remained particularly concerned about the number of minors detained in jail and prison. These NGO's continued to seek alternative solutions to sending juveniles to prison, such as parole. Because time served while awaiting trial counts as part of the prison sentence but does not count towards the time to be served in a juvenile detention center, some minors actually requested prison sentences.
The prevalence of child labor in the Roma community was widespread.
The sexual exploitation of children continued to attract press attention, and the police continued to stage a few high-publicity arrests of foreign pedophiles. Other issues, such as adequate legislation to protect children, received less attention. The law does not outlaw pedophilia expressly; instead pedophiles are charged with rape, corporal harm, and sexual corruption. Trafficking in girls for the purpose of prostitution is a problem.
TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS
A law passed in November prohibits trafficking; however, trafficking in women is an underreported but serious problem. The law defines trafficking as the use of coercion to recruit, transport, harbor, or receive humans for exploitation. Coercion includes fraud or misrepresentation. Exploitation includes slavery, forced labor, prostitution, performance in pornographic films, organ theft, or other conditions that violate human rights. For minors under the age of 18, it is not necessary to prove coercion.
Romania is both a country of origin and a transit country for trafficked women and girls. The full extent of the problem is not known, since neither the Government nor NGO's maintain statistics on this problem; however, there is evidence that the problem is growing. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported that from January 2000 to June 2001, they assisted 279 victims of trafficking. Of these victims, 6 were 14 years of age or younger, and 57 were between the ages of 15 and 17. Figures for 1999 were less than 10 victims. The IOM office in the country estimated that as many as 20,000 women are trafficked from Romania each year. Romania is a country of origin; women reportedly were trafficked for prostitution to Yugoslavia (including Kosovo), Macedonia, Turkey, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, France, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, and Cambodia. Women were trafficked through Macedonia and Bulgaria to reach Greece and other countries. Romania remains a popular transit country for persons, especially women, being trafficked from Moldova, Ukraine, and other parts of the former Soviet Union. Iasi and Timisoara are major transit centers in the country. Trafficking patterns within the country generally go from its border with Moldova to the countries bordering Serbia, and there is anecdotal evidence of some internal victims of trafficking as well. There also is anecdotal evidence that the country is a minor destination country. Victims are primarily women and girls trafficked for prostitution; however, there are reports that men also are trafficked to Greece for agricultural labor.
Women often are recruited to work abroad by friends, relatives, or newspaper advertisements. Many times a friend or relative makes the initial offer, usually telling the victim that she will obtain a job such as babysitting or waitressing. According to the IOM, most women were unaware that they would be forced into prostitution. A minority of trafficked women are sold into prostitution by their parents or husbands or are kidnaped by trafficking rings. Ministry of Interior officials reported that trafficking rings appear to be operated primarily by Romanians; several domestic prostitution rings are active.
No separate Government or IOM statistics exist for children trafficked to other countries. The Romanian NGO Sanse Egale Pentru Femei (Equal Opportunities for Women) reported that cases of trafficking in children that it dealt with rose from 8 in 1997 to 43 in 1999. In 1998 the NGO Save the Children dealt with 101 cases of children, mostly Roma, being taken to Germany and Italy and being forced to work as beggars or petty thieves; however, there were no new reports of the problem available during the year 2001. Trafficking of girls for prostitution is also a problem. The country has an extensive system of orphanages with approximately 60,000 dependents, and many orphanages are complicit in letting girls escape into prostitution. Children forced out of orphanages between the ages of 16 and 18 often have no identity documents, very little education, and few, if any job skills. NGO's believe that many girls from these orphanages fall victim to trafficking networks. A study by the IOM's Romania office found that 38 percent of girls between 15 and 18 years of age in orphanages were ready to "emigrate to a foreign job," putting them at risk of being trafficked. The same study found that 38 percent of single women and girls aged 15 to 25 and 20 percent of women and girls who lived with their parents were ready to emigrate to a foreign job.
While the Government is beginning to recognize trafficking as a problem, it has only begun to mount an effective effort to combat it. Corruption in the police force, particularly in local forces, also may contribute to the problem. Due to personnel changes within the police and training, police largely acknowledged that Romania is a country of origin for trafficked victims and have become more aware of the problem.
In late 2000, the Government promised that a dedicated unit of seven officers would be established to combat human trafficking as part of an effort to lead a regional antitrafficking law enforcement program under the Southeastern European Cooperative Initiative. However, only two officers from the Romanian Police had been assigned to this unit by April. In April the Government assigned a senior police general to coordinate the antitrafficking unit, significantly increased personnel assigned to the unit, and began to expand interagency and local resources assigned to human trafficking. The unit had conducted a series of human trafficking arrests by the end of the year. During the year 2001, the unit arrested 77 human traffickers for pimping and kidnaping offenses and continued to investigate another 90 individuals suspected of human trafficking at year's end 2001. Police also began a comprehensive investigation of agencies that advertised jobs abroad for possible human trafficking connections and exposed one ring of traffickers.
At the beginning of the year, only one prosecutor was assigned, on a part-time basis, to the Human Trafficking Task Force to carry arrests through to prosecution and conviction. In November another prosecutor was assigned to assist the task force. A handful of prosecutions have occurred for pimping offenses; prosecutions based on indictments under the new trafficking law are not scheduled to begin until 2002.
The law passed in November provides for sentences for traffickers of 3 to 12 years imprisonment. Trafficking in minors between 15 and 18 years of age also carries sentences of 3 to 12 years. Sentences are increased to 5 to 15 years for trafficking in minors under age 15, if there are two or more victims, or if a victim suffers serious bodily harm or health problems. The sentence for trafficking that leads to the death or suicide of the victim is 5 to 25 years. There are increased penalties of 3 years if the trafficker is a member of an organized crime group and 2 years in the case of minors if the trafficker uses coercion. Consent of a trafficked person does not exempt the trafficker from liability.
In the past, victims returned to Romania have been prosecuted for the crime of leaving the country illegally, which has reduced their willingness to return to the country or to cooperate with law enforcement authorities. For most of the year, because there was no legislation that directly addressed trafficking, victims had no way to press charges against traffickers. The law passed in November empowers the Ministry of the Interior to provide protection for victims of trafficking, and undercover operations and electronic surveillance are authorized against traffickers. The new law also eliminates criminal penalties for prostitution if the victim turns in traffickers, or cooperates in investigations against traffickers. However, trafficking victims who cooperated with authorities nonetheless were sentenced for crimes such as illegal emigration. The Government provided little aid to repatriated victims. In October the Government opened a short-term shelter for victims in Bucharest in cooperation with IOM and an NGO. The Ministry of Interior provides law enforcement personnel to investigate trafficking. The Border Police, who report to the Ministry of Interior, process repatriated victims when they return from abroad. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides documentation for victim repatriation.
A very small number of local NGO's dealt with trafficking issues. There are two shelters for victims of sexual abuse, and besides the Bucharest center, there is another shelter for trafficking victims in Pitesti. A very small number of other shelters operate in Transylvania. Some NGO's stated that fear of reprisal from organized crime groups deters them from taking aggressive action against traffickers. NGO's have had some success in providing training for and working with local police forces on trafficking. Nevertheless awareness of human trafficking is low, and while victims are not treated as criminals, they are seen as social outcasts. However, numerous media stories have begun to report on the problem, and during the year 2001, the IOM started a campaign to increase awareness of the problem with the public, using plays in summer camps for children, leaflets and brochures, and press conferences for local media.
Romania is not a major producer or consumer of narcotics; however, it is used as a transit country for illicit drugs destined for Western Europe. Romania is taking steps to enact legislation to better deal with the narcotics problem but lack of resources is an ongoing problem that hampers Romania's anti-drug efforts. Legislation regarding narcotics, money laundering, and corruption are currently pending, but was not enacted in 1998. U.S. drug enforcement training was provided to Romanian police officers and prosecutors. Romania is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
Romania is located on the "northern Balkan Route," along which drugs move from the southeast into Romania and then on to Western Europe. Romania's relatively open borders, as well as hostilities in other Balkan countries, make Romania attractive as a transit country. Drugs enter Romania via land, sea, and air. It is estimated that ten percent of the drugs that enter Romania remain in country for local distribution. The rest immediately continue on to Western Europe, or are held in "depots" for later movement to Western Europe. Drug seizures in 1998 indicate an increase in the amount of heroin moving through Romania.
Narcotics cultivation and production have traditionally not been a problem in Romania. However, the country is beginning to see a small amount of cannabis cultivation and amphetamine production. Nonetheless, actual narcotics sales and consumption remain relatively low, due at least in part to the country's poor economic conditions which make drugs simply too expensive for the local population.
A handful of demand reduction programs were undertaken in 1998. These efforts included anti-drug educational manuals for use in high schools and sports-related, anti-drug activities targeted at the country's youth.
While the Romanian criminal code addresses corruption-related activities, such as bribery, these laws are insufficiently enforced. A new anti-corruption bill is up for debate in the Romanian Senate. This law is designed to help clarify and expand what activities are illegal. The law would also expand the penalties for corruption-related offenses. The true test of this, or any new anti-corruption legislation, will be the effort the Romanian Government puts behind actual enforcement. In the first half of 1998, there were 332 corruption-related convictions, down from 348 in the first half of 1997.