Corruption remained a problem, according to World Bank indicators. Bribery remained common in the public sector. Laws were not always implemented effectively, and officials, including judges, sometimes engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. Immunity from criminal prosecution held by existing and former cabinet members who were also members of parliament sometimes blocked investigations, reads the Romania 2017 Human Rights Report released by the U.S. Department of State.
The law provides criminal sanctions against officials for corruption deeds, but despite the numerous criminal trials, the corruption practices remained widespread. There were numerous corruption cases at governmental level during the year. Corruption remained a problem, according t the World Bank indicators. Bribery remained a common practice in the public sector. Laws weren’t always implemented effectively and officials, including judges, were engaged sometimes in corrupt practices with impunity. Immunity from criminal prosecution held by existing and former cabinet members who were also members of parliament sometimes blocked investigations, reads the Romania 2017 Human Rights Report released by the U.S. Department of State.
Regarding corruption, the document reminds that the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) continued to investigate and prosecute numerous corruption cases involving political, judicial, and administrative officials at a steady pace throughout the year. It is mentioned the case of the PSD MP Ion Munteanu indicted in May for trafficking in influence and money laundering for having received more than 400,000 euros ($480,000).
The report also mentions that as of August 31, the DNA had sent to trial 209 cases involving 573 defendants, including a minister, two members of parliament, a deputy minister, a judge, a prosecutor, 12 mayors, and 16 police officers. “Verdicts in corruption cases were often inconsistent, with sentences varying widely for similar offenses. Enforcement of court procedures lagged mostly due to procedural and administrative problems, especially with respect to asset forfeiture”.
The report also mentions the corruption in the field of public procurements and claims the fact that the governmental actions in this field weren’t significant.
Until August 31, the Parliament rejected the request for removing immunity in order to allow investigations that involve a current and a former minister, the document reminds.
The judiciary took measures of criminal prosecution and sanctioning of the officials who committed abuse, but the authorities delayed the proceedings involving alleged abuses of the Police; as a result, many of these cases ended with acquittal. Police was frequently exonerated in cases related to beating and other cruel, inhuman or degradant treatment. Police corruption has contributed to the citizens’ lack of respect towards police officers and to ignoring their authority, the report also stresses.
As for the freedom of expression, it is reminded that during a February press conference, Internal Affairs Minister Carmen Dan accused by name several prominent journalists of supporting antigovernment street protests. She also criticized the Facebook group Corruption Kills (Coruptia Ucide) for calling on persons to protest against the government. Journalists and NGOs characterized her statements as contrary to freedom of expression and termed the issuing of such public “black lists” an act of intimidation. The Association for Technology and Internet called Dan’s comments “a threat against those who use social media channels for communication.”
The document also mentions the Mayor of Bucharest Gabriela Firea, for her criminal complaint for harassment submitted against a website writing about the activity of the municipality and about the public expenses. It is also mentioned that the Mayor has repeatedly refused the access of the press and NGOs to the meetings of the Bucharest General Council (CGMB).
In the same chapter, it is mentioned that on December 11, during antigovernment protests against corruption, police declared they had begun criminal investigations against several persons who posted calls for protests on Facebook, claiming they incited breaches of public order and peace due to the language used in the postings. Such crimes are punishable by imprisonment ranging from three months to three years or a criminal fine.
U.S. Department of State also reminds that two major private broadcasters, Antena 3 and Romania Television, were controlled by businessmen who were vocal supporters of the government. Both outlets gave strongly critical and factually inaccurate coverage of the January antigovernment protests.
Besides, the document mentions that politicians or persons very close to politicians indirectly own or control many media institutions at national and local level, their news and orientation frequently reflecting the owners’ opinions.
Regarding prisons, the report mentions the overcrowding and the conditions that are not meeting the international standards, while abuses against detainees continue to be a problem.