August 10 was a watershed moment for the Romanian Gendarmerie, according to the head of the law enforcement organisation, Ionut Sindile, who says a measure that can be taken after that moment would be to better inform people about the steps the Gendarmerie follows in a crackdown.
“August 10 was a watershed moment for the Romanian Gendarmerie. It was the moment when we had to readjust and think about adjusting ourselves to resources, availability, formations for the enforcement of law in its letter and spirit,” Sindile said Monday at a press conference where he released the 2018 activity report of the Romanian Gendarmerie.
About the controversial crackdown of August 10, 2018, he said the Gendarmerie “respected the law”, but he is considering improving some aspects.
“It is normal that we think about how we can improve things so that they will not get out of hand, because you can realise that the situation in which we found ourselves in the aftermath of August 10 shows is not a comfortable one. The Romanian Gendarmerie provided their services 700 days of protest and only stepped in twice. The same people, the same Gendarmerie were there as well, and the reaction fit the behaviour,” Sindile said.
He added that a measure would be to hold press conferences to inform citizens before major street events where incidents may occur.
“When a governmental organisation enforces the law and uses riot gear (…) issuing warnings and injunctions, according to the law, one has to leave the place. If one fails to understand and stays there, there is a problem that needs to be regulated, perhaps through better communication or better education of the population. We have thought as an immediate measure, before any large public assembly, to hold a press conference in which to publicise, inform the population by possible steps, and degrees of a possible crackdown, about the steps that the Gendarmerie will take in order to be more transparent,” Sindile said.
He added that on August 10 there were violent actions against the law enforcement forces, so the Gendarmerie reacted.
“The Gendarmerie is not in opposition to the protest. On August 10, there were violent incidents against the law enforcement forces, for which the Gendarmerie reacted accordingly. Indeed, there were images in the public space concerning certain isolated elements, (…), but we should not generalise. Institutional crackdown, or the crackdown by the Romanian Gendarmerie is one thing, and the reaction that a certain gendarme may have in a given place is another. Thus, from a legal and disciplinary point of view, any violation or action of a gendarme in violation of the military regulations carries individual responsibility and must be regarded as such. If we believe that crackdown is unlawful, that that crackdown was illegal, then it would result that almost all crackdowns before would have been unlawful, including 2017, but I do not want to go into details,” said the head of the Romanian Gendarmerie.