MINELRES: RRC: Romanian Equality Watchdog Rules Anti-Romani Speech by the leader of extreme right party in breach of anti-discrimination law

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Mon Feb 20 08:36:53 2006


Original sender: European Roma Rights Centre <errc@errc.org>


National Council for Combating Discrimination Finds Extreme Right Leader
Violated the Law

Budapest, 14 February 2006. In a decision dated 17 January 2006 and 
communicated to the ERRC this week, the National Council for Combating
Discrimination has ruled that an anti-Romani speech made by the leader
of the extreme right Greater Romania Party was in breach of Romanian
anti-discrimination law.

The ruling was brought in response to an open letter sent by the
European Roma Rights Centre to the Romanian Prime Minister Calin Popescu
Tariceanu and other high governmental officials on 26 August 2005. The
letter had been forwarded by the Prime Minister's Office to the National
Council for Combating Discrimination, the Romanian administrative body
charged with implementing anti-discrimination law in Romania, which then
decided to launch an investigation into the allegations.

The ERRC letter referred to the outbreak of hate speech in relation to
Roma in a large segment of the Romanian media, as well as by prominent
politicians, following the release by the European Court of Human Rights
of the two judgments in the Moldovan and others v. Romania case in July
2005. That case concerned the 1993 pogrom in the village of Hadareni,
during which three Romani men were killed and eighteen Romani houses
were destroyed. The Strasbourg Court held on that occasion that the
Romanian government was in breach of a number of articles of the
European Convention.

The ERRC referred in particular to a speech made by Corneliu Vadim
Tudor, the leader of the extreme right Greater Romania Party, the third
largest party in Romania, which was aired on a public radio station and
published in the party's newspaper and on its Internet website. In that
speech, Mr. Vadim Tudor stated that during the 1993 pogrom the Romanians
were just defending their "honor" against the "gypsy rapists and
thieves" who wanted to "slaughter" them. Mr. Vadim Tudor accused the
state authorities of failing to protect the "peaceful villagers" against
the "bloody anger of a few brutes". He continued by calling on all
Romanians to "protect [their] brothers in the wounded heart of
Transylvania" against "the gypsy attacks and raids". The ERRC asked the
Romanian Prime Minister to initiate legal action against Mr. Vadim Tudor
for incitement to racial hatred in accordance with applicable domestic
and international legislation.

In a very elaborate decision in which it made extensive use of arguments
drawn from international human rights law, the National Council for
Combating Discrimination held that Mr. Vadim Tudor's utterances
constituted "discriminatory acts" in the sense of the Romanian
anti-discrimination law. To reach this conclusion, the Council noted
that "the right to free speech is not an absolute right and that its
exercise must be in accordance with certain conditions, especially in
view of the consideration and protection due to human dignity". The use
by Mr. Vadim Tudor of derogatory terms in relation to persons of Roma
ethnicity was in breach of their human dignity and it created a
'humiliating atmosphere towards a group of persons or a community, based
on their appurtenance to the Romani ethnicity". Mr. Vadim Tudor has been
however shielded from any sanction by his parliamentarian immunity.

While saluting the decision given by the National Council for Combating
Discrimination, the ERRC wishes to draw attention to the fact that the
Romanian authorities have thus far failed in their duty to implement the
Moldovan judgments of the Strasbourg Court. The community development
strategy initiated by the Government in accordance with its obligations
arising from the friendly settlement in the case has reportedly been
shelved. Furthermore, the legal suits regarding the damages due to the
victims of the pogrom are still pending in domestic courts, and that
issue therefore remains unresolved thirteen years after the incidents
took place. Finally, a significant number of the perpetrators of the
pogrom, including law enforcement officials, as well as those
authorities who for over a decade obstructed justice, still remain
unpunished despite the July 2005 ruling by the Strasbourg Court.

For further information on the case, please contact Dianne Post, ERRC
Legal Director (dianne.post@errc.org), or Constantin Cojocariu, ERRC
Staff Attorney (constantin@errc.org).
_____________________________________________

The European Roma Rights Centre is an international public interest law 
organisation which monitors the rights of Roma and provides legal
defence in cases of human rights abuse. For more information about the
European Roma Rights Centre, visit the ERRC on the web at
http://www.errc.org.

European Roma Rights Centre
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93
Hungary

Phone: +36 1 4132200
Fax: +36 1 4132201
_____________________________________________

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