19 July 1993

Doc. 6901

1403-15/7/93-2-E

REPORT

on the application by Romania

for membership of the Council of Europe

(Rapporteur: Mr KÖNIG,

Austria, Group of the European People's Party)


Summary

      In December 1991, the Romanian people approved by referendum a new constitution which guaranteed respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and established the principle of the rule of law.

      In September and October 1992 parliamentary and presidential elections took place, which were monitored by an ad hoc committee of the Assembly.

      The Romanian authorities have committed themselves to implementing, as soon as possible, a number of measures in order to resolve outstanding problems concerning the judiciary, the freedom of opinion and of the press, the protection of minorities and certain individual legal cases.

      The Assembly has also received assurances that the Romanian authorities will base their policy regarding the protection of minorities on the principles laid down in Recommendation 1201 (1993) on an additional protocol on the rights of national minorities to the European Convention on Human Rights.

      On this basis, the report proposes that the Assembly recommend that the Committee of Ministers invite Romania to become a member of the Council of Europe.

I. Draft opinion

1.       The Assembly has received a request for an opinion on the accession of Romania to the Council of Europe (Doc. 6548) from the Committee of Ministers in pursuance of Statutory Resolution (51) 30 A adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 3 May 1951.

2.       It observes that democratic parliamentary elections were held in Romania on 27 September 1992 and that they were monitored by an ad hoc committee of the Assembly. Presidential elections were held on the same day (first ballot) and on 11 October 1992 (second ballot).

3.       It appreciates the contribution made by Romania to the work of the Council of Europe both at parliamentary level since its Parliament obtained special guest status on 1 February 1991 and at intergovernmental level since acceding to the European Cultural Convention on 19 December 1991.

4.       The Assembly attaches great importance to the commitment expressed by the Romanian authorities to sign and to ratify speedily the European Convention on Human Rights and also to recognise the right of individual petition (Article 25 of the Convention), as well as the compulsory jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights (Article 46 of the Convention).

5.       It appreciates the written declaration of the Romanian authorities to base their policy regarding the protection of minorities on the principles laid down in Recommendation 1201 (1993) on an additional protocol on the rights of national minorities to the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as the commitments laid down in the letter dated 22 June 1993 of Mr Melescanu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Romania.

6.       The Assembly considers that Romania is able and willing:

      i.       to fulfil the provisions of Article 3 of the Statute which stipulates that "every member of the Council of Europe must accept the principles of the rule of law and of the enjoyment by all persons within its jurisdiction of human rights and fundamental freedoms";

      ii.       to collaborate sincerely and effectively in the realisation of the aim of the Council of Europe as specified in Chapter I of the Statute of the Council of Europe thereby fulfilling the conditions for accession to the Council of Europe as laid down in Article 4 of the Statute.

7.       The Assembly therefore recommends that the Committee of Ministers, at its next meeting:

      i.       invite Romania to become a member of the Council of Europe;

      ii.       allocate ten seats to Romania in the Parliamentary Assembly.

II. Explanatory memorandum

by Mr KÖNIG

Contents

Paragraphs

Introduction       1 - 7

Short historical overview       8 - 13

A difficult return to democracy       14 - 23

The legal system

a.        The Constitution       24 - 27

b.       The Courts       28 - 31

c.       The State Prosecutor       32 - 35

d.       The Police       36

e.       The Legal Profession       37 - 38

Minority issues       39 - 45

Other issues

a.       Freedom of religion       46 - 48

b.       Freedom of expression       49

c.       Right to respect for private life       50

d.       Local authorities       51 - 52

e.       Obligations resulting from

      Council of Europe membership       53

Conclusions       54 - 61

Appendix 1: Programme of the visit

Appendix 2: Results of the elections held in Romania on 27 September 1992 and distribution of seats in Parliament

Appendix 3: Distribution of the Romanian population by ethnic origin

Appendix 4: Letter dated 22 June 1993 of Romanian Foreign Minister Melescanu to Mr König

Introduction

1.       In December 1989, Nicolae Ceaucescu's dictatorship, one of Europe's worst, was brought down and Romania began its return to democracy.

2.       The first elections were held on 20 May 1990, and observed by an ad hoc Committee of the Assembly.

3.       The Assembly granted special guest status to Romanian Parliament on 1 February 1991, after having heard the Romanian Prime Minister, Mr Petre Roman, on 29 January 1991.

4.       On 19 December 1991, Romania formally applied for membership of the Council of Europe. This request was transmitted by the Committee of Ministers to the Assembly on 8 January 1992 (Doc. 6548). On 3 February 1992, the Bureau referred the request to the Political Affairs Committee and, for opinion, to the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights and the Committee on Relations with European Non-Member Countries.

5.       The Rapporteur made a first fact-finding visit to Romania from 26 to 30 August 1992, just before the second elections which took place on 27 September 1992 and which were also observed by an ad hoc committee of the Assembly.

6.       A report on human rights in Romania prepared by Judge Spielman of the European Court of Human Rights and Mr Frowein, Vice-President of the European Commission of Human Rights, was made public by the Bureau of the Assembly on 1 February 1993 (AS/Bur (44) 94).

7.       The three rapporteurs arranged to meet in Romania from 8 to 10 March 1993. Due to exceptionally bad weather, Mr Jansson arrived with some delay and Mr Pangalos was unable to come at all. The Rapporteur would wish to thank the Romanian authorities for their kind hospitality and efficient organisation of a large number of meetings (see programme in Appendix 1). He is also indebted to Mr Andrew Bache, United Kingdom Ambassador in Bucharest, for having organised a most helpful briefing.

Short historical overview

8.       In Roman times, the territory of what is today Romania was known as Dacia, which became a Roman province under the reign of Emperor Trajan (98 to 117 AD). Between the fourth and the thirteenth centuries, the area saw successive waves of migrants, including Goths, Huns and Slavs. Three neighbouring self-dependent principalities, Walachia, Moldavia and Transylvania emerged. Hungarian tribes began to settle in the ninth century. In the twelfth century, Transylvania was included as an autonomous region in the Hungarian Kingdom. Walachia and Moldavia became independent feudal states during the fourteenth century and during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries waged several wars against the Ottoman Turks. They had to accept the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire by the sixteenth century.

9.       In 1600, Michael the Brave reunited for the first time the territories of Walachia, Transylvania and Moldavia. During the eighteenth century, the Romanian principalities became the theatre of wars between Russia, Austria and the Ottoman Empire, and parts of their territory were annexed by the Habsburg Empire and Russia (the eastern part of the Principality of Moldova, later known as Bessarabia).

10.       As everywhere in Europe, 1848 saw revolutionary movements in all Romanian principalities, which were however defeated by the intervention of Ottoman, Habsburg and Russian armies. The Paris Peace Congress, following the end of the Crimean war in 1856, resulted in the retrocession of Bessarabia to Moldavia and the convention of local assemblies to decide on the future of the principalities of Walachia and Moldavia. These principalities united in 1859 under Prince Alexandru Ioan Cuza and in 1862 adopted the name of Romania and established the capital city in Bucharest. A constitutional monarchy was established in 1866 under Carol I of Hollenzollern. Romania's independence was internationally recognised at the Congress of Berlin (1878) and it was proclaimed a kingdom in 1881.

11.       After an initial neutrality, Romania entered the first world war on the side of the Entente in 1916. In 1918, Transylvania, Banat, Bukovina and Bessarabia voted to unite with Romania. This wish was endorsed by the international Peace Treaties of 1919-20.

12.       A democratic constitution was adopted in 1923 and successive governments were formed by the People's Party, the National Labour Party and the National Peasant Party. However, in 1938, King Carol II established a dictatorship. On the basis of a secret protocol to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (23 August 1939), and following the outbreak of the second world war, Romania was forced to cede Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina to Russia. Romania was forced to give up the north-western part of Transylvania to Hungary and Southern Dobrudja to Bulgaria (the Vienna Diktat). These events led to the abdication of King Carol II and General Ion Antonescu establishing a military dictatorship. Romania entered the war on the side of the Axis in 1941.

13.       Antonescu's regime was overthrown in August 1944 and Romania joined the Allies. In 1945, a communist dominated government was imposed on Romania and in 1947 the King was forced to abdicate and the People's Republic was proclaimed. In 1948 and 1965 communist-inspired constitutions were adopted. Also in 1965, Nicolae Neaucescu became Secretary General of the Communist Party and shortly afterwards head of state. During the 1970s and 1980s Romania experienced a terrible dictatorship.

A difficult return to democracy

14.       The Romanian revolution started on 16 December 1989 in the town of Timisoara in Transylvania, and rapidly spread to other cities. On 22 December, a Council of the National Salvation Front (CNSF), consisting of former communist leaders, dissidents and military officers seized power. Mr Ion Iliescu, spokesman of the CNSF, proclaimed the revolution to be "victorious" on 24 December. The following day, the former dictator Mr Nikolai Ceaucescu and his wife were executed by firing squad after a summary trial before a military court.

15.       On 26 December 1989, the CNCF named Ion Iliescu President and abolished the most oppressive laws of Ceaucescu's regime. On 28 December a new government was appointed and Romania ceased to be a "socialist republic". However, political unrest continued throughout the country and several people were killed during violent clashes in Tirgu Mures on 21 March 1990.

16.       Elections were held for the Presidency, the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies on 20 May 1990. These were observed by an ad hoc committee of the Bureau, which concluded that they had been generally free, reasonably secret and relatively fair. The committee also observed that they were only the beginning of the democratisation process.The elections were a victory for Mr Iliescu with a majority of over 85% and for his party, the National Salvation Front, which obtained 66% of votes for the Chamber of Deputies and 67% of votes for the Senate.

17.       The political situation remained unstable and violence, the origin of which remains contested until this day, erupted in Bucharest on 13 June 1990. In response, the government appealed to the Romanian miners who "cleared" the university square of student demonstrators. The events claimed casualties and resulted in attacks on the headquarters of several political parties as well as on the private homes of opposition party leaders. The Romanian parliament set up a committee of enquiring to these events which produced a report which was made available to the Parliamentary Assembly in January 1991. At the time of writing this report, however, it had not yet been debated in the Romanian Parliament.

18.       On 29 January 1991, Mr Petre Roman, Prime Minister of Romania, addressed the Parliamentary Assembly stressing Romania's European vocation. In reply to a question from Mr Niegel, he stated that events like those of June 1990 should definitely be avoided if Romania believed in democracy.

19.       However, on 25 September 1991, between 3 000 and 5 000 miners, again descended on Bucharest, demanding the resignation of Mr Roman. After they attacked the parliament building, the government resigned. President Iliescu thereupon nominated Mr Stolojan, who did not belong to any party, as Prime Minister.

20.       The events underlined the great differences that had arisen between Mr Iliescu and Mr Roman, the two men who had dominated the National Salvation Front since the beginning. Not surprisingly, the party split in two, hardliners and other dissidents forming the Democratic National Salvation Front, supporting the President, and the National Salvation Front, which remained faithful to Mr Roman.

21.       In February 1992, local elections were held in Romania, which were considered by a delegation from the Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe to have been free and fair.

22.       Elections for the Presidency (first round), the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies took place on 27 September 1992 and were again observed by an hoc committee of the Bureau. The committee concluded (Doc. 6724, Addendum V) that the ballot had been connected peacefully and seemingly in generally acceptable conditions of normality and propriety. However, the committee noted with concern a number of accusations regarding the counting of the votes. The results of the elections and the distribution of seats in parliament are set out in Appendix 2. On 11 October 1992, the second round of the presidential elections resulted in a victory for Mr Iliescu.

      On 19 November 1992, a new government led by Mr Nicolae Vàcàroiu (Democratic National Salvation Front, Mr Iliescu's party) was approved by parliament. In reply to a letter by the President of the Assembly, Mr Vàcàroiu, on 22 January 1993, informed the Assembly that the Central Electoral Committee had examined the complaints and stated that no political party or group had contested the final results or the final elections.

23.       Since the 1989 revolution, parliament has become an important factor in Romanian political life. A large number of communist-era laws have already been replaced and the considerable legislative effort looks set to continue, also with a view to establishing a social market economy. The application of the new laws at every level, however, also requires changes in mentality.

      As regards the composition of parliament, the Democratic National Salvation Front has a majority in both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate with the help of the "Romania Mare" Party, the Socialist Party of Labour (the former Communist Party) and the Romanian National Unity Party. The opposition consists of the National Salvation Front and the Democratic Convention, itself composed mainly of four political groups (Christian and Democratic National Peasant Party, the Party of Civic Alliance, the Democratic Union of Magyars and dissident groups from the National Liberal Party, which itself is not represented in parliament). It would appear that in the Senate the National Salvation Front is sometimes supported by members of the Romanian National Unity Party and that the deputies and senators of the Christian and Democratic National Peasant Party do not always cast a homogeneous vote. There is an all-party consensus in support of Romania's joining the Council of Europe.

The legal system

a.       The Constitution

24.       The Romanian draft constitution was prepared by an all-party drafting committee and in close consultation with constitutional law experts from several western European countries. The text was adopted by parliament by 510 votes to 95 and approved by referendum on 8 December 1991. Participation was less than 70% but three-quarters of those who voted were in favour.

25.       The Constitution established a political system that has been referred to as "semi-presidential" or "presidentialist", and which bears certain similarities to the one set up by the Constitution of the French Republic. The presidential mandate however is four years, like the parliamentary mandate.

26.       As regards the Constitution's provisions on human rights, the Rapporteur would refer to the report prepared by Mr Spielmann and Mr Frowein, mentioned in paragraph 6. Both eminent lawyers considered the Constitution to meet the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights. In this context, particular attention should be drawn to Article 20 para. 2 of the Constitution, according to which "where anyinconsistencies exist between the covenants and treaties on fundamental rights Romania is a party to, and internal laws, the international regulations shall take precedence". The death penalty is prohibited by Article 22 para. 3 of the Constitution.

27.       However, the Rapporteur also notes the concern expressed by these lawyers about the application of the Romanian Constitution. In particular, Mr Frowein noted that the rights and freedoms recognised in the Constitution did not appear to be universally guaranteed in a visible manner and cited the violence of the miners as an example. The Romanian Government, on 17 March 1993, issued a written declaration announcing that, following its admission to the Council of Europe, Romania would adhere to the European Convention on Human Rights and its additional protocols as soon as possible. The Rapporteur welcomes this position, which was also supported by representatives of all political parties during their visit.

b.       The courts

28.       Although the Constitution would appear to regulate the organisation of the judiciary according to European standards on separation of powers, it should be noted that the judges of the Supreme Court do not enjoy full irremovability in that they are only appointed for a six-year term of office. Considerable efforts have been made to improve the administration of justice under the new law on the organisation of the judiciary (No. 92/1992), to take effect on 1 July 1993. The number of courts of first instance will nearly be doubled, and a new tier will be introduced by the creation of fifteen appeal courts.

29.       A constitutional court has already been created, composed of nine judges, with the Chamber of Deputies, the Senate and the President each appointing three of its members. Their mandate is nine years.

30.       Following the revolution, many changes have taken place with regard to personnel. For instance, forty-five of forty-seven Supreme Court judges have been replaced. The Rapporteur considers that it is important also to promote judges' training in the application of new legislation.

31.       The new law also establishes a high council of magistrature, composed of judges elected by parliament from a list of persons nominated by the magistrate's representative organs. It will be competent to nominate candidates for appointment (prosecutors and judges), decide on promotions and transfers, and act as a disciplinary body. In the latter case, the Council is presided by the President of the Supreme Court with the right to vote. In other cases, the Council is presided by the Minister of Justice who cannot vote.

c.       The State Prosecutor

32.       While the courts system thus appears to be in line with the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Council of Europe's Statute, the functioning of the Office of the State Prosecutor raises serious issues. During their visit in Romania, the Rapporteur found that the concerns expressed by Mr Frowein in his report were to a large extent shared by the opposition parties as well as by others. Moreover, the Rapporteur has received information from Amnesty International which adds to these concerns. The fact that at the time of the Rapporteurs' visit, the State Prosecutor and his deputy were army generals would appear to be emblematic of the problems raised. Since then, a civilian has been appointed as State Prosecutor, but the former incumbent still acts as his deputy.

33.       During the meeting with the then State Prosecutor, the Rapporteur did not receive satisfactory answers to questions about the apparent unwillingness of the State Prosecutor's Office to bring charges in a number of cases where obvious criminal acts had been committed. These acts included attacks on members of the Gypsy community, the attacks on the house of certain opposition leaders, and the slandering of the Jewish community by the weekly "Europa". In addition, members of the opposition parties complained that the State Prosecutor had not taken any legal action against those responsible for the violence in Bucharest in June 1990 and September 1991. The Rapporteur cannot but express his regret about the attitude of the then State Prosecutor which cast serious doubts on the respect for the rule of law in Romania.

34.       Representatives of the government party, the Democratic National Salvation Front, pointed out that under the new law on the organisation of the judiciary (see para 26 above) the Procuratura (Office of the State Prosecutor — Ministère Public) will become part of the Ministry of Justice. The Rapporteur is anxious to see this transition take place smoothly, and hopes that it will dissipate the aforementioned doubts on the respect for the rule of law, and thus remove the main obstacle to Romania's accession to the Council of Europe.

35.       A related problem mentioned by Mr Frowein concerns detention on remand. Under the present Romanian system, a citizen may be held in detention for a maximum of thirty days under warrant issued by a prosecutor. As he points out, this is unacceptable under the terms of the European Convention on Human Rights (Article 5.3), which provides that a person arrested or detained should be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorised by the law to exercise judicial power. This judge or officer should not be the one who is in charge of the investigations. The prosecutor's right to extend detention for a further thirty days under the Romanian system is also at variance with the requirements of Article 5.3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

d.       The police

36.       Although there was consensus that the police force had made much progress towards European standards, it must be noted that, for the time being, they retain military status. The Rapporteur was told by various interlocutors that, given the rise in ordinary crimes, the discipline inherent in a military body was essential to enable the police to confront these new challenges and prevent corruption. The government considered that a demilitarisation under the present circumstances would demoralise the police and reduce its effectiveness. Others, however, severely criticised this situation. Although many assurances were given that the police were under civilian control, the problem remains that complaints against police officers can only be brought before military prosecutors who alone can decide to bring charges. Given the apparent reluctance to bring charges in a number of cases, as stated above, this situation, too, gives rise to legitimate concern.

e.       The legal profession

37.       In a letter addressed to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, dated 3 March 1993, the President of the Romanian Bar Association drew attention to the fact that the legal profession was still partly obliged to work under the terms of a communist decree of 1954, only certain parts of which had been modified in 1990. A draft law replacing this decree was prepared by the Bar Association and was presented to parliament by certain senators who are also lawyers. However, the Bar Association regretted that the Romanian Parliament did not yet adopt this text because it was given low priority. It has urged parliament to resume its debate on the issue.

38.       The Rapporteur supports the position of the Bar Association and considers that, in any country, proper regulations concerning the functioning of the legal profession must be considered as one of the principles of the rule of law within the meaning of Article 3 of the Council of Europe's Statute.

Minority issues

39.       According to the census of 7 January 1992, Romania has a total population of around 22 700 000. Romanians make up about twenty million representing 89,3% of the total population. The Hungarian minority with 1,6 million people (7,1%) is the largest minority followed by Gypsies which, according to the census, make up over 400 000 (1,8%). Gypsy representatives, however, consider two million to be a more realistic estimate. The once numerous German minority has been reduced to little over 100 000. For the distribution of the Romanian population by ethnic origin, see Appendix 3. Apart from the Hungarian minority, which is represented by twelve senators and twenty-seven deputies, thirteen other minorities have one, ex officio (under the electoral law) seat in the Chamber of Deputies.

40.       The Rapporteur spoke to representatives of minorities both during his first fact-finding visit to Romania from 26 to 30 August 1992 and during his visit together with Mr Jansson from 8 to 10 March 1993. It has to be stressed that representatives of all minorities supported Romania's request for membership of the Council of Europe.

41.       The Hungarian minority repeated its earlier wish that the parliament adopt a separate law on the protection of minorities as well as a law on education guaranteeing the rights of minorities to have separate schools. The Rapporteur considers that these wishes have to be assessed in the light of the tensions that exist in Romania with regard to its Hungarian minority. These tensions have been exacerbated by extremists from both sides. The measures taken by Mr Funar, leader of the National Unity Party of Romania, who was elected Mayor in Cluj- Napocka in February 1992, and who has a markedly intolerant and nationalistic attitude towards minorities, have scarcely improved matters in that city. On the other hand, certain statements by radical elements in Hungary also have been far from helpful.

42.       The deputy of the Gypsy (Roma) minority drew attention to certain specific problems, in particular the lack of firm action against persons having committed crimes against members of the Roma community. Lack of support to effectively exercise civil, economic and cultural rights was also a source of complaints. The authorities, on their part, stressed the high involvement of members of the Roma community in ordinary crimes as a reason for many of the existing problems. There was consensus that Romania's membership of the Council of Europe could contribute to finding solutions for these problems, which Romania shares with several other European countries.

43.       The representatives of both the Hungarian and Gypsy minority criticised the long prison sentences given to members of these minorities who were tried in connection with the events during the December 1989 revolution in the provinces of Hargita and Kovasna, and in Tirgu Mures in March 1990. These sentences are seen as political, especially since a general amnesty covering acts committed during the revolution was not applied. President Iliescu promised the Rapporteur to examine the possibility of a Presidential pardon in these cases favourably. Such a pardon would certainly improve relations with these minorities.

44.       During the Rapporteur's most recent visit, all political parties represented in parliament were asked whether they would be in favour of Romania's granting to its minorities the rights included in the proposed new additional protocol on the rights of minorities to the European Convention on Human Rights (Recommendation 1201 (1993)). It is recalled here that the Assembly in Order No. 484 (1993) instructed its Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights "to make scrupulously sure when examining requests for accession to the Council of Europe that the rights included in this protocol are respected by the applicant countries". Written reactions were also asked for as regards the position of the different political parties on the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages and Assembly Recommendation 1203 (1993) on Gypsies in Europe. The Rapporteur notes with satisfaction that virtually all parties gave a favourable reply. Several interlocutors considered that the rights granted to minorities under Romanian law already considerably exceeded guarantees found in international instruments. The government, in the declaration of 17 March already cited above, also expressed its willingness to accede to the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages.

45.       On 6 April 1993, a Council for National Minorities was set up as a consultative body. Its task is to liaise between the government and organisations representing national minorities. It is composed of fourteen governmental representatives and thirty-six representatives of Romania's (seventeen) minorities and ethnic groups.

Other issues

a.       Freedom of religion

46.       During his visit, the Rapporteur met with representatives of Romania's main cults. He heard complaints by representatives of the Greek Catholic Church that freedom to practice this religion was rendered practically impossible because churches were not be given back, although the necessary official decisions existed. In addition, he heard reports of actual attacks on Greek Catholics by members of the Orthodox Church.

47.       Members of the Orthodox Church denied the allegations and warned of the risk of religious war like in Transylvania. They pointed out that Greek Catholics made up a very small minority in this region. It became clear that the conflict between the Greek Catholics and Orthodox Church was also closely linked to the tensions between the Hungarian minority and the Romanian population in Transylvania.

48.       The Jewish representatives confirmed reports that no legal measures were taken against the slandering of this community in certain publications. The Roman Catholic Church asked for the return of its former school buildings.

b.       Freedom of expression

49.       Regrets in the international press about difficulties with access to information were confirmed by Romanian journalists during the Rapporteur's visit. Complaints were received about the government's control over the distribution of newspapers and the difficult working conditions for the press in parliament. The Rapporteur considers that these complaints should be taken seriously and require further clarification because openness of plenary parliamentary proceedings must be considered a hallmark of democracy. The people must be given the possibility to monitor the behaviour, also in voting, of their elected representatives and the role of the media is essential in making this possible.

c.       Right to respect for private life

50.       The Rapporteur notes with concern that under Article 200 of the Romanian Criminal Code, homosexual acts conducted in private between consenting adults remain a criminal offence. A number of persons are currently serving prison sentences after having been convicted of this offence. The Rapporteur would draw attention to the fact that the European Court of Human Rights has consistently held that such a prohibition, even in the absence of actual prosecution, violates Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (see following judgments: Dudgeon v. United Kingdom (22/10/81), Norris v. Ireland (26/10/88) and recently Modinos v. Cyprus (22/4/93)). The Court would thus a fortiori come to a similar finding where people have actually been convicted, as in Romania.

d.       Local authorities

51.       The Rapporteur has noted the findings of the observer delegation of the Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, according to which the municipal elections held in Romania on 9 and 23 February 1992 were basically free and fair.

52.       However, he regrets that specific legislation concerning the local authorities' right to collect local taxes and duties (enshrined in the Law 69 of 26 November 1991 on public administration) has not been enacted, thus seriously hampering the effective exercise of local autonomy.

e.       Obligations resulting from Council of Europe membership

53.       At the Bureau's request, the Rapporteur asked the Romanian Government whether it was prepared to accept the general Agreement on Privileges and Immunities and the Protocol thereto once Romania would join the Organisation. The government confirmed that it was prepared to accept all obligations resulting from Council of Europe membership.

Conclusions

54.       There can be no doubt that much progress towards democracy has been made in Romania since the fall of Ceaucescu's dictatorship three years ago. Yet, the country clearly still is in a transitional phase, as was indeed stressed by nearly all Romanian interlocutors during the visit. An encouraging sign is that, despite certain problems with regard to the elections, their final outcome was accepted by all political parties. With seven parties in the Chamber of Deputies (not counting the thirteen seats reserved for national minorities) and eight in the Senate, Romania's political pluralism seems to have taken root and a clear political spectrum has begun to emerge.

55.       The difficulties on the road to democracy that were experienced over the past years, and which, on two occasions, culminated in violent action by the miners in Bucharest, appear to have been overcome. The Rapporteur, however, shares the concern of those who consider that a recurrence of such events cannot be excluded until the past incidents have been fully investigated and those responsible have been brought to justice. Until this will have been done, doubts will continue to linger on the state of democracy in Romania.

56.       Similar doubts also persist as regards the rule of law. Where the latter prevails, it is clear that no one should be above the law and yet several cases, in addition to the miners' incidents, were brought to the Rapporteur's attention where no legal action was taken against persons who clearly committed criminal acts. These included physical attacks on members of the Roma community and clearly anti-semitic publications. An independent judiciary can only be fully effective if it is assisted by a democratically controlled public prosecution. Unfortunately, the latter is still lacking in Romania where the office of the State Prosecutor, until recently led by two generals, does not yet form part of the Ministry of Justice. Moreover, the attitude of the former State Prosecutor, now deputy State Prosecutor, confirms reservations about the present situation. It is true that, as mentioned in paragraph 34, a new law on the organisation of the judiciary will enter into effect on 1 July 1993 which should change this situation and enable Romania to fulfil the requirements of Council of Europe membership. A further positive step in this respect would be the adoption of a law on the functioning of the legal profession, as repeatedly asked for by the Romanian Bar Association.

57.       Apart from pluralist democracy and respect for the principles of the rule of law, the Rapporteur has also examined other aspects of Romania's respect for human rights. A very positive indication is the willingness of the Romanian government (and indeed of all political parties) to rapidly sign and ratify the European Convention on Human Rights and its additional protocols, once Romania will have joined the Council of Europe. Apart from the criticism voiced by Mr Frowein in his report on certain legal provisions (which the Romanian legislature should be able to bring in line with the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights), the situation would appear to be generally positive. A major problem, however, that was presented during the meetings in Romania concerned the apparent lack of access to information by the press. Examples were given concerning parliament, which were corroborated by reports from other sources. In this respect too, progress would appear desirable, as access to information is an essential element of press freedom, which in term is a prerequisite for democracy.

58.       Because of the often difficult relationship between Romania and its Hungarian minority, and the even more problematic situation of its Gypsy minority, further confidence could be built if the Romanian Parliament adopted legislation on the rights of minorities and on education. If Romania, as emphasised by members of the government and several political parties, already grants many rights to its minorities de facto, the adoption of these texts, which are already pending before parliament, should not pose insurmountable difficulties.

59.       The positive attitude of the Romanian Government to Recommendation 1201 as well as to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages is very much welcomed. The Rapporteur will inform the committee of replies by the political parties on their position on Recommendation 1201 (1993) on an additional protocol on the rights of minorities to the European Convention on Human Rights and Recommendation 1203 (1993) on Gypsies in Europe.

60.       The Rapporteur has noted that there is general consensus in Romania among the different political parties, and among the different ethnic groups, that the country should join the Council of Europe as soon as possible.

61.       Following his visit, the Rapporteur had intensive contacts with the Romanian authorities. These resulted in a number of commitments laid down in the letter of Foreign Minister Melescanu of 22 June 1993 (see Appendix 4). On this basis, the Rapporteur proposes that the Assembly adopt a favourable opinion on Romania's request for membership of the Council of Europe.

APPENDIX 1

Programme

of the visit to Romania of the Rapporteurs of the

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

(8-10 March 1993)


Monday 8 March 1993

5 p.m.              Briefing at the United Kingdom Embassy

8 p.m.       Working dinner with Mr Teodor Melescanu, Minister for Foreign Affairs

Tuesday 9 March 1993

9 a.m.       Meeting with the leaders of the parliamentary groups of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies

10.30 a.m.       Meeting with representatives of the German minority

11.30 a.m.       Meeting with representatives of the Roma and Gypsy minority

12.30 p.m.       Meeting with representatives of the Hungarian minority

2 p.m.       Working lunch with the members of the special guest delegation of the Romanian Parliament to the Parliamentary Assembly

3.30 p.m.       Meeting with representatives of other minorities represented in the parliament

5 p.m.       Meeting with representatives of the Bar Association

6 p.m.       Meeting with representatives of NGOs on human rights

7 p.m.       Meeting with representatives of the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, Ministry of Justice and the State Prosecution

8 p.m.       Meeting with Mr Oliviu Gherman, President of the Senate, and Mr Adrian Nastase, President of the House of Deputies

9 p.m.       Working dinner with the Presidents of the two chambers of parliament

Wednesday 10 March 1993

9 a.m.       Meeting with representatives of Cults

10.30 a.m.       Meeting with representatives of the Democratic Convention

12 noon       Meeting with representatives of the Party of the National Romanian Unity

12.30 p.m.       Meeting with representatives of the "Romania Mare" Party

1 p.m.       Working lunch hosted by representatives of the National Salvation Front

2.30 p.m.       Meeting with representatives of the Socialist Labour Party

3 p.m.       Meeting with representatives of the Democratic Agrarian Party of Romania

3.30 p.m.       Meeting with representatives of the Democratic National Salvation Front

5 p.m.       Meeting with representatives of mass media

6.30 p.m.       Meeting with His Excellency Nicolae Vàcàroiu, Prime Minister of Romania

7.30 p.m.       Meeting with His Excellency Ion Iliescu, President of Romania

Thursday 11 March 1993

9 a.m.       Meeting with representatives of the Associations "21st of December", "Jilava" and the Association of the Former Political Prisoners. The "Civic Alliance" was also represented.

10 a.m.       Press conference

Departure of the delegation

APPENDIX 2

A. Results of the elections held in Romania

on 27 September 19921

      Out of 16 380 663 electors appearing on the electoral lists, 12 496 430, that is 76,29%, voted.

First round of the presidential elections

      Number of votes obtained by the various presidential candidates:

1.       Ion Iliescu       5 633 456 - 47,34%

2.       Emil Constantinescu       3 717 006 - 31,24%

3.       Gheorghe Funar       1 294 388 - 10,88%

4.       Caius Traian Dragomir       564 655 - 4,75%

5.       Ioan Minzatu       362 485 - 3,05%

6.       Mircea Druc       326 866 - 2,75%

Number of spoilt ballots:       597 574 - 4,88%

Elections to the chamber of deputies of the parliament

      Number of votes obtained by the various lists:

1.       Democratic National Salvation Front       3 015 708 - 27,71%

2.       Democratic Convention of Romania       2 177 144 - 20,01%

3.       National Salvation Front       1 108 500 - 10,18%

4.       Party of Romanian National Unity       839 586 - 7,71%

5.       Magyar Democratic Union of Romania       811 290 - 7,45%

6.       "Romania Mare" Party       426 061 - 3,89%

7.       Socialist Labour Party       330 378 - 3,03%

      Other       2 171 585 - 19,96%

Number of spoilt ballots       1 616 178 - 12,93%

Elections to the senate of the parliament

      Number of votes obtained by the various lists:

1.       Democratic National Salvation Front       3 102 201 - 28,29%

2.       Democratic Convention of Romania       2 210 722 - 20,16%

3.       National Salvation Front       1 139 033 - 10,38%

4.       Party of Romanian National Unity       890 410 - 8,12%

5.       Magyar Democratic Union of Romania       831 469 - 7,58%

6.       "Romania Mare" Party       422 545 - 3,85%

7.       Agrarian Democratic Party of Romania       362 427 - 3,30%

8.       Socialist Labour Party       349 470 - 3,18%

      Other       1 656 541 - 15,11%

Number of spoilt ballots       1 531 612 - 12,26%

B. Distribution of seats in parliament2

      Party       Chamber of Deputies       Senate

Democratic National Salvation

Front (FDSN)       117       49

Democratic Convention

of Romania (CDR)       82       34

      of which

- National Peasants Party -

Christian Democratic (PNTCD)       41       21

- Civic Alliance Party (PAC)       13       7

- National Liberal Party - youth

wing (PNL-AT)       11       1

- Social Democratic Party

of Romania (PSDR)       10       1

- Romanian Ecologist Party (PER)       4       -

- New Liberal Party (PNL-CD)       3       4

National Salvation Front (FSN)       43       18

Party of Romanian National

Unity (PUNR)       30       14

Magyar Democratic Union

of Romania (UDMR)       27       12

"Romania Mare" Party (PRM)       16              6

Socialist Labour Party (PSM)       13              5

Agrarian Democratic Party

of Romania (PDAR)       -              5

Representatives of other minorities       13       -

      ____       ___________________________________

TOTAL       341       143

APPENDIX 3

APPENDIX 4

Letter addressed by Mr Teodor Melescanu,

Minister of State, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Romania,

to Mr Friedrich König, Rapporteur for Romania of

the Political Affairs Committee (22 June 1993)

....

      I should like to express once again the pleasure that both President Ion Iliescu and myself had for our meeting and conversations with you in Vienna, on 15 June 1993.

      May I take this opportunity to assure you once again, as I did on previous occasions, when we met you in your capacity as Rapporteur of the Political Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for the admission of Romania, that President Ion Iliescu and the Romanian Government took your observations and suggestions most seriously and constructively, determined to follow them in good faith in formulating and implementing the governmental domestic policies.

      It was in the same spirit that on 25 May, I addressed a letter to Madame Catherine Lalumière, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, in which I made it abundantly clear that the official position of the Romanian Government is its commitment to accept in their entirety the Convention of the Council of Europe on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and its additional protocols, as well as the recommendations of the Parliamentary Assembly, and to ensure their implementation.

      As you may wish to recall, during our conversations in Vienna, President Iliescu reconfirmed the resolute option of Romania to go ahead on the path of democratic reforms, and to undertake in the shortest possible time measures recommended by the rapporteurs of the Council of Europe that would bring the democratisation of the Romanian society and its institutions in line with the standards set up by the Council.

      Following the Vienna meeting of 15 June 1993, I wish to focus in particular on a number of points on which, in my view, we have reached a common understanding, and President Iliescu is determined to make use of his constitutional prerogatives in order to have them considered and implemented as soon as possible by competent governmental and legislative bodies.

1.       The judiciary

      The judiciary system in Romania is undergoing now through the final stage of adapting its structures to the prerequisite of the state of law, in keeping with the constitution of the country. The relevant legislation will enter into force on 1 July 1993 and it will be implemented at all levels. Accordingly, prosecutors will carry out their activity based on the principles of legality and impartiality, under the supervision of the Public Ministry, placed under the control and the authority of the Minister of Justice.

      As head of the Prosecution, which according to the constitution is turned into Public Ministry, there is now a civilian prosecutor general. One of his deputies is for the time being a military, but his competence is limited exclusively to military courts and military prosecution, dealing with cases involving military men or offenses against military institutions.

      In exercising their competence, they follow the provisions of the Code of Common Law, there being no Code of Military Justice in Romania.

2.       Freedom of opinion and freedom of the press

      The President of Romania, in his capacity as guarantor of the Constitution, is acting and will always keep it high among his preoccupations to ensure the freedom of opinion and the freedom of the press.

      This applies particularly to the free access of the media to parliamentary debates, to press conferences of the President and members of the Cabinet, the right to uncensored information, to private broadcasting and television stations, as well as securing to all political parties their access to national radio and television to enable them to present diverse and objective views.

      As stated by President Iliescu in his recent address at the United Nations World Conference on Human Rights, "in fact our press has no formal regulations of any sort. Often, rumours are printed as facts, and slander, libel and calumny have become regular phenomenon. This is probably the price we have to pay until our whole society will become more mature in its democratic exercise".

3.       Protection of minorities

      The Romanian Constitution, drafted with the assistance of the Council of Europe, contains basic pragmatic provisions for the protection of persons belonging to national minorities, of their spiritual and cultural identity and the President, as chief of state, considers himself responsible for their implementation.

      To ensure the implementation of those provisions, a number of measures is envisaged to be taken, including in the parliament, to make them operational and secured.

      Recently, a Council on National Minorities was set up, with the view to ensuring a permanent dialogue between the minorities and the government, to addressing administrative and financial issues concerning the exercise of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities, and examining and presenting draft laws to the parliament that pertain to guarantee and exercise these rights.

      At the same time, the parliament is encouraged in its efforts to adopt as soon as possible a draft law on education, which will take care to a larger degree of the specific needs of national minorities, in keeping with Recommendation 1201 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

4.       In respect to several legal individual cases, may I assure you that the President is considering them carefully and with understanding. Of course, they belong to the competence of the justice. Recently, the Supreme Court has rejected the appeal in one of those cases. Under the circumstances, a political intervention could be interpreted as intrusion in the functioning of justice, contrary to the spirit of the state of law, of social peace and democracy.

      In his assessment, the President is considering all these facts. Within the framework of his constitutional prerogatives, he will examine the possibility of undertaking some steps until the end of the year that will send a positive signal in solving this issue. At the same time, the President is not ruling out the possibility that, as a climate of tolerance, of trust of the population in the authority, fairness and impartiality of the justice is increasing, a pardon could be also considered.

      And now referring to other questions mentioned in your report and in the memorandum submitted by Mr Gunnar Jansson, as for instance the parliamentary control over the Romanian Intelligence Services, I assume that you are informed of the recent decisions of the Romanian Parliament.

      The Romanian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly session of 29 June to 2 July 1993 will submit detailed information on those decisions.

      In conclusion, I wish to assure you of the disposition of President Ion Iliescu and the Romanian Government to examine in an open and constructive manner, and good faith the issues you have raised in your discussions with Romanian authorities.

      In the hope that my letter will facilitate your understanding of those issues, please accept, dear Dr König, the assurances of my highest consideration.

      (Signed) Teodor Melescanu

      Reporting committee: Political Affairs Committee.

      Committees for opinion: Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights and Committee on Relations with European Non-Member Countries.

      Budgetary implications for the Assembly: none.

      Reference to committee: Doc. 6548 and Reference No. 1766 of 3 February 1992.

      Draft opinion adopted by the committee on 1 July 1993 with 32 votes to 1 and 4 abstentions

      Members of the committee: Mr Reddemann (Chairman), Sir Dudley Smith (Vice-Chairman) (Alternate: Sir Anthony Durant), Mrs Baarveld-Schlaman (Vice-Chairperson), MM. Agnelli (Alternate: Ferrarini), Alvarez-Cascos (Alternate: Fabra), Andreotti (Alternate: Ferrari), Antretter, Baumel, Björn Bjarnason, Bokov, Bratinka, Cimoszwicz, Efraimoglou, Espersen, Lord Finsberg, MM. Fiorini, Flückiger, Galanos (Alternate: Hadjidemetriou), Gricius, Mrs Haller, Mrs Halonen, MM. Hardy, Hellström (Alternate: Mrs Hjelm-Wallen), Irmer (Alternate: Feldmann), Kaspereit, Kelam, Kelchtermans, Kenneally, König, Mrs Lentz-Cornette, MM. van der Linden, Machete, Martins, Maruflu (Alternate: Güner), Masseret, Mimaroglu, Moya (Alternate: de Puig), Oehry, Pahor, Pangalos, Panov, Psaila Savona, Schieder, Seeuws, Mrs Suchocka (Alternate: Mr Moczulski), MM. Szent-Ivanyi (Alternate: Ternak), Tarschys, Thoresen, Trabacchini (Alternate: Di Carolis).

      N.B.       The names of those members who took part in the meeting are printed in italics.

      Secretaries to the committee: MM. Sorinas and Kleijssen.


1 1 1. The figures were communicated by the Romanian General Consulate in Strasbourg.

2 1 1. The figures were communicated by the Romanian General Consulate in Strasbourg.