US State Dept. 2017 Report on Human Rights: Corruption remains widespread in Romania
EARTH DAY – Earth Day is celebrated today in Romania as well, with cleaning projects, flower planting and hikes organised by schools, NGOs, associations and political parties. Climate changes are a clear proof that the Earth is suffering and each and every one of us can end this suffering, provided that we all work together, reads a Facebook post of the Romanian Ministry for the Environment. In 2018, events focus on containing plastic pollution. The Earth Day network, which has offices in over 175 countries, intends to raise awareness on the risks entailed by the use of plastics for people’s health as well as for the oceans and wildlife. Hundreds of millions of tons of plastics are sold around the world every year.
PROTESTS – A new large-scale rally of railway workers is scheduled for Monday, April 22, at noon, in Bucharest. On Friday more than 2,000 unionists picketed the Transport Ministry and the Government head offices. Dumitru Costin, leader of the National Union Bloc, believes all-out strike to be the only solution. Railway sector unions want a special law to regulate professions in the sector, including salary rights, and demand solutions for the Freight Transport Corporation and investments in the maintenance and development of the railway network. Romania’s railway network, the 7th longest in Europe, is subject to over 700 speed restrictions, and the 1,200 trains of the public railway corporation only total 300 cars. Transport Minister Lucian Şova said in a news release that he supported the adoption of relevant regulations and that increasing investments in the sector was a priority.
HUMAN RIGHTS – Corruption remains widespread in Romania, and bribe-giving is still common practice in the public sector, reads the 2017 Country Report on Human rights issued by the US State Department. Laws were not always implemented efficiently, and officials, judges included, 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, the report also reads. The same document notes that some Romanian politicians own or control media organisations, influencing their editorial policy. As regards prisons, the report mentions that they remained overcrowded and in breach of international standards, although the authorities took some steps to address the situation. In Romania, the US State Department says, some cases of police abuse were reported in 2017 as well, most of them going unpunished. So were cases of anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial, and discrimination against the Roma, people with disabilities and sexual minorities. Child abuse and neglect cases were also reported.
HUNGARY – Tens of thousands of protesters marched the streets of Hungarian capital city Budapest to protest governmental control over the media. This was the second consecutive Saturday of protests against PM Viktor Orban, recently re-elected to office. According to the BBC, the protesters accuse the Government of high-jacking the public and private mass media and using them in order to win the recent elections through anti-immigrant messages. The participants in the rally also criticised opposition parties and called for a new opposition movement. The PM Viktor Orban has dismissed the protests as “irrelevant,” BBC reports.
TENNIS - Simona Halep, no 1 in the world, secured Romania’s qualification in the Fed Cup World Group, with a decisive win in the playoffs. Halep defeated today in Cluj (north-west), the veteran Patty Schnyder, 39, who replaced Timea Bacsinzky, on the second day of the Fed Cup World Group playoffs. The fourth singles match, between Irina Begu and Viktorija Golubic, was therefore cancelled. In the doubles event, Simona Halep and Irina Begu face Patty Schnyder/Jil Teichman. So far, Romania is ahead, 3-0, Halep having defeated Viktorija Golubic on Saturday 2-1, while Begu outplayed Bacsinzky 2-0.
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)