Size, composition and historical presence of the Roma communities
Roma is one of the 18 recognised national minorities in Romania. According to the Romanian National Population Census from 2011, only 621,573 persons out of a total population of 20,121,641 declared themselves as being Roma, i.e. 3.08 % of the total population. It should be noted that the number of self-declared Roma increased compared to the previous censuses from 2001 (535,140) and 1992 (401,087).
During the thematic visit on early/child and forced marriages within Roma communities (Bucharest, 27-29 April 2015), the National Agency for Roma (NAR) gave an estimate of 1.5 to 2 million Roma living in Romania which is in line with the Council of Europe’s current estimate of 1.8 million therefore close to 9% of the total population. Romania has the second highest number of Roma population in Council of Europe’s member States, after Turkey, and the highest number among European Union Member States.
According to the National Agency for Roma, and based on the population census results, out of the self-declared approximate 620,000 Roma living in Romania, 230,000 are living in urban areas and 390,000 in rural areas. About one third of the self-declared Roma population in Romania (244,000) speaks the Romani language.
Not all of them are identifying themselves as Roma, depending on the preservation of traditions; some of them are identifying themselves as Gypsies (mainly those which do not speak the Romani language as their mother tongue), or only by the denomination of the sub-group.
Sub-group affiliation is not unanimous: according to a research conducted in Romania in 2008, 56% of the Roma respondents did not identify with a sub-group, whilst 44% of the Roma respondents also identified with a sub-group. From those respondents who also identify themselves as belonging to Roma sub-groups, one obtains the following distribution in Romania: Vătraşi (13.8%), Căldărari/Kikavara (5.9%), Rudari (4.5%), Spoitori (3.7%), Mătăsari (3.2%), Ursari (2.7%), Cărămidari (1.5%), Gabori (1.4%), Florari/Boldeni (1.2%) - (source: http://www.natgeo.ro/locuri-si-oameni/comunitati/9165-neamuri-tiganesti).
Other known Roma sub-groups are Lăutari, Argintari, Lăieși, Cocalari, Horahai/Xoraxaj (Muslim Roma, often confused with Spoitori), Ciurari, Cortorari/Zavragii, Geambaşi, Lingurari and Rostaş. Depending on the author, the number of Roma sub-groups varies between 20 and 30, quite often the same sub-group carrying on several denominations.
Source: CAHROM thematic report on child/early and forced marriages within Roma communities (adopted in April 2016)
The situation of Roma women in Romania
The Roma population in Romania is the second minority after the Hungarian minority. At the census conducted in 2011, there were a total of about 620,000 Roma people, an increase by 15.6% from the census results for the Roma population in 2002. Roma represent 3.2% of the total resident population and it is relatively uniformly distributed throughout the country. The Roma population registers relatively high percentages in the following counties: Calarasi (8.1%), Mures (8.8%), Salaj (6.9%), Bihor (6.1%). The Hungarian minority has a majority in the counties of Harghita (84.8%) and Covasna (73,6%). According to different estimations, the number of Roma in Romania is between 1, 5 – 2, 5 million persons, around 10% of the total population. The difference between the data registered in the census and the estimates made in various reports is because Roma do not declare their identity as a consequence of the fear accumulated throughout the history (deportations, pogroms, actions that happened during the Second World War), and also because of the process of assimilation in the communist period, when even the use of the Romani language was forbidden.
Reports show that Roma children are still discriminated against in the schools they attend and that they represent the most segregated ethnic group in schools. According to a research report aiming at analysing schools with Roma ethnics in order to reveal the correlations between the students’ ethnicity and the quality of the education provided, “highly discriminatory perceptions and attitudes towards Roma children” persist in schools. The study also shows that the teacher’s discriminatory attitude “is a major bottleneck for the educational process” and that teachers tending to blame Roma students for their lower academic performance “risk to ignore the need for them to change their own teaching methods, the teaching approach or attitude towards students.” The same study mentions that in Romania three types of segregation can affect the Roma children: de jure segregation, as a consequence of local or national government’s decisions, de facto or residential segregation, as a result of the overrepresentation of an ethnic group in a certain geographical area and academic segregation resulting from children’s separation based on their performance, which is quite high in the case of the Roma children because of their multiple vulnerabilities, such as low socioeconomic background, belonging to a minority group, etc.
The NGO Romani CRISS monitored the situation of the Roma children in several schools from different counties. In 2010 they concluded that “Roma children continue to be segregated in schools for children with mental handicaps, in separate schools or in separate classrooms. Schools inspectorates or educational units deny the existence of segregation cases against Roma children”. The NGO also noted that in cases filed with the NCCD, the equality body found that the separation of the Roma children at school (segregation, displacement in special schools or in separate classrooms) is a form of discrimination, but the process of solving the complaints was very slow, in cases where segregation was found the NCCD did not apply sanctions and the measures disposed in the NCCD decisions to schools authorities were only recommendations, which are ineffective and with limited impact.
Amnesty International report on housing drafted in 2011 shows that the Romanian legal framework regarding housing is not adequate and disadvantages Roma. It maintains that Roma persons are still discriminated against both by the public officials and the society in general. The deficient legislation, which does not reflect international human rights standards and the persistency of discrimination have resulted in forced evictions and relocation of Roma families and communities next to garbage dumps, sewage treatment plants, or industrial areas on the outskirts of cities without access to basic facilities. An UNDP survey conducted in 2011 in twelve European countries reveals that the most significant gap between Roma and non-Roma households lacking access to several housing facilities (e.g. to improved sanitary services and water sources, reliable electricity and energy services) but also living in insecure housing conditions (e.g. ruined houses) was registered in Romania. The high percentage of the lack of access of these households to improved water sources (72%) and to improved sanitary facilities (78%) also puts things in context. The study analysed also the respondents’ experiences regarding discrimination encountered in the previous 5 years in the field of housing. 31% of the Romanian respondents alleged that they were discriminated against on the ground of Roma ethnicity.
A segregation case of Roma children in a hospital was documented by NGOs and claimed at the competent institutions (NCCD, Ministry of Health and local authorities). However, the NCCD did not find discrimination in the case. Romani CRISS also monitored cases regarding the access to medical services and reported that “medical care granted to Roma persons is scarce and judiciary investigations are precarious when it comes to Roma patients.”
In 2009 and 2011, the NGOs Romani CRISS, TRUST Association and Romano Suno monitored cases of access to public places (clubs and bars) of young Roma persons using situation testing in several clubs of Bucuresti, Craiova, Cluj-Napoca, and Dorohoi. The NGOs stated that places open to the public are still restrictive in respect of young Roma, invoking lack of admission card, private event, lack of invitation, etc. At the same time, access was granted to non-Roma youngsters, without invoking the reasons mentioned above for Roma.
The NGO Romani CRISS has monitored cases regarding abuse of law enforcement officials against Roma persons and argued that, in the majority of cases, the physical or verbal abuse is linked to the ethnic belonging of the persons and that the number of police officers and rapid intervention forces are not proportional with the complexity of cases or the number of people involved. The NGO also reported that the prosecution authorities did not ensure effective, impartial, prompt and racially neutral investigations and the judicial authorities usually dismissed the cases. Although Romania was condemned by the ECtHR in several cases regarding Roma victims, according to Romani CRISS, the police and the rapid intervention forces continued to carry out their duties improperly against Roma and the prosecution authorities did not investigate the cases including Roma victims in compliance with the standards set by the ECtHR.
Hate speech with regards to different minority groups, especially Roma, has increased exponentially in the past years in Romania. Stereotypes and prejudice are promoted by a part of the media, in some cases surpassing the limits of exercising the right to freedom of expression, violating the dignity of the Roma community and the right to non-discrimination. Also, political representatives in their discourses, when it comes to the Roma community, do not take into account that the right to freedom of expression is not absolute and that they have also responsibilities in not forwarding discourses that incite to hatred and promote intolerance. According to Romani CRISS, cases regarding the violation of the right to human dignity by political representatives or public persons brought before the Romanian courts by the NGO on behalf of the Roma community were generally dismissed.
Duminică, G., Ivasiuc, A., One school for all? : access to quality education for roma children: research report, 2010, pp.32, available at http://www.unicef.org/romania/One_school_for_all_pt_WEB.pdf. The research analysed qualitative and quantitative data collected in the period April 2009 - May 2010 from the following sources: 100 educational establishments attended by Roma children from 70 communities (77 schools and 23 kindergartens); 85 interviews with school principals (or their delegated staff) and 104 interviews with teachers; 25 school mediators identified in the researched communities; 772 parents of school-aged children and 763 school-aged children. However, the authors notice that the researched educational establishments are not “a national representative sample and they are representative only for compact Roma communities with low socio-economic levels”.
 Roma NGO, Romani CRISS, is carrying out national wide activities for combating and preventing racial discrimination against Roma, including legal aid for Roma persons and their legal representation before the National Council for Combating Discrimination (NCCD) and/ or before the civil and criminal courts of law, as well as the European Court of Human Rights. According to the interviewed representative of Romani CRISS, the NGO has been working on identifying and documenting cases of discrimination in Roma communities for many years, particularly and systematically since 2000. In 2002 they created and trained a network of local monitors for combating discrimination against the Roma. The monitors are Roma ethnics coming from local communities. Through the network, the NGO manages to reach local communities, to identify correctly and document cases of discrimination, abuse and violence, as well as to promote its legal aid services and to train and assist local communities. The NGO’s legal services are also promoted by other Roma or human rights NGOs, or professionals from local authorities. Since 2010 a “legal clinic” is functioning within the NGO which provides pro bono legal services for members of Roma communities, including assistance in writing a claim, directing the claimants to the competent institutions, drafting petitions, even if their subject does not regard situations of discrimination, etc. Furthermore, information materials on the right to non-discrimination and managing situations of discrimination, as well as on documenting, monitoring of and litigation in cases of discrimination and violation of human rights were published and promoted by the NGO. Through all these means described above, the NGO managed to document over 250 cases, including cases in which petitions were not filed or which were already finalized, but also the active ones (around 100 at present).
 RomaniCriss, The implementation of human rights. From discrimination against Roma to law enforcement abuses [2008-2009], updated report 2010 (Drepturile omului în practică. De la discriminarea romilor la abuz al responsabililor cu aplicarea legii [2008-2009], Raport actualizat ), Romanian edition, p.9.
 Amnesty International, Mind the legal gap. Roma and the right to housing in Romania, 2011, available at: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/EUR39/004/2011
 UNDP, The housing situation of Roma communities, Analysis of the UNDP/World Bank/EC regional survey data. Policy brief. 2011, Tatjana Peric, available at http://www.logincee.org/file/25815/library
 Romani CRISS, Press release: Segregation of Roma children in hospitals: challenged for the first time in Romania, 21 December 2011, available in Romanian at:
 See Romani Criss, The implementation of human rights. From discrimination against Roma to law enforcement abuses [2008-2009], updated report 2010, Romanian edition, pp. 72-73.
 See Center for Legal Resources, Submission of the CLR to the 15th session of the UPR, p. 3, available at http://www.crj.ro/*articleID_1161-articles
Access to justice of Roma women in Romania
In Romania, there is no data about the access to justice of Roma women, however previous research regarding access to justice of vulnerable communities indicate that in Romania vulnerable categories have limited access to justice in some cases due to discrimination, bias and prejudice within the judiciary.
Existing data point to the fact that Roma communities face particular obstacles in their access to justice related to the lack of identity documents, low level of education, their low level of knowledge about the judiciary, the legal proceedings, as well as the lack of trust in the state institutions and the judiciary, and equally their low level of income and affordability of Court fees and taxes, or in some case the lack of necessary documentation (e.g. id or other related documents).
While the legal framework in Romania adequately addresses the subject matter of legal aid in accordance with the Romanian Constitution guaranteeing free access to justice, the effectiveness of the legal framework is in question as there is no disaggregated data on vulnerable groups benefiting from legal aid. As such, court fees and taxes are rather prohibitive for the general public in Romania and particularly for the vulnerable categories who cannot afford costs including for legal representation. The new codes (civil, penal and procedural codes) had a negative impact on procedures, length of trial, delayed hearings, appeals etc. The level of awareness of the general public in regard to new codes is rather limited and has impact on their access to justice.
The fees offered by the state for ex officio lawyers are symbolic and do not reflect the proportion of legal work provided by the lawyer. This situation discourages the lawyer to provide a quality service for the client. In some situations the ex officio lawyer is not provided by the Courts the opportunity to offer a consistent and quality legal representation (e.g. the proper time for consulting with the client, for consulting the case file, for preparing the defence in the case etc.).
There are policy issues related to financial obstacles some such as budgetary allocations by the Ministry of Justice whereby there is no distinct line related to free legal aid. Only approximately 20% of the total legal aid cases relate to civil law matters on the basis of requests and granted by the Courts or by the Bar according to the criteria’s provided by the law. The main problem in accessing free legal aid relates to the threshold set by the law on public legal aid.
Data indicate that there is a low level of awareness about discrimination (e.g. both generally and in particular related to vulnerable groups) among Court representatives. The available training for the judiciary have a limited outreach despite positive initiatives of the National Institute for Magistrates or NGOs. Few magistrates and even fewer lawyers have participated in human rights trainings and the number of trainings offered by the NIM is insufficient considering existing needs. The lack of information and trust in the justice system feeds the overall mentality particularly in small communities that the police, the judiciary, the Court and the prosecutor are in tied connection. This has a significant impact on vulnerable categories preventing them from complaining against rights violations and to seek redress from justice. As a result, vulnerable groups such as Roma believe that even if victims would complain nothing will happen.
According to the NCCD report on the implementation of the Racial Directive (Council Directive 2000/43/CE) in the period 2003-2010, out of the 823 petitions filed with the NCCD which concerned ethnic or racial discrimination, in 129 cases violation of the Anti-discrimination Law was found (approx. 16,5 % of the petitions). Out of the 129 cases covered by the Directive (on the ground of race or ethnic origin) in which the NCCD found various forms of discrimination, 97 regarded Roma. The subdivision of the cases showing the exact number of the different forms of discrimination found was made in relation to all the 129 cases. However, the numbers show that in the majority of the cases direct discrimination was found (68), the rest of the cases regarded indirect discrimination (8), instruction to discriminate (7), multiple discrimination (9) and active or passive behaviour which unreasonably disadvantages a group of persons or prejudice dignity (20). As far as the violated rights are concerned, according to the representative of Romani CRISS interviewed, the more often violated rights reported by Roma regarding discrimination are: the right to property, the right to housing, free access to public places (bars, discos, even to gym), and the right to human dignity. The most frequent violated rights in cases before the NCCD were: the right to human dignity, the right to free access to public places and the right to housing (including ex officio cases).
According to a poll conducted on a nationally representative sample for the Roma population over 18 years, commissioned by the NGO Romani CRISS, 7 of 10 respondents (71%) perceive they are discriminated against most acutely in the field of employment. Two-thirds of respondents (66%) felt much and very much discriminated against in public places. Three out of five respondents consider that Roma are discriminated against much and very much in the following situations: in accessing public services (56%), health services (59%), legal services (58%), in school (63 %) and at work (62%). According to the NGO Romani CRISS (Romani Center for Social Intervention and Studies) which defends and promotes the rights of Roma in Romania, the major fields where their assistance was claimed by Roma ethnics regarding discrimination were: access to education, access to housing and access to healthcare. But the most frequent cases regarded the abuse of the law enforcement officials. According to the president of the NCCD, in cases filed with the NCCD, discrimination of Roma occurred mostly in the fields of human dignity, access to education, access to healthcare, access to public places and only a very few cases regarded access of Roma to employment.
 EEA/Norway Grants and the Ministry of Justice Romania, report on Access to Justice for vulnerable groups, 2014
 EEA/Norway Grants and the Ministry of Justice Romania, report on Access to Justice for vulnerable groups, 2014
 Report available at: http://www.cncd.org.ro/files/file/Raport%20D43_2000_CNCD_final.pdf
 Totem Communication, Stereotypes, prejudices and ethnic discrimination: The perspective of Roma (Stereotipuri, prejudecăți și discriminarea etnică: perspectiva romilor), Romani CRISS, 2011, p 21, available at: http://www.romanicriss.org/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1653:stereotipuri-prejudecati-si-discriminare-etnica-perspectiva-romilor-2011&catid=96:studies-and-research&Itemid=400. This quantitative research was conducted on a nationally representative sample for the Roma population over 18 years of 607 subjects and has a ±4 % error of sampling for an interval of trust of 95%.
Communities: Calarasi, Soldanu, Curcani, Budesti, Vasilati, Galbinasi, Nana, Frumusani, Oltenita, Chiselet, Dor Marunt, Manastirea, Mitreni, Sarulesti, Ulmeni (Calarasi County); Bucharest
- The JUSTROM2 launch event took place on 4 June 2018 at the Representation of the European Commission in Romaina.
Awareness-raising gatherings with Roma women
20 awareness-gatherings for Roma women are foreseen. These gatherings touch upon different topics of relevance to the target communities, such as the role of human rights institutions, domestic violence, discrimination, relevant services available, among others. They aim at informing and empowering Roma women to claim their rights and make use of existing services.
See here for more information on awarenes-raising gatherings
Info days with municipalities
20 September 2018 in Curcani, Calarasi county
- This session provided a chance for vice mayor for social issues and economy to meet with representatives of the Roma community. Topics such as early marriages and school drop-outs were touched upon.
21 September 2018 at the City all of Sector 6 in Bucharest
- Representatives from the municipality met with members of the Roma community in sector 6 and discussed issues regarding different administrative procedures
- 20 participants in total, out of which 13 were women