ERRC Presses for Reform of Romanian National Council for Combating Discrimination
3 April 2006
On 25 November 2005, the ERRC sent a letter to Romanian Prime Minister Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, urging him to consider a series of recommendations related to the reform of the national anti-discrimination body, the National Council for Combating Discrimination (NCCD). The recommendations included in the letter are based on ERRC expertise in EU and international anti-discrimination law matters, as well as on direct experience with the Council, as a result of supporting a number of Romani victims of discrimination in filing complaints with the Council in recent years. The letter provides details of the fate of one such complaint, decided upon recently by the Council, which illustrates a number of the shortcomings of the Council's present mode of operations.
The letter highlights a number of weaknesses related to the Council's current mandate, status and practice, such as excessive length of the investigations; inability of the NCCD staff to recognize clear instances of discrimination; lack of transparency of the investigations undertaken by the NCCD; and inability to provide meaningful redress to victims of discrimination. The letter continued in stating that these issues are related to more fundamental deficiencies that undermine the activity of the NCCD, such as the lack of independence from the executive arm of the government and the lack of sufficient resources and staff.
The letter concluded in providing six recommendations to Prime Minister Calin Popescu- Tariceanu regarding measures that should be taken to render the NCCD more effective:
- The NCCD should be granted real independence from other state bodies, especially from the executive arm of the government, to which it is presently subordinated. In this context, the ERRC supports the proposal put forward by members of civil society that the Council be placed under parliamentary supervision.
- Appointment of members of the board should reflect the independent mandate of the NCCD. The selection process should involve representatives of NGOs, trade unions, social workers and journalists.
- The NCCD should be given the power to apply a wider range of sanctions aimed at achieving, to the largest extent possible, â€restitutio in integrum' for victims of discrimination.
- Legal aid should be provided to victims of discrimination, in conformity with Article 13(2) of the Race Equality Directive and Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The practical modality in which this is achieved should not, however, endanger the neutrality and/or impartiality of the NCCD.
- The six months time that the NCCD has at its disposal for investigating and sanctioning the complaints brought to its attention should be extended.
- Sufficient staffing and adequate resources should be allocated to the NCCD under parliamentary supervision so that it is able to fulfil its mandate. Regionally based branches of the NCCD should be established, to ensure greater efficacy in undertaking its work. To view the full text of the letter, see: http://www.errc.org/cikk.php?cikk=2422.