APADOR-CH and ActiveWatch require the dismissal of the Interior Minister for the abuses committed at Pungeşti
One of the statements that led to the adoption, in 1948, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was that it was“essential for human rights to be protected by the rule of law, so that men are not forced to use revolt as an extreme solution against tyranny and abuse” . Today, 65 years after that historical decision, Romania marks December 10, the International Human Rights Day, by a series of abuses, committed by law enforcement troops in order to prevent Romanian citizens to exercise some of their fundamental rights: freedom of expression, and freedom of peaceful assembly (articles 19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Two days ago, the minister of interior created a “special public safety area” in the village of Pungeşti and ordered his troops to protect the area where the representatives of Chevron Company performed explorations in view of shale gas extractions by hydraulic fracturing.
APADOR-CH and ActiveWatch consider that the Ministry of Interior has created this special area based on an abusive interpretation of Order no. 60/ 2010 on the organization and enforcement of public order and safety activities (an incomplete normative act, by the way, since it fails to stipulate what steps can be taken by the authorities in such situations). Article 12 of the Order provides: “(2) A special public safety area may be created when a criminal phenomenon – such as violence, drug dealing and abuse, prostitution etc – is concentrated in a small space. (3) When the causes which determined the creation of the special public safety area are removed, the special measures cease”.
Order no 60/2010 is in fact a blank cheque given by MoI chiefs to the gendarmes, allowing them to take arbitrary measures for the so-called “security” of the area, by intimidating the locals or people in transit and brutalizing the protesters.
This Order, like Law no. 61/1991 on public gatherings and like some provisions of the laws of Police and Gendarmerie, allow law enforcement institutions in Romania to harass protesters, intimidating citizens who would like to express their opposition to the decisions of the authorities.
APADOR-CH and ActiveWatch have launched repeated warnings and have taken legal steps for the amendment of the laws cited above, so as to bring them to date with the times we live, but to no avail. The recent incidents at Pungeşti are one more proof that the laws regulating the right of citizens to protest and express themselves freely are inadequate.
Decisions that may impact upon a whole community cannot be taken without consulting that community and cannot be enforced by the gendarmes/police, by launching criminal investigations against protesters. Public authorities need to rely on the force of arguments, not on the sheer force of the intervention squads . To that end, the authorities must enable, in good faith, a genuine debate regarding the effects administrative decisions will have upon the community and to change those decisions taking into account the requests and problems of the community – with one problem being lack of trust for the authorities. The superior administrative position of political decision-makers must not replace truth and debates. Otherwise, there is a real risk of revolt, as an extreme solution against injustice.
APADOR-CH warns the Parliament to take into account the necessity to amend the cited laws. The Association asks the Government to dismiss the Ministry of Interior chiefs, responsible with the illegal actions taken by the police and gendarmes in the village of Pungeşti for over one week.
Human Rights Day is celebrated all over the world on December 10. The day was chosen to honor the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the UN General Assembly, on December 10, 1948.
ActiveWatch – the Press Monitoring Agency
Executive director, APADOR-CH