Word Count: 1087
There’s been a number of stories about Romania that I haven’t had time to cover here in my long absence: Romanian party leaders being arrested/investigated for corruption, the President continuing to prove he’s a worthless crook, people dying due to corruption and incompetence, more economic failures and nonsense related to the budget, scandals and resignations, further embracing the role as America’s compliant whelp, and more instances of the government in Romania further encroaching upon the remaining fragile liberties of the people.
But out of all of them, this one is the worst. It’s a rather benign document, as far as these things go, wherein the most hypocritical nation on Earth yearly deigns to lecture other countries on their “human rights”.
Romania is a very compliant ally and so it’s mostly a whitewash job so as not to upset the delicate balance of control. Even so, a few horrors managed to slip through.
There is something truly wrong with Romania’s police system:
Major human rights problems included police and gendarme mistreatment and harassment of detainees.
The constitution and law prohibit such practices [torture and cruel and inhumane treatment], but there were reports from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the media that police and gendarmes mistreated and abused prisoners, pretrial detainees… and other citizens, primarily through the use of excessive force, including beatings. In most cases the police officers involved were exonerated.
Yes, let’s beat up people who aren’t even convicted of a crime yet. Very progressive.
rison conditions remained harsh and did not meet international standards. The abuse of prisoners by authorities and other prisoners reportedly continued to be a problem.
Physical Conditions: According to official figures, overcrowding was a problem, and some prisons did not meet the standard of 43 square feet per prisoner, as set by the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture.
And this, by far the worst bit:
According to a report by the National Administration of Penitentiaries, 502 persons died in prisons in between 2010 and 2014, of whom 425 died due to medical conditions, 73 committed suicide, three were killed, and one died from choking on food.
It sounds so bland when you put it that way. Ho hum, some 502 people died in jail. But why are so many people dying in jail from “medical conditions”? And why so many suicides?
502 deaths in four years is about 125 people per year, meaning 1 person dies every 3 days in a Romanian jail. That is bad, as in really, really bad.
It’s not just me and the State Department which has noticed this. Romania is in very last place amongst EU countries in the number of adverse rulings at the European Court of Human Rights (CEDO in Romanian), and almost all the cases involved are concerning the mistreatment and torture of people in jail.
And the Romanian government’s reaction? Exonerate the officers, prosecutors, jailers and judges, pass the blame, and fail to pay damages awarded by the court to the victims of this medieval system of jails, prisons and “pretrial detention centers” (actually just spare rooms in the police station with no facilities for properly housing people).
The Serpent Most Subtil
While beatings, torture and allowing people to die at an unprecedented rate in jail certainly deserves a lot of attention, it’s this small little nugget in the State Department report which I think goes a long way towards explaining what’s truly wrong with Romania:
As of September 1 , there were 53 women in the 383-seat Chamber of Deputies and 12 women in the 167-seat Senate.
In other words, there are 65 women in a parliament of 550 people, meaning approximately 90% of the people making the laws of the land are men. Clearly, this is not much of a representative democracy.
But here’s what’s even scarier:
A law passed in May requires political parties to register with the Bucharest Tribunal and to submit their statutes, program, and a roster of at least three members. Prior to adoption of the law, authorities required political parties to have at least 25,000 members to obtain legal status.
Even on a good day, there are only about 8 million Romanian citizens voting, so requiring that a political party have a minimum of 25,000 members is one heck of a hurdle to overcome.
Think about it this way: how many private businesses in Romania have 25,000 or more employees? Almost none. Now imagine that only these companies were allowed to sell goods in Romania.
I realize that the State Department report is welcoming the fact that the law has changed (for the better!) but think about the enormous damage this has caused. If only big parties are allowed, only a few big parties will dominate. And big parties encourage cronyism, nepotism, and corruption, to say nothing of the exclusion of minority opinions, ideas and points of views.
What’s even weirder is that I distinctly remember the parliamentary elections of 1990. Does anyone else remember that? When dozens of different parties were allowed to run? I mean seriously, when is the last time the Turkish Union of Muslims was on the ballot in a Romanian election?
Last Verse, Same As The First
Sometimes I truly think that the Romanian Revolution began in December 1989 and ended in June 1990 with the Mineriad, a six-month gasp of freedom before collapsing right back into the way things always were.
Just consider the evidence:
- Iliescu is a free man and is not facing any indictments or prosecutions.
- The police are still running secret prisons where inmates are beaten, tortured, and killed.
- Incompetence in government isn’t a bug, it’s a feature.
- The secret police (now called SRI) is more powerful and active than ever, and still loves to spy on the common people.
- Looting the state for private gain is more often rewarded than punished.
- There’s a parliament/congress, but it damn sure isn’t representing the people.
- The solution to popular unrest is more propaganda instead of genuine reforms.
- The government is still manipulating and controlling the state-run media (while simultaneously running it into the ground).
- Nobody from the old regime has ever been punished, and most of the worst guys still hold positions of power.
- Prosecutors and the judicial system “magically” convict 90% or more of the people suspected of having committed a crime.
Sometimes people get confused by my love of Romania so I’ll explain it this way: I love the Romanian people, its culture, its music, its food, and its traditions but Romanians’ ability to govern effectively, freely and with respect for people is about as bad as it is possible to get.