The 2016 report on human rights in Romania released by the U.S. State Department earlier this month documented the country’s struggle with systematic corruption.
“Conflicts of interest, disrespect for standards of ethical conduct, and general improbity in public office remained problems in all three branches of government,” it said.
Despite issues with corruption, the report claimed that “officials, including judges, sometimes engaged in corrupt practices with impunity” and “police were frequently exonerated of allegations of beatings” and other violations.
By October 31, 2016 Romania’s National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) had investigated 676 defendants while only 264 final convictions were issued.
Public access to information was limited as “parliament often wrote and passed laws in a nontransparent manner, and the government continued to pass a large number of emergency ordinances,” the report said.
In 2017, one of those emergency ordinances led hundreds of thousands of Romanians to take to the street in defiance of their government’s corruption.
The government’s failure to provide the physical and human resources necessary for the courts to function efficiently has resulted in “excessively long trails” in Romania.
A DNA indictment of Mayor Lia Vasilescu for using her powers to pressure business executives to back her political campaign is still pending after courts “rejected subsequent requests by the DNA for judicial supervision,” the report said.
It also says that “verdicts in corruption cases were often inconsistent, with sentences varying widely for similar offenses.”
Reports from nongovernmental organizations and media complained of police harassment and abuse of pretrial detainees.
Attacks on the press and journalists
Politicians and their associates own or control multiple media outlets in the country.
“The tone of these outlets frequently reflected the views of the owners” who “suppressed stories at odds with their interests or threatened the authors of such stories,” the report said.
The report added that “politicians and citizens sometimes insulted or harassed journalists” and that the independence of the print and broadcast media was often restricted.