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Romanian Ombudsman – National Human Rights Institution

 

By the Law no. 9/2018 amending Law no. 35/1997 on the organization and functioning of the People's Advocate institution, published in the Official Gazette on January 8, 2018, a new article was introduced, which states the commitment of the Romanian state to ensure the full compliance of the People's Advocate with the Paris Principles. The text of the law has the following content: "(11) The People's Advocate Institution is a national institution for the promotion and protection of human rights, within the meaning established by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 48/134 of 20 December 1993, adopting the Paris Principles." 

 

 

PRINCIPLES RELATING TO THE STATUS OF NATIONAL INSTITUTIONS (THE PARIS PRINCIPLES)


Adopted by General Assembly resolution 48/134 of 20 December 1993

Competence and responsibilities

1. A national institution shall be vested with competence to promote and protect human rights.

2. A national institution shall be given as broad a mandate as possible, which shall be clearly set forth in a constitutional or legislative text, specifying its composition and its sphere of competence.

3. A national institution shall, inter alia, have the following responsibilities:

(a) To submit to the Government, Parliament and any other competent body, on an advisory basis either at the request of the authorities concerned or through the exercise of its power to hear a matter without higher referral, opinions, recommendations, proposals and reports on any matters concerning the promotion and protection of human rights; the national institution may decide to publicize them; these opinions, recommendations, proposals and reports, as well as any prerogative of the national institution, shall relate to the following areas:

(i) Any legislative or administrative provisions, as well as provisions relating to judicial organizations, intended to preserve and extend the protection of human rights; in that connection, the national institution shall examine the legislation and administrative provisions in force, as well as bills and proposals, and shall make such recommendations as it deems appropriate in order to ensure that these provisions conform to the fundamental principles of human rights; it shall, if necessary, recommend the adoption of new legislation, the amendment of legislation in force and the adoption or amendment of administrative measures;

(ii) Any situation of violation of human rights which it decides to take up;

(iii) The preparation of reports on the national situation with regard to human rights in general, and on more specific matters;

(iv) Drawing the attention of the Government to situations in any part of the country where human rights are violated and making proposals to it for initiatives to put an end to such situations and, where necessary, expressing an opinion on the positions and reactions of the Government;

(b) To promote and ensure the harmonization of national legislation, regulations and practices with the international human rights instruments to which the State is a party, and their effective implementation;

(c) To encourage ratification of the above-mentioned instruments or accession to those instruments, and to ensure their implementation;

(d) To contribute to the reports which States are required to submit to United Nations bodies and committees, and to regional institutions, pursuant to their treaty obligations and, where necessary, to express an opinion on the subject, with due respect for their independence;

(e) To cooperate with the United Nations and any other orgnization in the United Nations system, the regional institutions and the national institutions of other countries that are competent in the areas of the protection and promotion of human rights;

(f) To assist in the formulation of programmes for the teaching of, and research into, human rights and to take part in their execution in schools, universities and professional circles;

(g) To publicize human rights and efforts to combat all forms of discrimination, in particular racial discrimination, by increasing public awareness, especially through information and education and by making use of all press organs.

Composition and guarantees of independence and pluralism

1. The composition of the national institution and the appointment of its members, whether by means of an election or otherwise, shall be established in accordance with a procedure which affords all necessary guarantees to ensure the pluralist representation of the social forces (of civilian society) involved in the protection and promotion of human rights, particularly by powers which will enable effective cooperation to be established with, or through the presence of, representatives of:

(a) Non-governmental organizations responsible for human rights and efforts to combat racial discrimination, trade unions, concerned social and professional organizations, for example, associations of lawyers, doctors, journalists and eminent scientists;

(b) Trends in philosophical or religious thought;

(c) Universities and qualified experts;

(d) Parliament;

(e) Government departments (if these are included, their representatives should participate in the deliberations only in an advisory capacity).

2. The national institution shall have an infrastructure which is suited to the smooth conduct of its activities, in particular adequate funding. The purpose of this funding should be to enable it to have its own staff and premises, in order to be independent of the Government and not be subject to financial control which might affect its independence.

3. In order to ensure a stable mandate for the members of the national institution, without which there can be no real independence, their appointment shall be effected by an official act which shall establish the specific duration of the mandate. This mandate may be renewable, provided that the pluralism of the institution's membership is ensured.

Methods of operation

Within the framework of its operation, the national institution shall:

(a) Freely consider any questions falling within its competence, whether they are submitted by the Government or taken up by it without referral to a higher authority, on the proposal of its members or of any petitioner,

(b) Hear any person and obtain any information and any documents necessary for assessing situations falling within its competence;

(c) Address public opinion directly or through any press organ, particularly in order to publicize its opinions and recommendations;

(d) Meet on a regular basis and whenever necessary in the presence of all its members after they have been duly concerned;

(e) Establish working groups from among its members as necessary, and set up local or regional sections to assist it in discharging its functions;

(f) Maintain consultation with the other bodies, whether jurisdictional or otherwise, responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights (in particular, ombudsmen, mediators and similar institutions);

(g) In view of the fundamental role played by the non-governmental organizations in expanding the work of the national institutions, develop relations with the non-governmental organizations devoted to promoting and protecting human rights, to economic and social development, to combating racism, to protecting particularly vulnerable groups (especially children, migrant workers, refugees, physically and mentally disabled persons) or to specialized areas.

Additional principles concerning the status of commissions with quasi-jurisdictional competence

A national institution may be authorized to hear and consider complaints and petitions concerning individual situations. Cases may be brought before it by individuals, their representatives, third parties, non-governmental organizations, associations of trade unions or any other representative organizations. In such circumstances, and without prejudice to the principles stated above concerning the other powers of the commissions, the functions entrusted to them may be based on the following principles:

(a) Seeking an amicable settlement through conciliation or, within the limits prescribed by the law, through binding decisions or, where necessary, on the basis of confidentiality;

(b) Informing the party who filed the petition of his rights, in particular the remedies available to him, and promoting his access to them;

(c) Hearing any complaints or petitions or transmitting them to any other competent authority within the limits prescribed by the law;

 

(d) Making recommendations to the competent authorities, especially by proposing amendments or reforms of the laws, regulations and administrative practices, especially if they have created the difficulties encountered by the persons filing the petitions in order to assert their rights.

 

 

OMBUDSMAN FOR CHILDREN

 

By the Law no. 9/2018 was established the Child's Advocate, structure coordinated by a Deputy of the People’s Advocate, appointed for a term of 5 years by the Standing Bureaus of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, at the proposal of the People's Advocate, with the opinion of the legal committees of the two Chambers of Parliament.

The Child’s Advocate, under the coordination of the People’s Advocate, acts to promote and protect the rights of children under the age of 18, supports and encourages the observance and promotion of children's rights under the present law, respectively the Law no. 272/2004 on the protection and promotion of children's rights, republished, as subsequently amended and supplemented and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In fulfilling the mandate specific to the Field on the protection and promotion of children’s rights, the Child’s Advocate fulfils the following duties:

a) Solves the individual complaints made by the children or their representatives, referring to the actions of the public institutions in the field of health, education, special protection of the child, or institutions which apply custodial and non-custodial measures provided by the Law no. 286/2009 on the Criminal Code, as subsequently amended and supplemented, regarding the criminal liability of minors, as well as any other institutions which carry out activities which are covered by the mandate of the Field on the protection and promotion of children’s rights; 

b) Solves any complaint in relation to the violation of one or more rights of the child;

c) Promotes child's rights among children and adults;

d) Collaborates with the formal structures of the children and, if he/she deems it necessary, may refer the matter to the competent authorities;

e) Formulates proposals for measures aimed at encouraging the participation of children in decision-making concerning them;

f) Develops studies on the exercise and observance of children's rights and recommends, where appropriate, measures to respect the rights of the child, at the level of public polices and at legislative level, also through the preparation of special reports;

g) Carries out unannounced visits, either ex officio or on request, together with the representatives of the National Prevention Mechanism against torture in places of detention, to the educational or detention centres where minors are deprived of liberty according to the Law no. 286/2009, as subsequently amended and supplemented, regarding the criminal liability of minors, to the persons responsible for the supervision and guidance of the minors who are executing non-custodial measures provided by Law no. 286/2009, with the subsequent amendments and supplements, regarding the criminal liability of minors, at foster care centres, family-type dwellings, maternity care and family placement where the minor is placed as a special protection measure provided by Law no. 272/2004, republished, with the subsequent amendments and supplements, to the extended family, as well as to the children's hospitals; 

h) Immediately notifies, ex officio or upon request, the criminal prosecution bodies when he/she finds clues of the commission of criminal offenses against children.

Moreover, the People’s Advocate may file a lawsuit or a criminal complaint and may represent the minor before the court when he/she has been the victim of physical violence or psychological abuse by his/her parents, legal guardian or representative, or of abuse, violence and sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, trafficking in human beings, neglect and exploitation, as well as any form of violence against the child, provided and sanctioned by the domestic and international legislation to which Romania is a state party.

 

 

Territorial Offices