Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1986

Romania is a highly centralized Communist state. The Romanian
Communist Party, led since 1965 by President Nicolae Ceausescu,
is described by the Constitution as "the leading political
force in the whole of society." Through the Government, the
party seeks to control every significant aspect of the
country's life. In practice, the bureaucratic system leaves
varying degrees of latitude to local officials to carry out
central directives as well as to abuse their powers in
violation of constitutional rights. Almost all aspects of
life proceed within narrow bounds defined by the party and its
leader. Political dissent is not tolerated. Criticism of the
regime and its policies is suppressed by the ubiquitous
Department of State Security.
Maintaining its policy of repaying its foreign debt
obligations as soon as possible, Romania in 1986 continued to
make drastic efforts to increase productivity and conserve
energy and raw materials. Domestic shortages of consumer and
food items have continued to worsen, especially during the
winter months. Many basic foodstuffs are rationed, and meat
is largely unavailable. Mandatory energy conservation
measures result in many Romanian homes being without heat or
cooking gas for much of the winter .
In the area of human rights, major discrepancies exist between
generally accepted standards, for example as embodied in the
Helsinki Final Act of the Conference on Security and
Cooperation in Europe, and Romanian practice. Although
Romania is a signatory of the Final Act and the Romanian
Constitution guarantees many rights, the standards set in both
documents are not precise on many issues, so that the
guarantees are often meaningless in Romanian practice. The
party, through the Government, continues to limit and often
deny the right to free speech and free assembly and
association, and to apply restrictions to religious practice.
However, the Government has, within severely circumscribed
limits, moved to accommodate some human rights concerns.
In 1986 the Government acted on several longstanding human
rights issues. It agreed to permit the printing of some 5,000
Bibles for Baptist churches in Romania, with the promise of
more in subsequent years based on need. It declared an
amnesty in June for persons convicted of relatively minor
crimes and also released several longer-term prisoners
identified with issues of religious freedom and allowed them
to emigrate to the United States. American religious
travelers reported that they remained able to visit persons
and places of their choosing, although they or their contacts
subsequently have been questioned by the authorities. At the
same time, other aspects of the Government's treatment of
religious groups and the demolition of a number of places of
worship, including a major Jewish synagogue and a large
Seventh-Day Adventist church, in the name of urban
reconstruction, caused major concern.
In 1986 the Government continued its "principled opposition"
to emigration, discouraging individual cases by complicated,
slow-moving procedures and coercive tactics. Potential
emigrants often must wait several years before they receive
exit approval, although the hardships endured by such
intending emigrants have been reduced considerably by a 1985
U.S . -Romanian understanding on emigration procedures.
Departures for the United States, Israel, and the Federal
Republic of Germany in 1986 totaled 15,222, mainly under the
rxibric of family reunification. This figure represents a
decline from the 1985 total of 17,350.
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including
Freedom from:
a. Political Killing
There were no substantiated reports of political killings in
Romania during 1986. There were allegations that the death of
an ethnic Hungarian actor, Arpad Visky, was caused by the
security police, but there is other information contesting
this charge. At the same time, no Romanian investigation was
ever made public in the case of Gheorghe-Emil Ursu, a detainee
who died in November 1985 under unexplained circumstances.
Some sources claim the prisoner suffered beatings at the hands
of the police which led to his death. The available
information, though not definitive, appears to lend credence
to these reports.
b. Disappearance
There were no substantiated reports of politically motivated
disappearances. However, family and friends of persons
arrested on political charges are frequently left unaware of
their circumstances and location for long periods of time.
c. Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or
There were numerous reports of mistreatment of persons while
in Romanian prisons or police custody. Acts of violence
perpetrated by police authorities attempting to obtain
information are frequently reported. Romanian authorities
also use physical and mental degradation to intimidate those
caught or suspected of wrongdoing. Persons detained for
questioning are often held incommunicado and kept for long
periods without sleep, food, or toilet facilities. Numerous
reports say those caught attempting to leave the country
illegally, for example, are subject to extreme physical and
mental harassment, often prior to being given only relatively
light sentences if they are first offenders. Prisoners also
report that, in the case of those who have received long
sentences for political offenses, wives are sometimes
pressured to divorce their spouses.
Among numerous other reports of mistreatment, the most common
complaints concern cells which are badly ventilated and poorly
heated, bad food in extremely small quantities, difficult
working conditions, long periods of isolation, excessive use
of force by guards, overcrowding, and segregation of persons
deemed "dangerous to the State" because of religious belief or
for other reasons. Several prisoners reportedly have been
denied outside medical care or even the use of medicines
brought to their prison by family members. By law, some
Romanian convicts are not required to work; the State uses
this provision to keep some prisoners effectively in solitary
confinement, whereas others in this category, whom the State
does not wish to segregate, reportedly are made to sign
"voluntary" requests to be allowed to work.
d . Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
Persons detained for investigation often are held
incommunicado. Detention of varying duration, usually a
matter of hours, followed by release without charge, continues
to be widespread. Such arbitrary detention may be repeated
several times, with subjects called back for additional
lengthy interrogation and threatened with further harassment
or punishment for their actions. This treatment is
particularly common for those religious activists who are
detained. There is no provision for bail.
The scope of Romanian criminal law is broad enough to insure
that persons coming under official scrutiny may be convicted
of some offense. Examples of typical charges are "defaming
the Socialist order" for speaking frankly to a foreigner;
"disturbing the peace" or "illegal" assembly for private
prayer meetings in the home; "social parasitism" if unemployed
but technically guilty of no other offense; or "distributing
literature without a license" — a felony — if found attempting
to hand out f r ie Bibles. A June 1986 presidential decree
granted amnesty for certain offenses to most Romanians
sentenced to prison terms of less than 5 years and also
reduced longer sentences. This action freed a number of
persons imprisoned on relatively minor charges related to
their religious activities.
Exile is not a sanction under Romanian law, although there
have been cases of persons "temporarily exiled" by being taken
to a remote location and detained.
Romanian citizens are required to perform involuntary labor,
but for the most part this seems to fall within the area of
"civic obligations." The labor exactions are general
throughout the population. For example, a 1971 law, amended in
1985, requires up to 6 days' unpaid labor per year from each
citizen. The 1985 amendment, however, specifically provides
that additional tax payments can be substituted for days not
worked. Sanctions for nonperformance are light, and in many
jurisdictions the requirement for contributions of work (or
additional tax payments for days not worked) is apparently not
enforced. Students 11 years of age and older perform
"patriotic work" in agriculture or elsewhere, sometimes 8 to
10 hours daily for several weeks, especially during the
harvest. The Union of Communist Youth organizes "youth
brigades" for this purpose. Some religious groups reportedly
have been "encouraged" by local authorities to perform unpaid
labor in the fields on Sundays as a means of securing official
approval for church building permits or other benefits for
their congregations.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
Although Romanian law sets standards for proving guilt, in
practice an accused person often is considered guilty until
proven innocent. The ability of the accused to defend himself
effectively in a fair trial can be severely limited, especially
in politically sensitive cases. Although authorities
occasionally take pains to display an appearance of regard for
correct procedure and due process of law. Western observers
continue to gain the impression that being brought to trial in
Romania is in many cases an almost sure guarantee of
conviction. In 1986 there were clear cases of fabrication of
evidence and suborning and intimidation of witnesses by
prosecuting authorities, as well as of what appeared to be
violations of Romanian law regarding court procedures.
Defendants are often tried without counsel or are represented
by state-appointed attorneys whose role appears to be that of
apologizing for defendants' offenses. Members of the
judiciary, like other officials, are subject to the authority
of the Communist Party.
An example in 1986 of a trial which appeared politically
motivated was the case of loan Ruta. Shortly after Ruta, the
head of an enterprise employing 150 people, applied to join his
wife, who had elected to remain permanently in the United
States while on a business trip, he was charged with accepting
bribes. Observers found the evidence questionable and
inconclusive, with defense witnesses too intimidated to appear
in court. Ruta was convicted and sentenced to 7 years in
Most trials are held in public, though secret trials are
common where state security is involved and may also be
permitted in certain other cases. Foreign observers in 1986
continued to be able to attend public trials of high local or
international interest.
It is impossible accurately to estimate the number of
political prisoners in Romania, though the number could be
several thousand. This includes those convicted for
attempting to leave Romania illegally, "parasitism" (no
visible legal means of support), illegal economic activities,
and protesting against the political or social system.
f . Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or
Romanian laws and regulations governing the security apparatus
sanction a high degree of interference with the individual and
the family. The interference is somewhat mitigated by the
impossibility of total control, by uneven application of
regulations, and by official corruption.
Deliberate and arbitrary interference with the privacy of the
family, home, and correspondence is a frequent occurrence.
Searches are made of private homes, persons, and personal
effects without search warrants or probable cause that a crime
may have been committed. Militiamen at checkpoints located on
most roads leading out of the cities and at major highway
intersections in the countryside randomly stop and search
vehicles as a matter of course. Persons on tram cars and city
buses often are asked for identity documents and have shopping
bags and personal belongings checked by the authorities.
The authorities frequently enter homes on the pretext of
looking for building code violations, excessive consumption of
electricity, illegal use of electrical appliances, etc. These
searches facilitate the discovery of other items, such as
forbidden books and publications, religious materials, or any
other evidence of "wrongdoing."
Violation of privacy of the person also arises from the
antiabortion campaign. Mandatory pregnancy tests and physical
examinations take place bimonthly for many female workers in
order to insure that pregnancies are discovered and carried to
Complaints about interference with both domestic and
international correspondence continue. Letters to or from
persons of interest to the authorities often never arrive at
their destination. People have reportedly been questioned by
the security police about topics discussed in letters which
were delivered seemingly unopened. On other occasions, people
have been questioned about statements made in letters sent
abroad but never received by the addressees.
The Government has the capability to monitor domestic and
international telephone calls and appears to do so frequently.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
These freedoms are severely restricted. While the Constitution
guarantees freedom of speech and press, it prohibits their use
for any purpose "hostile to the Socialist system and the
interests of the working people," as defined by the State and
party. Similarly, the Penal Code prohibits "propaganda with a
Fascist (as defined by the State) character delivered in
public by any means ... (or )... the undertaking of any action for
the changing of the Socialist system...." It also prohibits
acts "which would result in a danger to state security;" these
offenses are punishable by prison terms of up to 15 years.
The Government seeks to control the domestic dissemination of
information in a variety of ways. Though official censorship
was abolished some years ago, all media are state owned,
rigidly controlled, and used primarily as the vehicle for
government and party propaganda. Western radio broadcasts in
the Romanian language are not jammed and are a major source of
both foreign and domestic news for the Romanian people.
Western publications are not generally available, although
foreign cultural centers and libraries are open to the public
and are allowed to distribute limited quantities of Western
periodicals. The unauthorized importation or distribution of
foreign publications is forbidden. In 1986 there were
frequent reports of confiscations of foreign-source materials,
including Hungarian language publications, at the border.
Romanian libraries carefully control access to "restricted"
materials such as prewar historical texts. For live theater,
official boards must approve all new productions before the
opening performance. Serial numbers and type-face samples of
all typewriters must be registered with the authorities, and
the use of duplicating machines is strictly regulated.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The Government attempts to control all group activity. No
organization independent of government or party influence is
permitted to exist. Peaceful assembly and association without
permission are usually short-lived and may bring severe
penalties to those involved. Citizens are strongly
discouraged from making contact with foreigners and are
required to obtain permission in advance to attend functions
held by non-Romanians. New decrees promulgated late in 1985
but never officially published (and often not obeyed) further
discourage contacts with foreigners and strengthen the
requirement that all such contacts be reported to the
authorities within 24 hours.
The Constitution guarantees the right to join a union. As
noted earlier, however, it also enshrines the Communist Party
as "the leading political force in the whole of society,"
which applies specifically with respect to labor unions and
Other "mass and public organizations." Trade unions
independent of the party are thus prohibited, and workers do
not have the right to form associations, elect
representatives, or affiliate with international organizations
except through the official unions.
Workers do not have the right to organize or bargain
collectively. While they nominally have a direct voice in the
management of the workplace through the unions that all must
join, in many factories the senior party official is also the
union's chief executive, and the primary function of the
unions is to channel party doctrine and directives to the
workers. Unions also dispense social benefits, such as
vacations at union-owned hotels (for which the member pays
only a fraction of the real cost), low-interest loans, and
access to cultural, educational, and other leisure activities.
Romania's labor code is silent on the right to strike, except
to elaborate procedures by which the union leadership is
required to mediate disputes between the workers and
management, with recourse to the courts where the dispute
cannot be settled. In practice, sanctions available to the
party and the union make it unlikely that such disputes would
reach the courts. In the past, the Government's reaction to
actual strikes, or to advocacy of the worker's right to
strike, has been harsh repression.
Brutal suppression of miners' strikes in the late 1970 's led
to a complaint by the World Federation of Labor and an
investigation by the International Labor Organization (ILO).
Inadequate responses, failure to respond further to charges,
and refusal to accept a direct-contact mission led the ILO to
find Romania substantially in violation of generally accepted
labor standards. In 1986 Romania reportedly resumed
discussions with the ILO, but no resolution of the matter has
been reached.
Work stoppages and labor unrest caused by dissatisfaction
about food shortages, pay, or lack of heat have increasingly
been reported. The institution of unrealistic production and
sales quotas and penalties in the form of salary deductions
for failure to meet them has increased worker dissatisfaction.
c. Freedom of Religion
Religious practice is active and widespread, yet closely
controlled and circumscribed by the Government. The
Government subsidizes some religious groups, but actions by
central and local authorities which abridge basic religious
rights are a continuing source of concern. The Communist
Party advocates atheism, and religious activism by state
officials and party members is not permitted.
Schoolchildren are taught to be wary of religious
"superstition." Newspapers and other party-controlled media
regularly portray religious believers as ignorant or backward.
Article 30 of the Constitution provides for "freedom of
conscience" for all citizens, with freedom for individuals to
share or not to share a religious belief and for churches to
"function freely," subject to laws governing church
organization and operation. Those who do not challenge the
limits imposed by the Government on church activities may
practice their religion quietly. With such "freedom" comes
the disadvantage that those who exercise it are less likely to
advance far in their trade or to enter such professions as law
or medicine.
The Government recognizes 14 religious denominations and,
through the Department of Religious Affairs, exercises broad
discretionary powers over the various religious groups. The
Government subsidizes clerical salaries (which some
denominations do not accept), issues licenses to preach,
approves permits for church construction or renovation,
establishes the number of new admissions to seminaries, and
controls the importation or printing of religious materials,
including Bibles. These powers often are used arbitrarily,
especially against groups that arouse official concern.
Government restrictions are aimed most intensely at groups
whose beliefs, in the Government's view, inspire "antisocial"
or " ant i -Government" behavior. Press articles periodically
criticize these groups for being "fanatic," or "antisocial,"
or for professing beliefs that conflict with Romanian law. In
recent times, however, the unrecognized religious groups have
been tolerated by the Government, although their worship
services occasionally are treated by local authorities as
"illegal assemblies," with the participants arrested or fined.
The rapid growth of the evangelical denominations has led to
pressures for more religious training, more printing of
religious materials, and the expansion and construction of
more churches. Conflicts between evangelical groups and the
authorities have arisen frequently, and the Goveriiment ' s
response has been harsh. Activists who are devout and vocal
are kept under surveillance and often are subject to loss of
jobs and social benefits, police intimidation or arrest, and
in some cases beatings.
The shortage of Protestant Bibles has led some Romanians to
risk harsh penalties and even imprisonment for smuggling them
into the country. In 1986, however, a number of imprisoned
religious activists were released. Constantin Sfatcu,
convicted in 1985 of attempting to murder a police officer
after Sfatcu was caught transporting "illegal" Bibles, was
released and allowed to emigrate to the United States, as were
a number of others, including Dorel Catarama, a Seventh-Day
Adventist, and three Baptist pastors. An elder of a Ploesti
Evangelical Brethren Church, Hie Neamtu, was convicted in
1986 and given a severe sentence, although the circumstances
suggest that Neamtu ' s real offense was organizing a series of
Evangelical meetings among his co-workers. Neamtu 's
conviction, however, was overturned in November by an appeals
court which ruled the charges against him were incorrect.
In a positive development in 1986, Romanian authorities agreed
to the printing of 5,000 new Bibles for the Romanian National
Baptist Union, the first such printing since the 1920 's. They
also agreed to the printing of several thousand additional
Bibles in subsequent years, depending upon the need. At the
end of the year, arrangements for the printing of the first
group of Bibles had not been completed.
Concerns remain regarding the maintenance, repair, and
construction of church buildings. A large Seventh-Day
Adventist Church in Bucharest, located in a renovation zone,
was demolished in August. Although the Government has
promised to allow the purchase of a replacement facility, none
of the sites proposed by the Church have been approved. Since
August, the congregation has been meeting in a temporary
Structure totally inadequate for its needs. A Baptist Church
in Hunedoara is making its final appeal on an alleged building
code violation; if it loses, a substantial part of the church
building will be demolished. Several other congregations
whose churches were destroyed in previous years are still
awaiting approval to rebuild. An Evangelical Brethren Church
in Brinceni recently lost a court case involving the validity
of the sales contract for its building and now must find new
quarters. The country's largest Baptist Church, in Oradea,
has been told that approval previously granted for
construction of a new church, on land purchased at great
expense, has now been revoked, leaving the several
thousand-member congregration in an overcrowded building with
a decaying foundation and no sewer facilities.
Seminary admissions remain extremely limited. In 1985 the
Baptists were allowed only four new students, the Seventh-Day
Adventists and Pentecostals , three each. By comparison, the
Baptists were permitted an average of 40 per year in the late
1970 's.
The Government remains in disagreement with the Roman Catholic
Church on a number of issues, and the church technically
remains without an approved government charter. However, the
church is allowed to operate as if it were fully recognized.
The Government continues to permit the operation of an active
Jewish community organization throughout the country. Jewish
leaders also continue to be able to travel freely outside
Romania. However, there were a number of problems in 1986.
In the course of a major urban renewal project in Bucharest, a
large old age home was demolished before a replacement
facility was ready, and a major synagogue was torn down
despite earlier indications from the Government that this
would not occur. Responsible Government authorities have
since given assurances that the remaining key Jewish community
facilities will not be disturbed. The Jewish community also
has been distressed by anti-Semitic overtones in two recent
publications. Community leaders protested vigorously and were
told that those responsible would be punished. Recent reports
indicate that the editor of one of the publications has been
dismissed. The Government did allow the Chief Rabbi to
respond publicly in the Jewish community newspaper to one of
the pieces, but neither of the offending publications has
printed the Rabbi's letters of rebuttal. A fire in October
which damaged the synagogue in Buhusi, in northeastern
Romania, has given rise to new concerns about anti-Semitism in
Romania. However, the Government quickly denounced the act,
and within several days arrested four suspects who were later
convicted on charges of robbery and arson and imprisoned.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
Except for certain military or other restricted areas (access
prohibited) and border areas (access limited to residents of
the areas and those with economic need to travel there), there
are no official restrictions placed on travel within Romania.
Because of economic hardships, however, travel within Romania
can be difficult for the average citizen. The authorities
sometimes reportedly seek to discourage citizens from
traveling to meet foreign visitors or to attend particular
functions .
The right of a citizen to change his place of residence is
restricted. All citizens are required to have residence
permits and may not legally move from one town to another, or
between districts within a city, without official permission.
Implementation of residence permit regulations and
ant i unemployment laws has had the effect of diluting the
ethnically homogeneous nature of some parts of the country
heavily populated by national minority groups. Workers are
technically free to change jobs, although ant i unemployment
laws and governmental controls limit this freedom in practice.
Travel outside Romania is treated as a privilege, frequently
arbitrarily withheld, even for those who can "guarantee" their
return by leaving a close family member behind. Older persons
wishing to visit their children resident abroad generally have
few problems.
Officially, Romania encourages tourism by making visas
available for most visitors at the border. The Government has
indicated, however, that certain U.S. citizens who formerly
visited Romania as tourists would not be given visas for
future visits, nor would they be allowed to reenter the
country. In 1986 two American visitors were arrested and
expelled from the country after attempting to contact
prominent ethnic Hungarians. The Government refused to give
the grounds for the expulsion except to insist, with no
apparent justification, that their activities were
inconsistent with tourist status.
Official policy continues to oppose emigration for any purpose
but family reunification. Those who seek to leave Romania
continue to face harassment designed to dissuade them and
others who might be considering permanent departure.
Successful applications take between 1 and 5 years before exit
approval is granted. The Government refuses to allow some
Romanians to apply for emigration passports at all.
The United States and Romanian Governments reached an
understanding in 1985 on new procedures for processing persons
seeking to emigrate to the United States. These procedures
have substantially reduced the hardships formerly faced by
Romanians given permission to leave permanently for the United
States. They represent one area of progress by Romania toward
fulfilling its commitments, under the Madrid Concluding
Document of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in
Europe, regarding treatment of intending emigrants.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens
to Change Their Government
Though the Constitution guarantees the right of Romanians to
change their government and leaders, in practice the
individual citizen has almost no voice in shaping public
policy or choosing public officials. The Romanian Communist
Party, led by the President and a few advisers, rules the
country. No actual or potential alternatives to this present
rigidly centralized control are apparent, and no meaningful
opposition exists or would be tolerated. Public criticism of
the Government, the party, and the state leadership is
The Communist Party comprises more than 13.5 percent of the
total population of the country. Women officially represent
52 percent of the general membership, and minorities are
reportedly represented in proportion to their numbers within
the general population.
National parliamentary elections by secret ballot are held
every 5 years. The public has no effective voice in the
nominating process; candidates are chosen by the Front for
Democracy and Socialist Unity, a mass organization whose
president is Nicolae Ceausescu. Over 75 percent of its
officers are Communist Party Central Committee members.
Official statistics published after the March 1985 general
election claimed that 99 percent of those registered actually
voted, and 97.3 percent of these voted for the Front's
candidates. Western observers closely watching the elections
consider these figures highly suspect. The Parliament itself
rubber-stamps the Government's proposals.
In Romania, the chief party executive for each city, county,
or enterprise is also the chief civil executive. Internal
party elections were held for the new Communist Party
leadership late in 1984. Though these preceded the national
general election by several months, those chosen for senior
party posts the previous fall were universally "elected" to
the corresponding public posts the following spring.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations
of Human Rights
There are no human rights monitoring organizations operating
in Romania. The Government has not commented officially on
reports issued by governmental or nongovernmental
organizations such as the Council of Europe, Amnesty
International, or Freedom House, all of which have been
critical. In 1986 Romanian authorities refused to approve a
long-proposed visit by the International Human Rights Law
Group. It did allow travel to Romania by American human
rights attorney-observers at the bribery trial of loan Ruta
described above.
Romania continues officially to proclaim that discussion and
examination of its human rights situation is "unwarranted
interference in domestic affairs," despite its professed
support for human rights standards embodied in the United
Nations Charter and in the Final Act of the Conference on
Security and Cooperation in Europe. At the same time,
discussion of human rights issues is a regular feature of
diplomatic exchanges between the U.S. and Romanian Governments,
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion,
Language, or Social Status
According to official figures, the country's population
includes about 2.7 million members of ethnic m.inorities, of
whom 1.7 million are ethnic Hungarians. Hungarian sources
claim that the true figure is closer to between 2 and 2 1/2
million ethnic Hungarians. Hungarians, Germans, Gypsies, and
members of many smaller groups constitute about 12 percent of
the total population. Romania's minorities live in a country
infused with Romanian nationalism. School texts, history
books, and mass media purvey a version of history which often
ignores or belittles the role these minorities have played in
Romanian history. Although there is no clear evidence of
economic discrimination against minorities, the Government,
despite public pronouncements to the contrary, appears to
encourage the integration and absorption of minority groups
into one unified Romanian culture.
Although the Constitution forbids discrimination on the basis
of ethnic background, and the Government claims it does not
discriminate against minorities, there nonetheless are
limitations on minority groups' freedom to express and
maintain their cultural heritage. The principal groups which
feel such limitations are the Hungarian and, to a lesser
degree, the German minorities. Government efforts to
centralize and economize by combining educational, social, and
cultural facilities frequently affect minority groups
disproportionately. For example, the mergers of schools,
theaters, or other such institutions often result in the loss
of the minority group's ethnic characteristics as the
institutions become predominantly Romanian.
Strict government control of private organizations which are
dedicated to the preservation of ethnic cultural practices is
often viewed by members of minority groups as discriminatory.
Both Romanian and non-Romanian television and radio
broadcasting have been cut as an economy measure. However,
despite government limitations, Hungarian- and German- language
daily papers still outstrip their Romanian language
equivalents in circulation in heavily ethnic areas.
In the field of education, reports from several sources
indicate that there are no longer Hungarian-language high
schools, but only Hungarian sections in Romanian high
schools. Under longstanding rules, the minimum number of
Romanian-speaking students required to form a Romanian class
is far less than the minimum number of minority children
required to form a class in their language. There continue to
be reports that government practice is to assign mainly
Romanian-speaking teachers to predominantly Hungarian areas,
and most Hungarian-speaking teachers to predominantly Romanian
areas. Although basic schooling still is available in
minority languages such as Hungarian and German, students can
take university entrance examinations and courses in minority
languages only in a few disciplines.
Women are constitutionally guaranteed the same rights and
privileges as men. The Government seeks to upgrade the role
of women in society with specific policies in the areas of
education, access to employment, and comparable wages. As a
result, women are employed in virtually all sectors of the
economy, and there is equal opportunity in education, but at
the senior levels of responsibility and authority, they appear
in far smaller numbers. The higher ranks of the party are
occupied predominantly by male Romanians.
The Constitution guarantees the right to work. Unemployment
is a crime ("social parasitism"). The Government closely
controls the labor market and claims that there is no
unemployment .
The Constitution guarantees an 8-hour workday (or a 6-hour day
in "arduous" occupations), a 24-hour rest period each week,
paid vacations, and the "right to leisure. " Labor law
elaborates these guarantees but allows employers to override
these standards "if conditions warrant." In 1986 there were
numerous reports of workers required to perform extra,
uncompensated days of labor to make up for lagging production
or for some official holidays. Shift schedules and workdays
have been arbitrarily adjusted, in some cases, to rationalize
machinery use or energy consumption patterns.
There is no specific minimum employment age, although Romanian
law requires schooling to the age of 16. Exceptions, however,
are allowed for youths 14 years of age in temporary jobs and
for youths of 15 employed in industrial work, so long as the
employer provides continuing educational opportunities and
shows that the work being performed is "appropriate for the
age and condition" of the employee. In such cases, the law
limits work to 6 hours per day. Children from age 11 may work
in the fields, or in other "patriotic work," usually as part
of a school or other group activity.
The labor code guarantees Romanian workers a safe
environment. The Ministry of Labor has established safety
standards for most industries and is responsible for enforcing
these standards. In practice, however, observers report that
workplace conditions in many factories present substantial
health or safety hazards. Although management is reportedly
aware of these deficiencies in most cases, emphasis on meeting
production goals clearly takes precedence over safety and
health in light of the Government's insistence on rapidly
paying off the foreign debt and on pursuing industrial and
economic development.