Discrimination against Roma continued to be a major problem. Observers estimated that there were between 1.8 and 2.5 million Roma in the country, constituting approximately 10 percent of the total population. Accurate numbers for Roma are hard to pinpoint, due to problems with identification documents and residence registration. According to the most recent official census in 2011, there were 621,573 Roma in the country, or 3.1 percent of the population.
Romani groups complained that harassment and police brutality, including beatings, were routine. Both domestic and international media and observers reported societal discrimination against Roma. NGOs reported that Roma were denied access to, or refused service in, many public places. Roma also experienced poor access to government services, a shortage of employment opportunities, high rates of school attrition, inadequate health care, and pervasive discrimination. A lack of identity documents excluded many Roma from participating in elections, receiving social benefits, accessing health insurance, securing property documents, and participating in the labor market. Roma were disproportionately unemployed or underemployed. A study on the social inclusion of Roma, released in 2013 by Impreuna Agency, a Romani rights NGO, indicated that Romani children had a higher school dropout rate than non-Romani children. Roma had a higher unemployment rate and a lower life expectancy than non-Roma.
Stereotypes and discriminatory language regarding Roma were widespread. Journalists and several senior government officials made statements viewed as discriminatory by members of the Romani community; the National Council for Combating Discrimination fined some individuals as a result. Anti-Roma banners, chants, and songs were prevalent and widespread, particularly at large televised sporting events. Discriminatory ads continued to appear in written publications and on the internet.
According to media reports, evictions or attempted evictions of Roma continued in Bucharest, Caracal, Baia Mare, and other localities during the year.
In July the mayor of Baia Mare initiated a campaign of identifying illegally built dwellings in four Romani neighborhoods with the declared goal of “eradicating these poverty zones.” On July 27, authorities demolished 15 shacks in one neighborhood, reportedly on public land, and asked the persons living there to return to their localities of origin. Raids in the other three Romani neighborhoods followed, but without demolishing any dwellings. In September the mayor initiated a public discussion with representatives of the relevant ministries, local authorities, and civil society to identify solutions for the Roma living in the neighborhoods.
The situation of 10 Romani families (approximately 50 persons), whom authorities evicted from an abandoned school in Eforie in July 2014, remained precarious. The families had been relocated to the school after an earlier eviction in 2013. A complaint regarding their eviction was pending in court as of the end of September.
NGOs and media reported that discrimination by teachers and other students against Romani students was a disincentive for Romani children to complete their studies. Despite an order by the Ministry of Education forbidding segregation of Romani students, there were anecdotal reports of school officials placing Romani children in the back of classrooms, teachers ignoring Romani students, and unimpeded bullying of Romani students by other schoolchildren. In some communities authorities placed Romani students in separate classrooms or schools.
In September the parents of three Romani children in Focsani complained that the teachers and directors in three schools did not enroll their children on various grounds, which they viewed as discrimination.
NGO observers noted that Romani women faced both gender and ethnic discrimination and often lacked the training, marketable skills, or work experience needed to participate in the formal economy.
On January 27, the ECHR ruled that the state should pay 192,000 euros ($211,000) in compensation to 27 Roma who were victims of excessive use of force by police. In 2006 police entered a Romani community in Apalina (Mures County), reportedly to deliver subpoenas to two Roma who were under criminal investigation. The Roma accused police of using extreme violence when they came to the community, while the officers involved in the incident claimed that Roma physically assaulted them and that they only used force in reaction to the attack.
The government continued implementing a program to improve interethnic relations in Hadareni--the site of a major incident of mob violence against Roma in 1993--pursuant to a ruling by the ECHR. The government appealed a 2014 ruling of the appeals court in Cluj-Napoca, and the Supreme Court partially annulled the lower court’s ruling on April 29. On August 8, civic leaders inaugurated a memorial in honor of the Roma deported and exterminated in Transnistria and Auschwitz-Birkenau between 1940 and 1944 at the Museum of Roma Culture in Bucharest.
The National Agency for Roma was responsible for coordinating public policies for Roma. Romani NGOs, however, criticized the scope of this agency’s responsibilities, noting that they were too broad and often overlapped with the activities of other government bodies. On January 14, the government adopted a new Roma strategy. Romani CRISS (Center for Social Intervention and Studies) asserted that the strategy failed to set priorities, identify concrete sources of funding, or establish mechanisms for the participation of local authorities. In an open letter, a group of eight other Romani NGOs criticized the strategy and the government’s failure to consider their proposals for it.
Within the General Inspectorate of the Romanian Police, an advisory board is responsible for managing the relationship between police and the Romani community. To improve relations with the community, police continued to use Romani mediators to facilitate communication between Roma and authorities and to assist in crises.
According to the 2011 census, the ethnic Hungarian population was approximately 1.2 million.
Ethnic Hungarians continued to report discrimination related to their ability to use the Hungarian language. In August the political umbrella group Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania released a report on the government’s implementation of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. The report asserted that ethnic Hungarians were not permitted to use Hungarian in courts or administrative matters and that many municipalities did not use bilingual signs. The report claimed that courts obstructed the financing of Hungarian-language newspapers by local authorities and that the government continued to refuse to establish a public Hungarian-language university. The report also noted there were insufficient Hungarian-language cultural institutions and translations of Hungarian-language literature in the country.
Ethnic Hungarians also complained of obstructions and bans against the use of the regional Szekler flag and symbols. In March local authorities in Targu Mures rejected the National Szekler Council’s request to hold a march to celebrate the Szeklers’ Freedom Day on March 10 and commemorate five Szekler martyrs.
In the region of Moldavia, the Roman Catholic, Hungarian-speaking Csango minority continued to operate government-funded Hungarian language classes. In some other localities, authorities denied requests for Hungarian language classes.