Open Letter to OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights

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Attn.: Director Michael Georg Link, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights

Dear Director Link,

By now, you are probably aware of the protests taking place over the past three days in Romania. These protests have been mostly presented in the press as protests against corruption and an attack on rule of law in Romania.

While this is true, it is also true, and perhaps even more unsettling, that the measures taken by the Grindeanu Administration that are being protested present a major Human Rights risk. Emergency Ordinance 13/2017 modifies Article 297 of the Romanian Criminal Code, which refers to abuse in office as follows:

(2) The action of the civil servant that, while exercising their office, restricts the rights of a person or creates a situation of inferiority on the basis of race, nationality, ethnic origin, language, religion, gender, sexual orientation, political views, wealth, age, non-contagious chronic disease or HIV/AIDS infection is punishable with prison from one month to one year or with a fine.

(3) The dispositions in paragraphs (1) and (2) do not apply to the emission, approval or adoption of normative acts.

This modification to the Criminal Code absolves law-makers and administration from passing and adopting discriminatory laws and is an extremely dangerous legal provision, which could open the door for systemic and systematic discrimination of any number of Romanian minorities.

As such, we request that, as head of the ODIHR, you exercise all mechanisms at your disposal to put pressure on the Romanian Government headed by Prime-Minister Sorin Grindeanu to repeal these ordinances before they come into force on the February 11th 2017.

Thank you for your support!

Freedom House Romania

The Romanian Center for European Policies

Grupul pentru Dialog Social / The Group for Social Dialogue

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