The International Human Rights Framework on the Right of Peaceful Assembly

Romania is a state party to the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 21 governs the right of peaceful assembly, providing that:

The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

Romania is also a state party to the First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, which allows individuals to petition the Human Rights Committee if they believe the state has violated their human rights as protected under the Covenant.

At regional level, Romania is a state party to the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights. Article 11 governs freedom of assembly and association:

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

2. No restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. This Article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on the exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces, of the police or of the administration of the State.

The Domestic Legal Framework on the Right of Peaceful Assembly

Constitutional Provisions

Under Article 39 of the 1991 Constitution of Romania: 

Public meetings, processions, demonstrations or any other assembly shall be free and may be organized and held only peacefully, without arms of any kind whatsoever.

National Legislation

Law No. 60/1991 regulates public gatherings and requires two days' notice for demonstrations. The law prohibits "hindering the regular use of public roads and public transportation" and imposes fines on protestors who violate the law.

The Legal Framework on Use of Force During Assemblies

The Use of Force

International Legal Rules

Under international law, the duty on the state and its law enforcement agencies is to facilitate the enjoyment of the right of peaceful assembly. According to the 1990 United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials:

In the dispersal of assemblies that are unlawful but non-violent, law enforcement officials shall avoid the use of force or, where that is not practicable, shall restrict such force to the minimum extent necessary.

All force used by police and other law enforcement agencies must be necessary for a legitimate law enforcement purpose and proportionate to that purpose.

National Legislation

The 2002 Law on the Romanian Police governs police use of force. Article 34(1) allows the police to use a range of less-lethal weapons.

The Use of Firearms

International Legal Rules

According to the 1990 United Nations Basic Principles, in the dispersal of violent assemblies, a law enforcement official may only use a firearm against a specific individual where this is necessary to confront an imminent threat of death or serious injury or a grave and proximate threat to life. 

National Legislation

Article 35(1) of the 2002 Law allows police officers to use firearms where necessary but only after a verbal warning. Paragraph 2, however, allows use in cases of legitimate self-defence without prior warning. 

State Compliance with its Legal Obligations

Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies

In its 2017 Concluding observations on Romania, the Human Rights Committee did not address the right of peaceful assembly.

Regional Jurisprudence

Romania has not been found in violation of the right of peaceful assembly in relation to assemblies in recent years.

Mocanu v. Romania (2014)

This case concerned the violent crackdown on anti-government demonstrations in Bucharest in June 1990. During the crackdown, Ms Mocanu’s husband was killed by gunfire and Mr Stoica was arrested and ill-treated by the police. The Court confirmed that when a state becomes party to the European Convention on Human Rights, that state must comply with the duty to investagate potentially unlawful death or inhumane treatment, even though the relevant facts occurred at an earlier time. 

Civil Society

According to Freedom House's 2019 report on Romania:

Romania’s constitution guarantees freedom of assembly, and numerous peaceful public demonstrations were held during 2018. However, a large protest against government corruption in August was met with tear gas and police violence. Hundreds of people required medical attention in the wake of the clashes. In October, the High Court of Cassation and Justice banned spontaneous public gatherings under most circumstances, requiring assemblies to be declared in advance; the ruling contributed to further national protests that month.

Downloads

1991 Constitution of Romania (English translation) - Download (217 KB)
Law No. 60/1991 on public assemblies
2002 Police Law - Download (79 KB)
Mocanu v. Romania (2014) - Download (834 KB)