Under Article 22 of the 1991 Constitution of Romania:
1. The right to life, as well as the right to physical and mental integrity of person are guaranteed.
2. No one may be subjected to torture or to any kind of inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment.
Article 39 states that: "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."
The Constitution does not specifically regulate the use of force by the police.
|1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)||State Party|
|ICCPR Optional Protocol 1||State Party|
|1984 Convention against Torture (CAT)||State Party|
|Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints||No|
|CAT Optional Protocol 1||State Party|
|1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court||State Party|
1950 European Convention on Human Rights
Police Use of Force
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:
rubber sticks, sticks with electrostatic energy, items with tear irritant and paralyzing substances, water jets, rubber bullet guns and handcuffs, trained dogs as well as other immobilization means which do not put in danger the life or do not produce a serious body harm.
Article 35(1) allows police officers to use firearms where necessary but only after the following warning: "Stop or I will shoot!" Paragraph 2, however, allows use in cases of legitimate self-defence without warning.
Earlier law,Art. 19, Law No. 26 of 12 May 1994 on the organization and functioning of the Romanian Police.which appears to remain in force, allows the police to use knives or firearms in the following situations where absolutely necessary for:
(a) self defence or defence of others against aggression endangering their lives or their health, or for the release of hostages ...
(d) arrest a suspect engaged in a criminal act and attempting to flee after refusing to obey the order to stop
(e) immobilize a suspect who fights back by using a knife or a firearm...
These provisions on use of firearms are more permissive than international law allows.
There is an independent civilian oversight body that can consider complaints about excessive police use of force. The People’s Advocate Institution is an autonomous body that is independent of any public authority with the aim of defending individuals’ rights including in their relationship with the police and wider criminal justice system.
Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies
In its 2017 Concluding Observations on Romania, the Human Rights Committee expressed its concern
about allegations of racially motivated incidents against the Roma population and allegations of police abuse amounting to ill-treatment, especially targeted against Roma....
In its 2015 Concluding Observations on Romania, the Committee against Torture expressed its concern
at reports alleging cases of violence by law enforcement officials, including against minors, at the time of arrest, detention and interrogation, that has amounted to ill-treatment and torture, and is aimed among other things at eliciting confessions, some of which has allegedly resulted in deaths.
Andreea-Marusia Dumitru v. Romania (2020)
The case concerned the effectiveness and length of the investigation conducted after the applicant sustained gunshot wounds during a police operation in November 2005. Ms Dumitru, aged 15 at the time, was returning home with her mother through a goods train depot. While she was climbing over a flat wagon Ms Dumitru was shot and wounded. According to the Government, the police had been called to disperse a group of around 90 people of Roma origin who were preparing to steal some scrap metal stored in a goods train. The Government maintained that Ms Dumitru and her mother had been part of the group. Members of Ms Dumitru’s family took her to an accident and emergency department, where she had surgery to remove part of her liver. In 2006 and 2007, she was admitted to hospital several times to be treated for the effects of her injuries.
The European Court concluded that at the relevant time national legislation had not contained provisions regulating the use of firearms in the context of police operations, apart from a requirement to issue a warning. The Court noted that the situation at the goods depot had been known at the most senior level of the police. Thefts, in some cases by children, had been a daily occurrence. The Court considered that the police authority had had sufficient time to take the necessary steps to tackle the problem and that the authorities had not done all that could be expected of them to minimise the use of lethal force and possible loss of life.
The Court dismissed the Government’s argument that the applicant’s injuries had been caused accidentally by the police officer in question acting in self-defence and held that the police officer had not taken adequate precautions to protect human life, in a context of a lack of detailed rules on the use of firearms by the law-enforcement agencies and shortcomings in the planning of the police operation.
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.
Lingurar v. Romania (2018)
This case concerned two police operations in the Roma community of Pata Rât to locate individuals suspected of theft. The Court found that the use of force by the police against Mr Lingurar and Mr Lăcătuş had been excessive and unjustified in the circumstances. Mr Lingurar had been thrown to the ground by a police officer and Mr Lăcătuş had been struck by a truncheon although he was putting up no resistance and had been immobilised by two police officers. The Court considered that these acts of brutality were intended to give rise to feelings of fear, anguish and inferiority capable of humiliating and debasing him.
Without accepting that there had been a racist motive to the police conduct during the operation, the Court considered that the authorities’ investigation into the applicants’ allegations of racism had not been sufficiently thorough.
In August 2018, Romania's Prime Minister defended the use of force by police to break up anti-government protests in Bucharest in an incident that left more than 450 people injured and drew criticism from the European Union. In the August 10 protests, some 450 protesters required medical assistance after riot police used water cannon and tear gas against an estimated 100,000 mostly peaceful protesters in a display of violence unseen in Romania since the early 1990s.