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July 7, 2022
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Romania Adopted Controversial Law to Punish Political Discrimination with Prison

Romania adopted the law to punish political discrimination with prison. The Chamber of Deputies approved the amendment regarding political bias, and the penalty is six months to 3 years or a fine.

Thus, according to the new regulation, the crime of inciting violence, hatred or discrimination represents:

  • Inciting the public, by any means, to violence, hatred or discrimination against a category of persons or against a person because he belongs to a particular type of persons defined on the grounds of race, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, gender, sexual orientation, opinion or political affiliation, wealth, social origin, age, disability, chronic non-communicable disease or HIV / AIDS infection considered by the perpetrator as causes of the inferiority of one person concerning others is punishable by imprisonment from 6 months to 3 years or with a fine.

The amendment was made as a transposition of Framework Decision 2008/913 /JHA on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia through criminal law.

What’s new and why it should be concerning?

Incriminating incitement to violence already exists in Article 369 of the Criminal Code. The novelty is the punishment for political discrimination. The project is not aimed at politicians but critical voices in society. Practically any substantial criticism that an ordinary citizen or journalist would make of a politician or a political party could be considered a crime and be punished accordingly.

Here we are talking about a parliamentary action aimed at freedom of expression, the illiberal tendencies are clear. It is an attack on freedom of opinion and expression and sends us exactly to the area where, in theory, we challenge it. From here to the incrimination of the word ”war” is only one step.

Political scientist Cristian Pîrvulescu

The consequences of these laws are worrying, and the law may limit freedom of expression. There have been many attempts in Romania by political figures to restrict freedom of expression or censor the news, but now the issue can no longer be ignored. The Romanian Government is taking advantage of the war in Ukraine to strike a blow against democracy. The fact that politicians intend again to implement such a law rejected in the past constitutes an alarm signal for democracy.

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