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Freedom of assembly threatened in Romania: New regulations regarding public meetings

September 12, 2011

Shortly after the civil society in Romania showed the President the red card, The Romanian Ministry of Internal Affairs announced a new law-proposal regarding public meetings.

The proposal, if it were adopted, might make it more difficult to organize public meetings in Romania.

Flashmobs need approval

According to the new law proposal, flashmobs and artistic or cultural meetings not only need to be declared, but they need to be approved.

The current law states that:
“It is not compulsory to give notice of public meetings of a cultural or artistic, sporting, religious or commemorative nature, assemblies connected with official visits, or meetings held within the headquarters or other buildings belonging to public or private juridical persons.”

The new law proposal eliminates “cultural or artistic, sporting and commemorative” and adds “promoting”.
Therefore, companies promoting their products may organize public meetings, but people who want to express themselves in an artistic way, must prove their assembly won’t be dangerous.

“Declared” vs. “Approved”

Furthermore, the new law proposal might transform a law that protects the citizen’s right to assembly and to freedom of speech into a law that limits the citizen’s right to assembly and to freedom of speech.

It is a subtle yet scary difference:
According to the current law, “The citizen’s freedom of speech, of expressing political views, social or of any other kind, of organizing public meetings, demonstrations, protests or any other meetings and to participate in them is guaranteed by law.”
The above mentioned paragraph has been cut from the new law proposal.

According the the current law, public meetings have to be “declared” 3 days prior to their occurrence.
According to the new law proposal, public meetings must be “approved” by the city hall, and the approval request should be handed to the city hall 5 days prior to the event.

Resources:
The law proposal: pdf [RO]
The current law: Act No. 60/1991 on the organization and conduct of public meetings [RO]
For Romanian speakers, have some fun with this article about How to: Dictatorship in small steps: De la dansul pinguinului la jocul pulanelor

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