Romania - 2. INSTITUTIONAL AND LEGAL FRAMEWORK
Specialized institutional bodies mandated to fight against trafficking were set up in Romania since 2001. The institutional framework was developed folowing trafficking trends and based on know how and expertise aquired in time.
Now, with more then an extensive period in countering THB, the specialized law enforcement and judicial units existing in every county is continuosly improved its response and techniques succiding to have an excellent record of performance with a high number of prosecutions and convictions over the years.
National Agency against Trafficking in Persons
One particular institutional set up, with very positive results since its operationalization, is the ANITP within the Minister of Internal Affairs, a multidisciplinary team consisting of police officers, social workers, psychologists and sociologists, governmental entity tasked to ensure co-ordination, among anti-trafficking actors, state and non-governmental ones, develop policies and prevention activities. The Agency have national coverage through its 15 regional centres set up to mirror at a smaller scale the Central Unit, being also composed of police officers, social workers, psychologists and sociologists performing similar tasks at local level. One of the outcomes of Agency involvment was a consistent improvement of the anti-trafficking response, guided by the victim centred approach principle. Programs like transnational referal mechanism, developed within a SEE countries project coordinated by ICMPD, curently implemented by Romanian authorities when Romanian victims are repatriated with agency support or Victims co-ordination during criminal proceedings that facilitated access to justice for an increased number of victims, are some of the measures that contributed to a steady development of anti-trafficking capacity resulting in a decrease of the number of victims in the past years and more succesfull prosecutions and conviction of perpetrators.
Improvement of cooperation with civil society organization took also a positive trend in the last 5 years. In this matter, efforts are made to amend legal framework in order to ensure financial support for the NGO’s involved in victims assistance.
Prevention was another area of great interest for Romanian authorities that in cooperation with national and international actors from both govenmental and non-governmental spectrum, developed various prevention actions targeting various vulnerable groups to THB.
With a future medium to long term focus on victim’s social assistance development, Romanian authorities are in the process to prepare and launch an evaluation of the national social assistance system with a view of reconfiguring it in order to guarantee easy access and sustainable process of recuperation and reintegration for VoT.
Romania prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons.
Since 2001 until February 2014 criminalization of trafficking was enforced through Law no. 678/2001 on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings. The Law was introduced in the Criminal Code in 2009 and entered into force at February 1st 2014.
Legal and social message of the new code is based primarily on objective punitive policy reform and conceptual approach includes a review of sentences, a logical ordering by condensation of law (in this respect a number of offenses in special laws were included as modified or unchanged in the new cod) and also criminal acts and penalties adapted to the current realities.
In relation to trafficking, the new Penal Code brings naturally some changes compared to former law.
Chapter VII of Title I of the special part of the New Criminal Code - Law no. 286 / 17.07.2009, entitled Trafficking and exploitation of vulnerable persons include offenses of trafficking and related offenses and is made with a part of incriminations currently contained in Law no. 678/2001 on preventing and combating trafficking in persons, as amended and supplemented. The incriminations of the New Penal Code is likely to avoid different interpretations and inconsistent practice created by the application of the texts from special criminal law and also representing transposition into internal criminal law obligations under international legal instruments to which Romania is a party.
The provisions for human trafficking prescribe penalties from three to fifteen years' imprisonment.
These penalties are commensurate with the penalties prescribed for other grave crimes, such as rape. In the new Criminal Code of July 17 2009, chapter VII (Trafficking and exploitation of vulnerable persons) is aimed at establishing crimes, particularly against minors, through a modern approach in line with European and international regulation. Therefore, any acts committed against minors that can be severely harmful to their life, freedom, health, physical and mental integrity are criminalized. Examples include trafficking in minors, procurement, exploitation for begging, forcing a minor to beg, benefiting from the services of an exploited person, rape, sexual assault, sexual intercourse with a minor, sexual corruption of minors, and the recruitment of minors for sexual purposes.
According to Romanian law foreign citizens may be granted a temporary residence permit for a period of six months, as victims of trafficking even if they entered illegally, the period that can be extended.
Foreign victims receive a 90-day reflection period to decide whether they would like to cooperate in criminal proceedings.
National Strategy / National Action Plan
The National Strategy against Trafficking for the period 2012 - 2016 is the next step that Romania makes in the efforts to modernize the management process of preventing and combating human trafficking in the national territory and assistance to victims.
For a better approach to the phenomenon in the interest of Romanian society, the national strategy aimed at establishing the objectives envisaged at national level followed by actions and concrete measure of the responsible authorities in the field of preventing and combating human trafficking.
The national strategy for the period 2012-2016 aims to reduce the impact and dimensions of trafficking at national level by prioritizing and improving the activities so that the efforts of actors involved in the fight against human trafficking to be focused in the following areas:
- Discouraging demand - a fundamental cause of human trafficking which supplies all forms of exploitation - represents a factor which supports the decrease of trafficking, by adapting and strengthening legislative, educational, social, cultural, and administrative or prevention campaigns targeted to reduce it.
- Improving statistical interpretations, mechanisms to collect and analyze data on trends on trafficking in persons.
- Monitoring the situation of victims based on a set of common indicators, standardized, according to European regulations and recommendations.
- Creating educational programs, especially for groups of people at risk in order to increase awareness about the risks of being trafficked.
- Implementation of supplementary specific measures to ensure respect for the right of victims to financial compensation.
- Developing standardized information means to provide specific information, particular to sub domains intervention, for all responsible structures (information on legislation, traffic indicators, the national network of social service providers, contacts etc.).
Coordination of anti-trafficking actions at national level
The Government Decision no. 460/2011 designated ANITP to coordinate, evaluate and monitor the implementation of anti-trafficking, victim protection and assistance policies by public institutions at national level, being subordinated to the Minister of Internal Affairs.
ANITP runs fifteen Regional Centres to monitor the local implementation of the National Action Plans and to support anti-trafficking activities performed in the ANITP's area of responsibility.
ANITP is also responsible for maintaining the Integrated System for Monitoring and Evaluation of Victims of Trafficking (SIMEV) a central database on victims of human trafficking, and plays a key role in the referral mechanism. SIMEV is an important tool for the evaluation of the phenomenon, in order to identify trends and make them available for stakeholders and ensuring the effectiveness of early action to implement the national strategy against trafficking in persons. ANITP ensures the effective referral of victims to the assistance services providers, as well as monitoring the quality of assistance with which the victims are provided.
National Rapporteur or Equivalent Mechanism
In order to support the fulfillment of Romania’s obligation as an EU Member State, year 2013 represents the end of the transposition process of the Directive 2011/36 on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA. Common approach of all relevant institutions to adapt national legislation to the provisions of the European law were completed in April 2013 at the deadline required by the European Commission, Romania being one of the first seven MS countries that have managed to fully transpose the directive.
In the process of implementing the article 19 of the EU Directive on Trafficking in Human Beings 2011/36, Romanian authorities opted for an equivalent mechanism to a national rapporteur assigning provided task to the ANITP which was set up within the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The most important challenges at national level
The main challenge of the national anti-trafficking mechanism remains the assistance provided for victims. The stakeholders continued to identify a large number of victims, but public or private institutions offered assistance to only a minority of victims.
Another challenge that we face is related to the demand reduction. The efforts that we do in this respect have to overcome the difficulty of reaching the target group(s). The clients or the employers of the victims do not represent a visible and compact category of population. It is not easy to find a proper preventive message and an efficient way for its transmission. The solution that we envisaged for dealing with this issue is an extended partnership with NGOs, private companies and state agencies.
 Government Decision no. 460/2011 on the organization and functioning of the National Agency against Trafficking in Persons - ANITP