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Minority rights in Romania: One step forward, two steps back?

Minority rights in Romania: One step forward, two steps back?

After initially voting in favour of a proposed amendment by the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSZ/UDMR), which was meant to extend the linguistic rights of minorities in the fields of healthcare and social assistance, three parties, namely the National Liberal Party (PNL), the Save Romania Union (USR) and the People’s Movement Party (PMP), objected to the proposed amendment at the Constitutional Court of Romania.

This sudden change of opinion on the part of the three parties is both absurd and offensive, and can only be interpreted as an assault against the Hungarian community and against human rights in general.

The amendment in question states that in localities where a minority population exceeds 20%, or the alternative gap of 5000 people, members of the minority must be guaranteed the right to be attended within the healthcare system and social services by a person who speaks their mother tongue. Such an extension of the linguistic rights of minorities would be an important step forward, since there have been several cases in recent years of patients being shamed and ill-treated within the healthcare system for not speaking Romanian properly.

In their objections PNL, USR and PMP argue that the proposed amendment is unconstitutional because “it infringes the principles of equality before the law and non-discrimination”, to which they added that “it can also be discriminatory towards other minorities”. Such arguments are clearly contradictory and absurd, since the amendment was intended precisely to prevent discrimination against minorities.

Following the objection of the three parties, RMDSZ/UDMR released a statement in which the president of the organisation, Hunor KELEMEN, underlined that the objections presented to the Constitutional Court are in fact trumped-up arguments, which are meant to curb minority rights. “If they cannot help us, we ask that they at least don’t obstruct our work.” – added KELEMEN. The RMDSZ/UDMR statement also notes that by proposing such a measure, PNL and PMP go against the values of their own political family, the European People’s Party, which is highly committed to protecting minority rights.

Source: The Mikó Imre Minority Rights Legal Services Assistance – Press release

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