ACTEDO’s team has decided to temporarily extend the aria of activity for Pro Bono Network for Human Rights

The current covid-19 pandemic is affecting, one way or another, all of us: from problems regarding our physical or mental health to negative social and economic impacts on the long term. At the same time, the crises that we are confronting with has effects in both our personal and professional lives as well, giving rise to some judicial issues.

In these conditions, ACTEDO decided to temporarily extend the aria of activity for Pro Bono Network for Human Rights, which usually targets the violation of rights for vulnerable people, to the domains that are most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, during this period of time, with the support of our collaborating lawyers, we are giving free judicial assistance for even more issues :issues of labor law, including problems regarding job security, payment of compensation granted by law, the rights of people affected by cancelled events/ vacation tickets/flights, practical things regarding the closing or limitation of Court functionality, specific problems raised by the measures taken during the state of emergency for people belonging to vulnerable groups ,any other judicial issues regarding the violations of a fundamental right or freedom which may occur during quarantine.

A topical issue in the current context: How can we challenge the fines received during the state of emergency? If you are in this situation, we invited people to consult the practical guide created by ACTEDO and the Robin Hoodie collective in 2016, accessible to untrained persons. The guide explains step by step all steps in challenging a fine, provides advice on presentation to court and contains models for drafting an infringement complaint.

The period of emergency showed an increase in these abuses and events. Thus, we demand concrete actions so that the police, gendarmes and military personnel guilty of breaking the law be punished. We also ask the national Council to fight discrimination (CNCD) and the national Audiovisual Council (CNA) to exercise their mandate regarding hate speech and discriminatory discourse during this period.As regards the CNCD’s work during the state of emergency, as well as the recent decency of racist discourse, we cannot fail to note that the institution has issued only one decision finding discrimination[2]. This is also the case with CNA, which penalizes for generalized defamatory statements against a group/Community with public notice in two cases[3].

Thus, we believe that it is absolutely essential that public policies, as well as the internal procedures of institutions and the media – television, radio and printed and online – are amended and reformed to reflect an active anti-racist policy.

The measures called for include:

  • the creation of an emergency fund, with European money, for the Community activities that non-governmental organizations provide during this period, in support of local authorities which cannot meet the needs of all vulnerable citizens
  • Exemption from payroll and social security tax (CAS, CASS and CAM) for a period of 6 months, with the possibility of extension;
  • The granting of a monthly grant of 75 % of the gross average wage gain to employers who are not legal persons for property purposes who can continue their activity during the emergency but do not have the financial resources to pay their salaries;
  • The same measures to maintain funding foar the remuneration of staff of non-governmental organizations performing similar activities to public sector staff (in areas such as health, social care, education, social inclusion, culture, etc.);
  • Maintaining intact the subsidies for non-governmental organizations providing social services granted under Law No 34/1998;
  • The urgent payment of all debts or reimbursements to non-governmental organizations (such as the payment of sick leave allowances, etc.),
  • The deferral of the payment for utilities and the deferral of the payment of the rent for the registered office building and secondary premises throughout the period of the emergency, similar to the SME facility in the OGA No 29/2020.

We have published this position paper to substantiate the need for state support measures to avoid blocking the work of non-governmental organizations and to ensure the continuity of the services they provide, including by serving vulnerable groups in critical need of support during this period,” says Ionut Sibian, Executive Director, Civil society Development Foundation.

The position paper was sent to the President of Romania, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Labor and Social Protection and the Minister of public Finance on 24th of March, and is accessible HERE. Non-governmental organizations wishing to join the process can express their support HERE.

An ever-topical issue, all the more so during this period, is the procedure whereby an infringement can be challenged. Over 190.000 illegal sanctions have been imposed in the last month alone for breaking traffic restrictions, with many people charging overpower by the fact-finding or disproportionate sanctions.

Our Association, through pro bono lawyer Dana Ududec, in collaboration with Robin Hoodie group, produced in 2016 a comprehensive guide to challenge the criminal sanctions, accessible to untrained persons. Although the guide was originally designed to help people to challenge the fines they have received at public events, the procedure you have to follow in challenging any fine is the same. So we hope that this guide will be a welcome support during this period, if you are in a position to have received an offending fine that you wish to challenge.

The guide explains step by step all steps to be taken in challenging a fine, from the moment you are actually penalized, to the correct drafting and submission of documents for the court to the appeal stage (if it comes to there). Provides practical advice for presenting the case and contains models for drafting an infringing complaint.

The Pro Bono Network for Human Rights, a project coordinated by ACTEDO, is a pro bono legal assistance center (clearinghouse in English) through which we involve pro bono lawyers in solving serious social problems, from discrimination and access for people with disabilities to education and health. , to domestic violence, harassment or forced evictions. From the beginning of the Network until 2016, we helped over 150 vulnerable people in serious situations of violation of their rights. Since 2016, the project operates on a voluntary basis.

If you belong to a vulnerable group and you have been the victim of a situation of discrimination or your fundamental right has been violated ( pages available only in Romanian) you can write us on http://probono.actedo.org/ro/formular-de-aplicatie-ong-uri/ or http://probono.actedo.org/ro/formular-de-aplicatie-persoane-fizice/.

____________