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Title:  Romania Human Rights Practices, 1995   
Author:  U.S. Department of State    
Date:  March 1996    
 
 
 
 
                                 ROMANIA 
 
 
Romania is a constitutional republic with a multiparty system and a 
directly elected president as chief of state.  In the 1992 presidential 
election, Ion Iliescu was reelected President with 61 percent of the 
popular vote.  The majority government coalition led by the Party of 
Social Democracy of Romania (PDSR) and headed by Prime Minister Nicolae 
Vacaroiu held power from the 1992 parliamentary elections until October 
1995 when the PDSR severed links with two extremist parliamentary allies 
and became a minority Government.  The Government has withstood four no 
confidence votes since 1992, despite the fact that the PDSR holds just 
34 percent of the parliamentary seats. 
 
The Ministry of Internal Affairs supervises the police.  The national 
police have primary responsibility for internal security, but in times 
of internal disorder the Government may call on the army and the border 
guard to assist the police with security.  The police have become 
increasingly cognizant of human rights, although reports of abuse were 
not uncommon.   
 
Romania is a middle-income developing country that is making a gradual 
transition from socialism to a market economy.  In 1995 the private 
sector accounted for about 45 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) 
and employed more than half of the country's work force, primarily in 
agriculture and services.  Government ownership remains dominant in 
industry, where 86 percent of output is produced by state-owned 
enterprises.  Growth continues to accelerate and in 1995 reached 6.9 
percent.  GDP was about $35 billion in 1995 (or about $1,550 per 
capita).  Implementation of a tough stabilization plan has reduced 
inflation from 290 percent in 1993 to 62 percent in 1994 and to 27.5 
percent in 1995.  To continue the momentum, the Government has 
instituted a mass privatization program which will privatize 3,900 state 
enterprises through a modified voucher system.  Although unemployment 
was a relatively low 8.8 percent in November, it is expected to rise 
somewhat as privatization-induced restructuring begins to take effect. 
 
The Government generally respected the rights of its citizens, although 
several serious problems remain.  The police continued to beat detainees 
frequently without effective action by the Government to punish abusers.  
Prison conditions remained poor.  The judicial system was subject to 
executive branch influence.  Government appointed prefects dismissed 
democratically elected mayors without due process.  Discrimination and 
societal violence against Roma continued, generally with impunity for 
those responsible, and and violence against women remained a serious 
problem. 
 
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 
 
Section 1   Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom 
from: 
 
   a.   Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 
 
There were no reports of political killings. 
 
On January 23 in Satu-Mare, three policemen arrested Istvan Kiss in his 
house.  They told him that he had to witness a trial, but instead took 
him to a police station.  Two hours later Kiss was found severely 
injured in a street and died on the way to a hospital.  The case was 
still under investigation by the military prosecutor at year's end.  The 
case of a railway police officer charged in 1993 with abuse leading to 
the death of a beggar is still not resolved.  The prison sentence of two 
police officers charged with torture and murder in a 1992 case was 
reduced to 10 years on appeal.  The trial of two secret service officers 
accused of murdering three citizens in 1991 continued at year's end. 
 
   b.   Disappearance 
 
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances. 
 
   c.   Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or 
Punishment 
 
The Constitution prohibits torture and inhuman or degrading punishment 
or treatment, and these prohibitions were generally respected in 
practice.  However, police frequently used excessive force during arrest 
and beat detainees.  The military prosecutor's office is charged with 
legal oversight of the police, an arrangement that human rights 
organizations believe inhibits prosecution or discipline of police 
misconduct (see Section 1.e.).   
 
Prison conditions are poor, facilities are overcrowded and unhealthy, 
and medical assistance is meager.  Credible reports indicated that 
beatings have occurred.  Prisons continued to use the "cell boss" system 
in which some prisoners are designated to be in semiofficial charge of 
others. 
 
   d.   Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 
 
The law forbids detention for more than 24 hours without an arrest order 
from a prosecutor, who may order an extension for up to 30 more days.  
The law requires the authorities to inform a detainee of the charges and 
of the right to an attorney at all stages of the legal process; police 
must notify the defendant of this right in a language the defendant 
understands before obtaining any statement.  Detainees have the right to 
apply for bail and may ask for a hearing before a judge, and this must 
be granted within 24 hours of such a request.  In the absence of a 
request, the authorities may hold a person for up to 65 days without a 
court order.  However, police often do not inform citizens of their 
rights.  Moreover, the prosecutor's office may delay action on a request 
for a lawyer for up to 5 days from the date of arrest.  In practice, the 
local bar association provides attorneys to indigents and is compensated 
by the Ministry of Justice. 
 
Exile was not used as a means of punishment. 
 
   e.   Denial of Fair Public Trial 
 
Under the terms of a 1992 law, the judicial branch is independent of 
other government branches.  However, 5 of the 15 members of the Superior 
Council of the Magistrature, which controls the selection, promotion, 
transfer, and sanctioning of judges, are prosecutors subordinate to a 
presidentially appointed Prosecutor General, and all Council members are 
nominated by Parliament.  Certain labor unions have alleged that the 
courts side with the Government in ruling on the legality of strikes and 
other labor actions.  They charge that no court has ever ruled in favor 
of the workers in a labor action against a government entity.  Although 
the judicial system continued to be at times subject to executive branch 
influence, it demonstrated increasing independence. 
 
The 1992 law reestablished a four-tier legal system, including appellate 
courts, which had ceased to exist under Communist rule in 1952.  
Defendants have final recourse to the Supreme Court or, for 
constitutional matters, to the Constitutional Court established in 1992. 
 
Cases involving military personnel and the police (who fall under the 
jurisdiction of the military prosecutor) and criminal acts against the 
State (including treason and espionage cases) are tried in a three-tier 
military court system.  Local and international human rights groups 
criticize this system, especially investigations conducted by the 
military prosecutor's office against police personnel accused of abuses.  
These critics claim that these investigations are unnecessarily lengthy 
and often purposefully inconclusive, and that the military courts 
sometimes block proper investigation of police abuses.   
 
The law provides for fair public trial, and defendants benefit from a 
presumption of innocence.  The Criminal Code requires that an attorney 
be appointed for a defendant who cannot afford legal representation or 
is otherwise unable to select counsel.  Either a plaintiff or defendant 
may appeal.  These provisions of the law are respected in practice.  The 
law provides that confessions extracted as a result of police brutality 
may be withdrawn by the accused when brought before the court. 
 
There were no reports of political prisoners. 
 
   f.   Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 
 
The Constitution provides for legal protection against the search of a 
residence without a warrant, but this protection is subordinate to 
"national security or public order."  The 1992 National Security Law 
defines national security very broadly and lists as threats to national 
security not only crimes such as terrorism, treason, espionage, 
assassination, and armed insurrection, but also totalitarian, racist, 
and anti-Semitic actions or attempts to change the existing national 
borders.  Security officials may enter residences without proper 
authorization from a prosecutor if they deem a threat to national 
security "imminent." 
 
The Constitution further states that the privacy of legal means of 
communication is inviolable; thus, the Romanian Intelligence Service 
(SRI) is legally prohibited from engaging in political acts (e.g., 
monitoring the communications of a political party).  However, the laws 
on national security allow security services to engage in such 
monitoring on national security grounds.  Similarly, although the law 
requires the SRI to obtain a warrant from a prosecutor to carry out 
intelligence activities involving "threats to national security," it may 
engage in a wide variety of operations, including "technical 
operations," to determine if a situation meets the legal definition of a 
"threat to national security." 
 
In 1995 arbitrary interference with citizens' right to privacy was rare.  
However, both citizens and foreign diplomats credibly reported opened 
mail, personal surveillance, and harassment.  The official response to 
such complaints was that the SRI was not involved and that 
unreconstructed agents of the Securitate--the Communist-era internal 
intelligence service--or independent individuals were responsible.   
 
Section 2   Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 
 
   a.   Freedom of Speech and Press 
 
Although the Constitution provides for freedom of expression and 
prohibits censorship, it limits the bounds of free expression by 
prohibiting "defamation of the country."  Amendments to the Penal Code 
contemplating even tougher penalties for press and media violations were 
rejected by the Parliament.   
 
The case against journalist Nicolae Andrei, charged in 1994 with 
slander, was inactive at year's end.  The trial of two journalists from 
the proopposition daily Ziua began in the fall and continued at year's 
end, as both sides delayed the process with procedural objections and 
rulings.  At the defendants' request, the court appointed a new judge in 
December, and the next court session was scheduled for January.  The two 
are charged, under the existing Penal Code, with defaming the Presidency 
by alleging that President Iliescu was a Soviet spy.  The trial's 
outcome will set a precedent, as the Ziua journalists are the first 
well-known journalists to be prosecuted under the Penal Code 
restrictions against defaming a state institution.  While no charges 
were brought against journalists during the year, in smaller towns local 
administrators still occasionally try to exercise control over the press 
by bringing charges of calumny against local reporters. 
 
Chronic shortages of newsprint continued, although they caused no 
cessation of publication.  The Government began a major effort to 
modernize the country's single newsprint plant.  As a result, the plant 
was closed for several days in December, when it was announced that it 
will be closed for further modernization and repairs from January to 
March 1996.  During the interregnum, newspapers will be forced to rely 
on imported newsprint supplies which are more expensive.  The state 
newspaper distributor Rodipet remains the only large organization 
capable of delivering newspapers and magazines to smaller cities and 
towns nationwide.  A few publications, however, undertake their own 
distribution outside Bucharest, using alternative, private means.  
Foreign news publications may be imported and distributed, but high 
costs limit their circulation.  
 
The independent electronic media continued to grow, although the 
frequencies under which they operate limit their audience.  During most 
of the year, Romanian State Television (RTV) and Radio Romania were the 
only national broadcasters.  However, new regulations passed in December 
provide for private television broadcasting, and by year's end one 
private channel had begun national broadcasting.  It claims coverage of 
some 35 percent of the country and expects to reach 55 percent by the 
end of 1996. 
 
The 1994 administrative law that established boards of directors, 
appointed by Parliament, for both state television (RTV) and state radio 
remained unimplemented until December when Parliament finally nominated 
four candidates to fill the long-vacant positions.  The delay allowed 
Parliament somewhat greater control over state television than it would 
have had if the board had been operational. 
 
Private broadcasting expanded rapidly.  As of December, 34 independent 
television stations and 103 radio stations were operating.  Citizens 
throughout the country have growing access to domestic and foreign 
broadcasts through the expansion of cable television throughout the 
country. 
 
In June the parliamentary commission responsible for overseeing the 
Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) decided to investigate a June 21 
incident in which SRI agents were accused of filming two journalists in 
Bucharest.  One of the journalists earlier wrote several articles 
accusing President Iliescu of having been a Soviet agent in his youth.  
In a June 27 appearance before the oversight commission, the SRI 
director claimed that the SRI agents had been on a counterespionage 
mission, had only accidentally filmed the journalists, and had been 
suspended from duty for lack of professionalism.  The case remained in 
the courts at year's end. 
 
Academic freedom is respected both inside and outside the classroom. 
 
   b.   Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 
 
The Constitution provides for freedom of assembly, and the Government 
generally respected constitutional provisions and laws on free assembly 
in practice.  The law on public assembly provides for the right of 
citizens to assemble peacefully while unarmed but states that meetings 
must not interfere with other economic or social activities and may not 
be held near locations such as hospitals, airports, or military 
installations.  Organizers of demonstrations must inform local 
authorities and police before the events.  The authorities may forbid a 
public gathering by notifying the organizers in writing within 48 hours 
of receipt of the request.  The law prohibits the organization of, or 
participation in, a counterdemonstration held at the same time as a 
scheduled public gathering. 
 
The law forbids public gatherings to espouse Communist, racist, or 
Fascist ideologies or to commit actions contrary to public order or 
national security.  It punishes unauthorized demonstrations or other 
violations by imprisonment and fines.  Constitutional provisions and 
laws on free assembly were generally respected. 
 
Citizens may form associations, including political parties, and may 
obtain legal status for them by proving membership of at least 251 
persons. 
 
   c.   Freedom of Religion 
 
The Constitution provides for religious freedom, and the Government does 
not generally impede the observance of religious belief.  However, 
several Protestant denominations made credible allegations that low-
level government officials harassed them and impeded their efforts at 
proselytism and worship, including refusal to grant long-term visas to 
foreign missionaries. 
 
 
A 1948 decree officially recognizes 15 religions whose clergy may 
receive state financial support.  The State Secretariat for Religious 
Affairs has licensed more than 300 faiths and organizations and 
foundations under two 1924 laws on juridical entities, entitling them to 
juridical status as well as to exemptions from income and customs taxes.  
The official registration of faiths and organizations is extremely slow 
because of bureaucratic delays.  Approximately 86 percent of the 
population nominally adheres to the Romanian Orthodox Church.   
 
   d.   Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, 
Emigration, and Repatriation 
 
The Government places no restrictions on travel within Romania, except 
in the case of certain small areas used for military purposes.  Citizens 
who wish to change their places of work or residence do not face any 
official barriers.  The law stipulates that citizens have the right to 
travel abroad freely, to emigrate, and to return.  In practice, citizens 
freely exercise these rights. 
 
In 1991 Romania signed the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol 
Relating to the Status of Refugees but still does not have implementing 
legislation.  In its absence, the Government cooperates with the United 
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and has established 
committees headed by the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection to deal 
with refugee and migration issues.  In the first 6 months of 1995, 240 
persons filed asylum applications.  Of the 60,000 to 80,000 illegal 
migrants transiting from third world countries to Western Europe through 
Romania, approximately 1,600 were registered as asylum seekers, of which 
70 were recognized as refugees. 
 
As of July 31, a total of 445 refugees and asylum seekers depended on 
UNHCR's direct assistance for subsistence, including food, 
accommodation, clothing, medical assistance, and language or vocational 
training.  Another 300 to 400 asylum seekers relied on the UNHCR for 
legal assistance, social counseling, and translation services.  Only 
about 15 refugees and asylum seekers are housed in the single government 
refugee camp. 
 
Section 3   Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens to 
Change Their Government 
 
The Constitution provides citizens with the right to change their 
government through periodic and free elections held on the basis of 
universal suffrage, and they have exercised this right.  However, 
between 1992 and September 1995, government appointed prefects dismissed 
for various alleged abuses 133 freely elected mayors--116 of whom 
belonged to the opposition parties or were independent--prior to binding 
legal ruling on the charges.  In addition, prefects peremptorily removed 
a large number of local council members from office.   
 
There are no legal restrictions on the participation of women in 
government or politics, but societal attitudes constitute a significant 
impediment.  Women hold 2.9 percent of the seats in Parliament, have no 
cabinet positions, and number only 1.1 percent of the mayors.   
 
The Constitution and electoral legislation grant each recognized ethnic 
minority one representative in Parliament's Chamber of Deputies, 
provided that the minority's political organization obtains at least 5 
percent of the average number of valid votes needed to elect a deputy 
outright (only some 1,100 votes in the 1992 elections).  Organizations 
representing 13 minority groups elected deputies under this provision in 
1992.  The ethnic Hungarians, represented by the Hungarian Democratic 
Union of Romania (UDMR), obtained 27 seats in the Chamber of Deputies 
and 12 seats in the Senate through the normal electoral process.  Roma 
are underrepresented in Parliament due to low Roma turnout at the polls 
and internal divisions which worked against the consolidation of votes 
for one Roma candidate, organization, or party.  They have not increased 
parliamentary representation beyond the one seat provided them through 
the Constitution and electoral legislation. 
 
Section 4   Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights 
 
Domestic human rights monitoring groups include the Romanian Helsinki 
Committee, the independent Romanian Society for Human Rights, the League 
for the Defense of Human Rights, the Romanian Institute for Human 
Rights, and several issue-specific groups such as the Young Generation 
of Roma and the Center for Crisis Intervention and Study, also a Roma 
NGO.  Other groups, such as political parties and trade unions, 
continued to have sections monitoring observance of human rights. 
 
These groups, as well as international human rights organizations, 
functioned freely without government interference and visited prisoners 
and detainees.  However, the authorities have not been cooperative with 
all human rights groups.  The General Inspectorate of the police in the 
Ministry of Interior has frozen its relations with the Romanian Helsinki 
Committee since January 1994, when RTV aired a prime time 2-hour 
critical documentary prepared by the Committee.  During a seminar on 
tolerance organized by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in 
Europe (OSCE) and held in Bucharest, government officials refused to 
allow a Turkish NGO which had attended previous seminars organized by 
the OSCE to participate in the meeting.  
 
Section 5   Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, 
Language, or Social Status 
 
The Constitution forbids discrimination based on race, nationality, 
ethnic origin, language, religion, sex, opinion and political 
allegiance, wealth, or social background.  In practice, however, the 
Government does not effectively enforce these provisions, and women, 
Roma, and other minorities are subject to various forms of extralegal 
discrimination. 
 
   Women 
 
Violence against women, particularly rape, continued to be a serious 
problem.  A study released in January by an American NGO, Minnesota 
Advocates for Human Rights, concluded that domestic violence is a 
pervasive problem which the Government has done little to address.  
There are no crisis centers, shelters, or hot lines for female victims, 
and media coverage is virtually nonexistent.   
 
According to Ministry of Interior statistics, 706 women were raped in 
the first 7 months of 1995, with 12 resulting in the death of the 
victim.  In practice, rape goes unpunished due to the difficulty of 
prosecution in view of the legal requirement for both a medical 
certificate and a witness.   
 
Both the Constitution and international conventions which Romania has 
adopted grant women and men equal rights.  In practice, however, the 
Government does not enforce these provisions, nor do the authorities 
focus attention or resources on women's issues.  The rate of 
unemployment for women is significantly higher than for men, and women 
occupy few influential positions in the private sector.  There are few 
recourses for women experiencing economic discrimination. 
 
   Children 
 
The Government's system of health care and public education benefits 
children, but there are no programs for children with special needs.  
Most resources for children still flow mainly from international 
agencies and NGO's.   
 
There was no perceptible pattern of societal abuse of children.  
Nevertheless, large numbers of impoverished and apparently homeless but 
not necessarily orphaned children roamed the streets of the larger 
cities.  No government statistics are available defining the scope of 
the problem, but deteriorating economic conditions contributed to 
increased juvenile delinquency and vandalism.  Some NGO's cited special 
concern about the number of minors detained in jail and prison and were 
seeking alternative solutions, such as parole for juveniles. 
 
   People With Disabilities 
 
Difficult economic conditions and serious budgetary constraints 
contributed to very difficult living conditions for those who suffer 
physical or mental disabilities.  Many disabled people cannot make use 
of government-provided transportation discounts because public transport 
does not have facilitated access.  Accessibility for the disabled, 
including to buildings and parking, is not mandated by law.   
 
   Religious minorities 
 
More than 200 graves in a Jewish cemetery were vandalized over an 
extended period by minors.  There was no evidence of anti-Semitic signs 
or graffiti.  The parents of the minors charged with the vandalism were 
fined.  The extreme wing of the nationalist press continued its anti-
Semitic harangues, to the discomfiture of the remaining Jewish 
population of less than 15,000.  President Iliescu has publicly 
condemned anti-Semitism, other types of racism, and xenophobia. 
 
   National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities 
 
Ethnic Hungarians constitute the largest and most vocal minority.  The 
UDMR--the ethnic Hungarian political party--holds 39 seats in 
Parliament.  There was no violence in 1995 associated with ethnic 
Hungarian problems despite extremist rhetoric from the Party of Romanian 
National Unity, the resumption of archaeological excavations near the 
statue of Hungarian King Mateus Corvinus in Cluj, and other provocative 
acts by nationalist extremists. 
 
A highly controversial Law on Education was adopted in June.  Although 
the law was deemed by the OSCE High Commissioner for National Minorities 
to be in line with European and international standards, it rescinds the 
rights of Hungarians to take university entrance examinations in 
Hungarian for those subjects not taught in Hungarian.  It also dictates 
that certain vocational schools use only Romanian, which some Hungarians 
charge will disadvantage Hungarian ethnic citizens who work in these 
areas.  However, implementation of the law has been postponed until 
1997, and the Government has accepted OSCE review of the implementation 
process.   
 
Roma continued to be subjected to acts of discrimination, harassment, 
beatings, and violence.  The trial of the arsonists of 13 Romani homes 
in Hardeni in 1993 is still pending.  The trial of the persons who 
torched 11 Romani homes in Racsa in May 1994 continues; the victims 
received apartments from the Government in Satu Mare and have not 
returned to Racsa.  In January a conflict in the village of Bacu 
degenerated into violence, with Romanians shooting at two Roma, beating 
several others, and setting fire to three Romani houses.  One woman 
suffered injuries so severe that she required amputation of a leg.  The 
police have identified and arrested the arsonists. 
 
Without consulting Romani groups, government authorities adopted an 
official designation for the Roma which was considered highly derogatory 
by some Roma.  This arbitrary decision was strongly criticized by some 
Roma as well as several OSCE member states. 
 
Section 6   Worker Rights 
 
   a.   The Right of Association 
 
The law provides that all workers except public employees, police, and 
military personnel have the right to associate freely, to engage in 
collective bargaining, and to form and join labor unions without 
previous authorization.  No worker may be forced to join or withdraw 
from a union, and union officials who resign from elected positions and 
return to the regular work force are protected against employer 
retaliation.  The majority of workers are members$of about 18 nationwide 
trade union confederations and smaller independent trade unions. 
 
The law stipulates that labor unions should be free from government or 
political party control, and the Government has honored this in 
practice.  Unions are free to engage in political activity and have done 
so. 
 
There are legal limitations on the right to strike only in industries 
such as defense, health care, transportation, and telecommunications, 
which the Government considers critical to the public interest.  
However, union members complain that unions must submit grievances to 
government-sponsored conciliation before initiating a strike and are 
frustrated with the courts' propensity to declare illegal the major 
strikes on which they were asked to rule.  Past studies have indicated 
that labor legislation adopted in 1991 falls short of International 
Labor Organization (ILO) standards in several areas, including free 
election of union representatives, binding arbitration, and financial 
liability of strike organizers. 
 
In 1995 the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association asked the ILO 
governing body to approve its recommendation that the Government amend 
restrictive provisions on the right to strike.  The recommendation 
resulted from the conclusion of an August 1993 strike launched by 
railway locomotive engineers, when the national railway company fired 
six union leaders.  The ILO committee also asked the governing body to 
approve its recommendation that the Government reinstate the suspended 
labor leaders.  Unions representing divergent sectors of the economy 
carried out strikes, or threatened to strike, throughout 1995. 
 
Labor unions may freely form or join federations and affiliate with 
international bodies.  The National Confederation of Trade Unions-Fratia 
(CNSLR-Fratia) and the National Union Bloc are affiliated with the 
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU).  Alfa Cartel 
is affiliated with the World Labor Confederation.  Representatives of 
foreign and international organizations freely visit and advise Romanian 
trade unionists. 
 
   b.   The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 
 
Workers have the right to bargain collectively under the 1991 
legislation, but collective bargaining efforts are limited by continued 
state control over most industrial enterprises and the absence of 
independent management representatives.  Basic wage scales for employees 
of state-owned enterprises are established through collective bargaining 
with the State (see Section 6.e.).  According to ICFTU's 1995 survey of 
violations, difficulties arose in the collective bargaining arena in the 
areas of unilateral employer changes to contracts, refusal of 
authorities to register collective agreements, and prevention of union 
organizing by some companies, among others.  In July the Government 
signed a tripartite collective bargaining agreement with CNSLR-FRATIA 
and the National Union of Romanian Employees.  The other major labor 
confederations refused to sign because they questioned the agreement's 
terms and the negotiating process.  In November CNSLR-FRATIA accused the 
Government of failing to comply with the provisions of the agreement.  
The law bars antiunion discrimination by employers.   
 
There are no export processing zones. 
 
   c.   Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 
 
The Constitution prohibits forced or compulsory labor.  The Ministry of 
Labor and Social Protection (MOLSP) effectively enforces this 
prohibition. 
 
   d.   Minimum Age for Employment of Children 
 
The minimum age for employment is 16 years, but children as young as age 
14 or 15 may work with the consent of their parents or guardians, 
although only "according to their physical development, aptitude, and 
knowledge."  Working children under age 16 have the right to continue 
their education, and the law obliges employers to assist in this regard.  
Child labor is not a problem, and children do not work illegally 
routinely.  The MOLSP has the authority to impose fines and close 
sections of factories to enforce compliance with the law, which it 
enforces effectively. 
 
   e.   Acceptable Conditions of Work 
 
Most wage rates are established through collective bargaining at the 
enterprise level.  However, they are based on minimum wages for given 
economic sectors and categories of workers which the Government sets 
after negotiations with industry representatives and the labor 
confederations.  Minimum wage rates are generally observed and enforced.  
In addition, workers and pensioners receive salary increases indexed to 
price increases several times a year.  In 1995 the minimum monthly wage, 
nominally $33 (L 85,000) in December, did not keep pace with inflation 
and did not provide a decent standard of living for a worker and family.  
The Government still partly subsidizes basic necessities such as milk, 
bread, housing, and medical care. 
 
The Labor Code provides for a standard workweek of 40 hours or 5 days, 
with overtime to be paid for weekend or holiday work or work in excess 
of 40 hours.  It also includes a requirement for a 24-hour rest period 
in the workweek, although most workers receive 2 days off.  Paid 
holidays range from 18 to 24 days annually, depending mainly on the 
employee's length of service.  The law requires employers to pay 
additional benefits and allowances to workers engaged in particularly 
dangerous or difficult occupations.   
 
Some labor organizations press for healthier, safer working conditions 
on behalf of their members.  The MOLSP has established safety standards 
for most industries and is responsible for enforcing them.  However, it 
lacks sufficient trained personnel for inspection and enforcement, and 
employers generally ignore its recommendations.  Although they have the 
right to refuse dangerous work assignments, workers seldom invoke it in 
practice, appearing to value increased pay over a safe and healthful 
work environment.  Neither the Government nor industry, still mostly 
state owned, has the resources necessary to improve health and safety 
conditions significantly. 
 
(###)

[end of document]

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