Open letter to Mr. Marcel Ciolacu, Prime Minister, Government of Romania
Dear Prime Minister,
The Center for Legal Resources (CLR), a non-governmental human rights organization, founded in 1998 by the Open Society Foundation (Soros), has been running the “Advocate for Dignity” programme since October 2003. In almost 20 years, CLR has been the only organization in Romania to request and organize unannounced visits to tens of thousands of people, minors, adults and elderly people with disabilities, institutionalized in social care home and psychiatric hospitals. The work of the CLR has also been recognized by the judgment of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (“CLR on behalf of Valentin Câmpeanu v. Romania”) but especially by the testimonies of people with disabilities “released” from the social protection system where they experienced humiliation, beatings, have been trafficked, and deprived of their freedom.
Because we appreciate the humane manner in which you have addressed the serious problem of human rights violations in the private but publicly funded social care home in Ilfov County, taking into account the provisions of Law No. 115 of 1999 and MLSS Order No. 308 of 2022, we call for the dismissal of the Minister of Labour, Marius Constantin Budăi, who is morally responsible for perpetuating the abuses taking place in these social care homes.
Below we will restate some of the reasons behind our request, which show that the Minister was aware of all these facts, but instead of fighting against these human rights violations, he has been busy restricting the work of the CRJ in order to hide these violations:
The Minister of Labour and Social Solidarity, Marius Constantin Budăi, was notified by the CLR about the serious human rights violations in the social care homes in Ilfov county by CLR addresses no. 147 /07.11.2022, 65/23.02.2023, 23/26.01.2023, 33/01.02.2023;
Address no. 581/DGJ/31.03.2023 signed by Mr. Budăi, notified the CLR that it unilaterally terminates the cooperation agreement for unannounced visits to social care homes – the reason given by the Minister in point 3 being that “the CLR has not blurred the image of some beneficiaries”. The images to which the Minister referred were contained in a video uploaded as they were part of the contents for the report on St. Gabriel the Brave Association Social Care Home. These images were intended for him to observe the manner in which people with disabilities are “treated” by the social services provider, licensed by the Ministry he headed;
Minister Budăi and the Secretary of State Vasilcoiu announced at a national conference held in Bucharest with DGASPC directors that “we have got rid of CLR visits”. Thus, the top management of the Ministry of Labour has not only taken note of the monitoring reports and complaints submitted by the CLR, but it has also tried to stop these activities in the future. Most probably they had the aim of hiding and not allowing the investigation of conditions leading to human rights violations. For this reason, taking into account the work of the current criminal investigation bodies, we wonder whether the act of duty breach of the two senior public officials should not also be investigated.
Proof that the public social assistance system was connected with the management of private social service providers in Ilfov County is also provided by the transcripts circulating on the internet – the employees were trying to intimidate and dismantle the CLR that was bothering them. As the transcripts have been in the public space for some time, in case you haven’t seen them, we will attach them for your information.
Dear Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu, the first moral author of these abuses is in front of you: the management of the Ministry of Labour, Mr. Budăi tried to hide these facts, including by stopping the activity of the CLR so that he would no longer be bothered with complaints to which he would have to respond.
Prime Minister, if the Minister of Labour in your cabinet had done his job, the people on whom, out of empathy, you could not cast your eyes, might have had a chance not to be subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment for several months.
The dismissal of some people from the management structure of the Ministry of Labour does not absolve the main management of the Ministry of Labour, namely that of Mr Budăi. Instead of saving the lives of beneficiaries, he chose to take on an NGO – CLR, in this case, for reasons that we trust you will clarify.
CLR calls for the resignation of the leadership of the Ministry of Labour and insurance that the next Minister of Labour is a person of integrity and resumes the cooperation agreement with CLR, urgently adopts new legal procedures for licensing private social service providers and ensuring that ALL people with disabilities and all elderly are treated with dignity in the community and have access to adequate means of petitioning and defending their fundamental rights.
Programme Manager Advocate for Dignity
Center for Legal Resources
The letter was signed and supported by 65 NGOs
Transcripts from the public sphere:
S.G.: My question to you was another one…do you agree to be our head of the social care home for a month? Stop laughing, until my license comes out?
S.G.: Because he asked for my decision as head of the social care home, for the final license, that’s the only thing I don’t have!
P.G.: Since there is no more CLR, I was about to fight them! (n.l. laughs)
S.G.: (Addressing a person nearby: Did you hear what he said? As long as there is no CLR, he agrees!)
P.G.: Otherwise I’d be fighting with them!
S.G.: (Addressing a person near him: So, put him in charge of the social care home, put him with time in advance and we’ll send him to sign and send it to us!)
P.G.: For a fee, right?
S.G.: Come on, man, I understand you’re sick, but no…
P.G.: Well, yes, but from sickness ideas arise!
S.G.: You’re starting to become delusional, delusional, aren’t you?
P.G.: Yes, yes…
S.G.: Come on, forget it, it’s no problem, you know I’m never in debt!
P.G.: They didn’t have anything to comment on, did the economic department give you feedback?
S.G.: No, they still don’t let the party…
P.G.: They don’t let the party give you feedback?
P.G.: Ok and did the economic department find anything?
P.G.: Then you’re fine!
S.G.: Yes, that’s what I said! Can’t we disband this CLR (worker’s note: NGO Centre for Legal Resources)?
P.G.: There’s no way…
P.G.: It’s a longer story, I’ll tell you when we’re having coffee!
S.G.: I’d abolish it, it’s rubbish!
P.G.: Well, I know, but it’s not up to us, the court, the court, boss!
S.G.: It’s up to the court, isn’t it? They’re not licensed anywhere, they’re not…
S.G.: I understand, but what right do they have, then?
P.G.: They have that contract with these people!
S.G.: Well, that contract has to go!
P.G.: He’s an idiot, that’s why I’m telling you, I’ll tell you when I see you!
S.G.: Well, yes, he has to be fired, one who has…
P.G.: I… in a word. Come on, I’m with these guys here, I’ll call you when I’m done, please, okay?
S.G.: He’s got good plumbing…
P.G.: Yes, yes… well, send me the invoice to see how much it is, this one you made!”
Source: Judecata de acum Podcast