CADO and NCCD win at High Court of Cassation and Justice in Romania in a case of school segregation of Roma children!

24 Feb 2020

On 20th February 2020, the High Court of Cassation and Justice in Romania overturns the decision of the Iasi Court of Appeal of 2017, which revoked the decision of the National Council for Combating Discrimination of 2016, which held responsible Bogdan Petriceicu Hasdeu School and the Iași County School Inspectorate for racial segregation of Roma pupils in one of the 7 buildings of the school (http://www.scj.ro/1094/Detalii-dosar?customQuery%5B0%5D.Key=id&customQuery%5B0%5D.Value=4500000000024874).

In April 2016, the Advocacy and Human Rights Centre (CADO) filed a complaint with the National Council for Combating Discrimination (NCCD) against the Bogdan Petriceicu Hașdeu School from Iasi and the Iasi County School Inspectorate for segregation of Roma children. The specific reasons for the complaint were that while in this school the students were studying in 7 different buildings, the majority of Roma students, who represented over 50% of the total number of students in that school, were placed in the C Building. A group of Roma parents complained about the quality of the education, as most children could not read and write even after the end of the 4th grade and because most teachers of these students are substitute or retired teachers. The case was identified during the monitoring of school segregation of Roma children in more than 112 localities of the Moldova region which occurred during 2015-2016. The findings of the monitoring showed that in 50% of the localities, Roma children are facing one of the forms of segregation in education (http://www.cado.org.ro/raportul-de-monitorizare-a-segregarii-scolare-in-regiunea-nord-est.html).

NCCD’s decision in 2016 was that the placement in a single building of the Roma children, while the school has and uses several buildings for the rest of the pupils and the lenience of this situation by the Iasi County School Inspectorate represent discrimination and a violation of the right to dignity, according to O.G. 137/2000 regarding the prevention and sanctioning of all forms of discrimination. As a result, the NCCD fined Bogdan Petriceicu Hașdeu-Iași School with 3000 RON and the Iași County School Inspectorate with 5000 RON.

In 2017, the Iași Appeal Court overturned the decision of the CNCD on the grounds that the situation reported by CADO is due to the geographical proximity and not to the ethnicity of the pupils, which is an extrinsic aspect. The low level of education and poor facilities of the C building represent not an act of discrimination but an unfortunate situation, as the school and the County School Inspectorate have tried during 10 years to improve the situation; and that the instruction of the students by substitute teachers or retrained teachers is not an argument for discrimination of Roma children; and that on the contrary, the discrimination claim is damaging the dignity of those professors.

Thus, after 4 years, the ruling of the Romanian Highest Court maintains the NCCD decision, namely that the placement of the students in Corps C is segregation and an act of racial discrimination.

ICCJ Decision can be accessed at this link  http://www.cado.org.ro/uploads/Litigation/Decizia_1015_2020_iccj.pdf