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U.S. Department of State criticizes Romania on mistreatement of detainees, Roma discrimination and corruption

The U.S. Department of State Report on Human Rights Practices for 2016 criticizes Romania for mistreatment of detainees and Roma people, generalized corruption - in spite of Government efforts to address systemic corruption - and discrimination against Roma, which affected their access to adequate education, housing, health care, and employment, according to the www.state.gov website.

The document also mentions that unlike the 2014 presidential elections in which electoral observers noted irregularities, including insufficient polling stations for the large diaspora community, the parliamentary elections in December 2016 were generally considered by observers to be free and fair and without irregularities.

The report mentions that prison conditions remained harsh and did not meet international standards.

According to official figures, overcrowding was a problem, particularly in a number of prisons that did not meet the standard area per prisoner set by the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture.

"As of July, the country held 28,278 persons in prisons that had space for only 18,826. While observers noted some improvements in certain areas — mainly in existing spaces or as a consequence of greater spending on repair and retrofitting — conditions remained generally poor within the prison system," the document mentions.

According to reports by the National Penitentiary Administration, in the first eight months of the year, 58 persons died in prisons, three from suicide and 55 from various illnesses.

"There were continued reports of violence and discrimination against women. There were some anti-Semitic acts and statements, and Holocaust denial continued to be a problem. Anti-Semitic, racist, xenophobic, and nationalistic views continued to be disseminated via the internet," the Department of State report also reads.

Another problem mentioned in the document is that government agencies provided inadequate assistance to persons with disabilities and did not respect standards of care for persons with disabilities in institutions, exposing them to abuse.

Societal discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons, particularly children, remained at high levels. Persons with HIV/AIDS continued to be subject to discrimination and harassment, the quoted report reads.

The report also reveals that the Romanian judiciary took steps to prosecute and punish officials who committed abuses. "Authorities repeatedly delayed lawsuits involving alleged police abuse, which in many cases resulted in acquittals," the document points out.

In the assessed interval, there were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.

"The government generally respected judicial independence but failed to provide sufficient personnel, physical space, and technology to enable the judiciary to act swiftly and efficiently, thereby resulting in excessively long trials," the U.S. Department of State's report on Human Rights Practices also says.