Last edited: December 2005
Summary and Analysis
Romania is currently actively attempting to implement a child protection system similar to the one in the United States and the European Union. Prior to the fall of the totalitarian communist regime in 1989, child protective measures were very limited and mostly defined in the Code of Civil Procedure and Code of the Family. Relevantly, Article 109 of the Code of the Family declared: “If the health or physical development of the child is endangered by the manner in which parental rights are exercised, by abusive behavior or grave negligence in the fulfillment of parental duties, or if the education or professional instruction of the child is not done in the spirit of devotion toward Romania, the court, when requested to do so by the guardian party, will declare the loss of parental rights.”
After the Revolution, Romania ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child on 28 September 1990 by passing Law No. 18/1990. The country enacted a series of emergency laws to improve its child protection system and created the “Departamentul pentru Protectia Copilului” (Department of Child Protection) in 1997. The goal of the 1997 measures was to focus the system on the child's best interest, enact the principle of non-discrimination, de-centralize decision-making power and delegate responsibilities to local public administration, as well as favor family-type alternatives to residential care. The government created several new bodies to further these goals including the Commissions for Child Protection, specialized bodies of the county councils, and specialized public services for the protection of the rights of the child. Further, an Ombudsman was charged with intervening in the case of children's rights' violations, both if notified thereof by children and parents or ex officio. As part of the promotion of the protection of the rights of children the Department of Child Protection has worked to offer counseling for children, including through the establishment of a free “Child Hotline” that children and teenagers could use to report rights violations in the family, at school or in society.
In 2004, Romania passed a major piece of legislation that sought to revamp its child protection system in the spirit of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and using as models the systems that European Union countries have in place. While the new law expanded the rights and liberties of children, it only entered into full force on January 1, 2005, and it is therefore difficult to predict at this early stage whether it will have all the desired consequences. There is agreement, however, that the current system is vastly superior in protecting the rights of children and providing access to the courts than the one that existed before the Revolution in 1989.
The 2004 law specifies that children over 10 years must be heard in all judicial and administrative proceedings that concern them and that children under 10 years may be heard if the court deems it useful. The law does not provide details as to the exact conditions in which children will be heard. Other important provisions include the explicit definition of the respective role of parents, the local government, and the state in the education and development of children as well as the creation of new entities such as an agency whose goal is the coordination of activities that serve to protect the rights of children (the “Autoritatea Nationala pentru Protectia Drepturilor Copilului”, i.e. the National Authority for the Protection of the Rights of the Child). The country is planning to establish specialized juvenile courts, but as of now there is only one experimental juvenile court in function, namely in the city of Brasov.
Sources of Law (in Order of Authority)
Conventie cu privire la drepturile copilului
1) Statele parti vor garanta copilului capabil de discernamant dreptul de a-si exprima liber opinia asupra oricarei probleme care il priveste, opiniile copilului urmand sa fie luate in considerare tinandu-se seama de varsta sa si de gradul sau de maturitate.
2) In acest scop copilului i se va da, in special, posibilitatea de a fi ascultat in orice procedura judiciara sau administrative care il priveste, fie direct, fie printr-un reprezentant sau un organism competent, in conformitate cu regulile de procedura din legislatia nationala.
Cod de procedura civila art. 44.
Daca incapabilul nu are reprezentant legal si exista urgenta, la cererea partii interesate, instanta va putea numi un curator special, care sa-l reprezinte pana la numirea reprezentantului legal; ea va putea numi, de asemenea, un curator special in caz de conflict de interese intre reprezentant si reprezentat sau cand o persoana juridica, chemata sa stea in judecata, nu are reprezentant.
Codul familiei art. 109
Dacã sãnãtatea sau dezvoltarea fizicã a copilului este primejduitã prin felul de exercitare a drepturilor pãrintesti, prin purtarea abuzivã sau prin neglijenta gravã în îndeplinirea îndatoririlor pãrintesti, ori dacã educarea, învãtãtura sau pregãtirea profesionalã a copilului nu se face în spirit de devotament fatã de România, instanta judecãtoreascã, la cererea autoritãtii tutelare, va pronunta decãderea pãrintelui din drepturile pãrintesti.
Lege nr. 272/2004
Art. 6. Respectarea si garantarea drepturilor copilului se realizeaza conform urmatoarelor principii . . . h) ascultarea opiniei copilului si luarea in considerare a acesteia, tinand cond the varsta si de gradul sau de maturitate . . . .
Art. 24 (1) Copilul capabil de discernamant are dreptul de a-si exprima liber opinia asupra oricarei probleme care il priveste.
(2) In orice procedura judiciara sau administrative care il priveste copilul are dreptul de a fi ascultat. Este obligatory ascultarea copilului care a implinit varsta de 10 ani. Cu toate acestea, poate fi ascultat si copilul care nu a implinit varsta de 10 ani, daca autoritatea competenta apreciaza ca audierea lui este necesara pentru solutionarea cauzei.
(3) Dreptul de a fi ascultat confera copilului posibilitatea de a cere si de a primi orice informatie pertinenta, de a fi consultat, de a-si exprima opinia si de a fi informat asupra consecintelor pe care le poate avea opinia sa, daca este respectata, precum si asupra consecintelor oricarei decizii care il priveste.
(4) In toate cazurile prevazute la alin. (2), opiniile copilului ascultat vor fi luate in considerare si li se va acorda importanta cuvenita, in raport cu varsta si cu gradul de maturitate a copilului.
(5) Orice copil cere sa fie ascultat conform dispozitiilor alin. (2) si (3). In caz de refuz, autoritatea competenta se va pronunta printr-o decizie motivate.
(6) Dispozitiile legale speciale privind consimtamantil sau prezenta copilului in procedurile care il privesc, precum si prevederile referitoare la desemnarea unui curator, in caz de conflict de interese, sunt si raman aplicabile.
Art. 91 (2) Pentru semnalarea cazurilor de abuz sau de neglijare a copilului, la nivelul fiecarei directii generale de asistenta sociala si protectia copilului sa infiinteaza obligatoriu telefonul copilului, la carui numar va fi adus la cunostinta publicului.
Art. 95 (1) In cadrul procesului prevazut la art. 94 alin. (3) si (4), se poate administra, din oficiu, ca proba, declaratia scrisa a copilului referitoare la abuzul sau neglijarea la care a fost supus. Declaratia copilului poate fi inregistrata, potrivit legii, prin mijloace tehnice audio-video. Inregistrarile se realizeaza in mod obligatoriu cu asistenta unui psiholog.
(2) Acordul copilului este obligatoriu pentru realizarea inregistrarii declaratiei sale.
(3) Daca instanta judecatoreasca apreciaza necesar, aceasta il poate chema pe copil in fata ei, pentru a-l audia. Audierea are loc numai in camera de consiliu, in prezenta unui psiholog si numai dupa o prealabila pregatire a copilului in acest sens.
Art. 125 (2) Audierea copilului care a implinit varsta de 10 ani este obligatorie si se face cu respectarea prevederilor art. 24, cu exceptia cauzelor care privesc stabilirea unei masuri de protectie speciala pentru copilul abuzat sau neglijat; in acest caz, audierea copilului se face cu respectarea prevederilor art. 95 alin. (3).
Convention on the Rights of the Child
1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.
2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.
Code of Civil Procedure art. 44
If the individual without full capacities does not have a legal representative and there is an emergency, at the request of the interested party, the court will be able to name a special guardian who will represent the individual until the naming of a legal representative; it will also be able to name a special guardian in the case of conflict of interest between the representative and the represented or when a person in a judicial setting does not have a representative.
Code of the Family art. 109
If the health or physical development of the child is endangered by the manner in which parental rights are exercised, by abusive behavior or grave negligence in the fulfillment of parental duties, or if the education or professional instruction of the child is not done in the spirit of devotion toward Romania, the court, when requested to do so by the Tutorial Authority, will declare the loss of parental rights.
Hearing the parents and the Tutorial Authority is mandatory.
Law no. 272/2004
Art. 6 Observing and guaranteeing the rights of the child should be conducted in accordance with the following principles . . . h) hearing the opinion of the child and giving it due weight, in accordance with the age and maturity of the child . . . .
Art. 24 (1) The child who has the capacity to discern has the right to freely express his or her opinion regarding any matter which involves him or her.
(2) The child has the right to be heard in any judicial or administrative procedure which involves him or her. The hearing of the child who has reached the age of 10 years old is mandatory. Nevertheless, the child who has not reached the age of 10 years old may also be heard, if the competent authority deems it necessary, in order to solve the case.
(3) The right to be heard grants to the child the possibility to request and receive any pertinent information, to be consulted, to express his or her opinion, and to be informed about the consequences which his or her opinion may generate, if observed, as well as about the consequences of any decision involving him or her.
(4) In all cases stipulated under paragraph (2), the child's opinions will be taken into consideration, according to the age and degree of maturity of the child.
(5) Any child can request to be heard according to the provisions of paragraphs (2) and (3). If his or her request is denied, the competent authority will issue a motivated decision in this regard.
(6) The special legal provisions regarding the consent or the presence of the child in the procedures which involve him or her, as well as the provisions regarding the appointment of a curator, in case of conflict of interests, are and remain applicable.
Art. 91(2) For the notification of the cases of child abuse or neglect, at the level of each general department for social security and child protection, a “child telephone line” will be established, and the number should be widely publicized.
Art. 95 (1) During the process mentioned under art. 94, paragraphs (3) and (4), the written statement of the child concerning the abuse or neglect situation to which he or she was subjected, may be administered ex-officio as evidence. The child's statement may be recorded, according to the law, through technical audio-visual methods. The recordings are made obligatorily with the assistance of a psychologist.
(2) The child's consent is mandatory for the recording of his or her statement.
(3) If the court of law deems necessary, it may subpoena the child in order to conduct a hearing. The hearing only takes place in the council chamber, in the presence of a psychologist and only subsequent to an initial preparation of the child in this regard.
Art. 125 (2) The hearing of the child who has reached the age of 10 years old is mandatory and it is conducted in accordance with the provisions stipulated under art. 24, with the exception of the cases which concern the establishment of special child protection measures for the abused or neglected child; in such a case, the hearing of the child is conducted in accordance with the provisions stipulated under art. 95, paragraph (3).
Additional Resources and Links
Departamentul pentru Protectia Copilului – Department for Child Protection
Autoritatea Nationala Pentru Protectia Drepturilor Copilului – National Authority for the Protection of the Rights of the Child
Salvati Copii Romania – Save the Children
Drepturile Copiilor Sunt Lege – Child Rights Are Law
 See Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 44 of the Convention: Romania, Committee on the Rights of the Child, at 5, CRC/C/65/Add.19 (July 5, 2002).
 Law no. 272/2004, Art. 24, available at http://www.salvaticopiii.ro/romania/copiii_romania/legislatie/Legeacopilului_272.pdf (Romanian), and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document; http://www.copii.ro/Law272-2004.PDF (English), and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.
 For a more extensive discussion of the changes effected by Law no. 272/2004, see Elemente de Noutate in Legea Privind Protectia si Promovarea Drepturilor Copilului [New Elements in the Law Concerning the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of the Child], available at http://www.copii.ro/Legea_drepturilor_copilului.PDF, and also as .pdf Document.
 This information was provided to us by a local attorney in Bucharest, Romania.
 G.A. Res. 44/125, U.N. GAOR, 44th Session, Supp. No. 49, U.N. Doc. A/44/736 (1989).
 Codul de Procedura Civila [Code of Civil Procedure], available at http://www.dsclex.ro/coduri/cprciv1.htm. All translations to this code are unofficial.
 The translations to the CRC and to Law no. 272/2004 are official. All other translations were provided by a translator of the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization.
Representing Children Worldwide | Copyright 2005 Yale Law School |All Rights Reserved