To the attention of:
Council of Europe – Committee of Ministers
Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian
Council of Europe – Parliamentary Assembly
Mrs Liliane Maury Pasquier
Council Europe – Commissioner for Human Rights
Mrs Dunja Mijatović
Ref: Call for Immediate Action from the Council of Europe to Prevent the Loss of Human Lives due to the deficiencies of the emergency response system and institutionalised sexism in Romania
Necuvinte Association is a non-guvernmental legal entity with non-patrimonial, apolitical, independent purpose, organized according to Law no. 246/2005, having as main activity the fight against domestic violence, violation of fundamental human rights and abuses against women and children. Necuvinte Association is a member of Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE), the VOLUM Federation, the Federation of Non-Governmental Organizations for Social Services(FONSS), and Breaking Silence Against Sexual Violence.
Romania was shocked by the case from Caracal, Olt county that came to the public attention on Friday, July 26 – the kidnaping, raping and killing of two teenagers. This tragic case has highlighted the systemic failures of the Romanian state to protect the live of its citizens. Romania has blatantly violated art. 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights. Pursuant to the jurisprudence of the European Court, states are under the positive obligation to take appropriate steps to safeguard the lives of persons under its jurisdiction. Thus, one of the most relevant means of protecting the lives of human beings is the emergency services provided, chiefly policing. Over the past years, the Romanian authorities have failed terribly at locating and intervening in urgent cases. The main issues have been the failure of the authorities to locate the victims, the failure and great delay in intervening, and the sexist attitude of police officers against female victims.
Necuvinte Association kindly requests the urgent appointment of a Rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly and a qualified Opinion of the Commissioner for Human Rights. This is greatly needed in order to document the shortcomings of the current legal provisions and practices in effect in Romania and to provide top advice on overcoming this tragic state of affairs. In essence, we need your help to prevent the death of others.
A 66-year-old man from Caracal, Olt county (Oltenia region), has been taken for hearings on Friday, July 26th, as he was a suspect in a potential murder case. Burned human remains and jewels have been found in a barrel in the suspect’s house. Two teen girls have been gone missing while hitchhiking: Alexandra-Mihaela Măceșanu, a 15 years old girl missing from 24th of July and Luiza Mihaela Melencu, 18 years old, missing from April 14.
The case came to the public attention and nationwide shock, after Alexandra-Mihaela Măceșanu called on Thursday, July 25th, the national emergency line 112, 3 times saying that she was kidnaped, raped, that she was tied with metallic wires, giving the operator and the police as many details as she could. Her last words, according to the declarations made in a press conference by Ioan Buda, the former chief of the General Inspectorate of Romanian Police, were: „He’s coming, he’s coming….”. After that, the call got interrupted. The operator tried to call back 9 times, according with their official statement, after the girl was killed and the case went viral. (details found out later). The STS service had delivered wrong locations where the girl might be, one area in the Apuseni Mountains and another three incorrect locations, following the girl’s three calls to 112. Her calls to 112 were made Thursday, July 25th around 11 am.
The official statement from STS Special Telecommunication Service – the authority that has the national emergency line 112: https://www.sts.ro/en/press-releases/public-clarification1564388882.
From that point, all the implicated public authorities started to blame eachother for what we were about to find out that happened and the horific details.
“It has been a call from the girl who has been gone missing since July 24, the STS reported us an area in the Apuseni Mountains and three other wrong locations. The police officers from Olt went there, but found nothing. The Dolj Police saw a car that had appeared on the video footage several times. Following searches this morning several human remains and jewels had been found in a barrel”, said Georgian Drăgan, the Romanian Police spokesperson.
Investigators revealed that police officers had conducted a raid at one of the addressed on Friday following the GPS data on the girl’s mobile, but apparently the rescue operation was lingered as the police had no search warrant.
The desperate call of Alexandra, the kidnapped girl, has been also made public.
“I am in an old house, almost an abandoned house, there is grass in the courtyard. It is a car service, it has two shepherd dogs,” the girl would have told 112 operators, according to Police sources.
“After the call investigators came on the scene, but no one entered as they had no warrant. 3-4 police cars came and they walked in front of the court until 6 a.m. when they eventually entered for they had got the search warrant”, the sources said. They arrived at the address around 3 am and waited in front of the suspected house until 6 am when the warrant came into validity. From the police declarations, when they enter the location, the suspect was awake and walking in the courtyard.
Preliminary information show that the jewels found in the barrel would belong to the girl who went missing on the 24th of July. Police officers on the scene found a complete mess at the suspect’s place, with the courtyard full of disabled car parts and the warehouse being stocked with garbage and old furniture pieces.
On Friday, July 26th, the suspect, 66 years old Gheorghe Dincă, was arrested for 30 days being accused of rape and human trafficking. He denied all accusations, including knowing the two girls and of killing them. He is an auto mechanic and living alone. He is married and has four children. They live separated.
The case has been taken by The Direction for the Investigation of Organised Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) and during another search of the premises on Saturday, July 27th, Gheorghe Dincă admitted the kidnaping, raping and killing of the two teenagers. During the searches, the investigators found old bones; human ash and human teeth that they say are older than April 2019 – the date of Luiza’s disappearance.
He admitted to raping Luiza for 3 months and killing her in July and of raping and killing Alexandra after she was caught calling the national emergency line, also he gave details of the places the body were taken and the modus operandi. The details are horrific.
The new minister of Internal Affairs, Nicolae Moga together with the chief of Police Ioan Buda and one of the General Inspectorate of the Romanian Police deputies, Florian Dragnea went to Caracal, Olt county to manage the investigation. Decisions taken when they arrived in Caracal:
- removing Ioan Buda as Chief of Police and investing the deputy, Florian Dragnea as Chief of Police for the duration of this investigation;
- changing all the local chiefs and deputies from Olt Police County;
- bringing the chief of the Public Order Department from the National Police as interim to the command of Olt County Police.
In all this period of time, both the Ministry of Internal Affairs and The General Inspectorate of the National Police kept quiet, the only declarations were short ones made to the press, but no official communications regarding the case.
On Monday, 29 of July, the Ministry of Internal Affairs made declarations to the press for the first time after the horrific crimes and said they reported to the Prosecutor’s Office, following Caracal’s Crime Control Corps checks, of how the policeman who took over Alexandra’s 112 call treated the girl’s situation. At the same time, five officers and three agents will be investigated, Mediafax reports.
“At the same time, the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the Caracal Court was informed of the order to analyse and dispose of the factual situation withheld by the police agent who took over the 112 call from Alexandra” the Ministry of the Interior declared.
Special Telecommunication Service STS:
The State Secretary Raed Arafat admitted that the current 112 infrastructure can’t determine the exact location and promised to push the implementation of the AML system.
„The Special Telecommunications Service initiated in 2017 the implementation of the Advanced Mobile Location (AML) solution, which allows the operator to locate the call at the time of the call, together with the four mobile operators – Orange, Vodafone, Digi, Telekom – and ANCOM. In order for the AML to become operational, the legislation should have been amended. In addition, the contract for the modernisation of the National Emergency Emergency National Infrastructure (SNUAU) was blocked in court because of many complaints.
STS has deployed a pilot platform for receiving and processing location information in AML format and has conducted tests with mobile operators. Following the tests, mobile operators confirmed that they can retrieve and transmit location data in AML format, but only on new and state-of-the-art smartphone terminals. At STS level, these data can be retrieved and displayed as location information in GIS applications.” – according to official statements
The STS has also an application called „Apel112” and a SMS number 113 – both of them not being promoted by the state. According to governmental sources, this two methods were not promoted because they were afraid of false alarms and using governmental resources for false callings. Having to call 112, the operator asks for all the caller data, before connecting the caller to the requested support system. Furthermore, a test made by journalists revealed serious shortcomings as the app can only be used when there is a good internet connection. In Alexandra’s case, one of her attempts took her 20 minutes being on the phone with both the 112 operator and the police and still, after 20 minutes the call could not be trace.
The Prosecuto’s Office:
After the case came to national attention, the police placed the blame on the case prosecutor, who allegedly refused to give the police officers the right to enter the suspected rapist house (at that point). The public declarations are confusing regarding this aspect. The former chief of police, Ioan Buda declared on TV on Friday night that the police had the right to enter that house even without the prosecutors accord.
Other police officers working on this case declared that the case prosecutor had the phone closed during the night and they couldn’t reach him. The prosecutor’s office declared that the police had the address of the suspected rapist on Thursday, July 25th at 9 pm and they didn’t enter because they had no police officers available for this mission. Later on, different police representatives from Bucharest, Dolj and Vâlcea counties were detached to work this case.
Their declarations are confusing, moving the blame from one institution to another, but the reality remains that all of them treated this case with reluctance, negligence and in the end, could not protect Alexandra’s fundamental right to live.
All the involved institutions also place the blame on the political atmosphere and the attacks on the justice system that weakened their capabilities in the past two years. There is some truth to this, but the main problem remains the de-professionalization of the justice system employees.
Monday, July 29, first deputy of STS, brigadier general Sorin Balan, stated at the hearings of the Chamber of Deputies’ Defence Committee, that STS did not provide the three wrong addresses to the Police, because in case of calls initiated from a mobile phone, the information is graphic, and a postal address can only be given for fixed telephony.
“We do not provide postal addresses for specialised intervention agencies except in cases where the 112 call is made from a fixed telephone. We have not provided the three addresses, nor can we, I would like to inform you that the location information taken from mobile operators are displayed in a graphical format both to the STS operator and to all other agencies, including the Police, we did not provide addresses. (…) Accessing location information was available in the system from the first call – 11.05 – and the opening of the localisation application for the first time to the police operator was 12.08. There were requests from the police operator to provide support for the use of the viewing software for the projection of information, which is also (…) last (support – no) at 12.32 “, he said in the Defence Committee.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and the General Inspectorate of the Romanian Police did no attend the hearings.
To sum up: it took the Romanian police no less than 19 hours from the moment Alexandra called the 112 emergency services to enter the house of the suspect. The police officer that spoke with Alexandra opened the geo-location tracking system 1 hour after her call. The court order to enter the home of the suspect was obtained at 03.00 am, though there was no need for a court order. The police stayed in front of the house, in the street, while the suspect was destroying evidence. They entered the house at 06.00.
All this brings us to the main problem: violence against women and girls in Romania and the sexist justice system that is supposed to help and save them. Women are mocked and their suffering ignored by the state institutions, which often leads to their death.
Before these two girls became the national focus point, before being raped and killed in horrific ways, they were two cases of missing persons. Two teenagers that left home and never came back. Two girls that were reported to the police as missing.
From what we know so far: On Wednesday, July 24th, Alexandra’s father went to the police and said that his girl had disappeared. He explained the context and allegedly (from his own declarations) he received a hallucinating answer: “Come on, what the hell … you know how girls are today … she will come back tomorrow or the day after tomorrow with her boyfriend!“.
Then, when 112 calls arrived, the cops took the girl’s father from home, and at the first two searches, they said, “Come on, you break the door, we do not go in … look, there is also a dog …“.
The girl’s father broke the door in the first two searches, and at the last address they did not take him. Then, on Friday, at 5:00 am, the father was called to come to the suspected rapist address. Caracal Police Chief Nicolae Mirea then told the father: “If she’s with her lover, you’ll pay all this searches!” Even this small details are not according with the legal procedures, only investigators can participate în the search mission, it was just an intimidation attempt and another mocking of the victim coming from the police. 
Romania general situation:
Every year, there are around 40.000 complains registered at the police regarding domestic violence and many other related to human trafficking, disappearance, sexual assault – the majority of them having victims women and children. Although, the justice system is sensitive to the crimes against children, when we are dealing with teenagers and women, both the police and the prosecutors remain sexist.
From an average of 40.000 cases, only 2% get to court and get convicted.
Romania ranks 7th in the European top of spending due to discrimination and violence according to the European Institute for Gender Equality (IEEG) report in 2015, which estimates that the European Union has economic costs of 380,9 billion euros annually to combat domestic and gender-based violence.
The total of € 380.9 billion is divided between costs with combating domestic violence against women (€ 109.1 billion), costs with combating domestic violence against children and men (€ 13.1 billion) and costs with combating gender-based violence (€ 258,7 billion).
On the first places are: Germany – € 60.7 billion, France – € 49.5 billion, UK – € 48 billion, Italy – € 45 billion, Spain – € 35.5 billion, Poland – € 29.5 billion, Romania – € 15.3 billion.
In Romania, the total cost of € 15.3 billion is divided between costs with combating domestic violence against women (€ 4.3 billion), costs with combating violence against children and men (€ 0.5 billion) and costs with combating gender-based violence (€ 10.3 billion).
The announced amounts takes into account the expenses due to the loss of work productivity related to workplace absences or the days when the victim was unable to carry out normal activities, as well as the money lost by the employee and the employer, the health expenses, the acts of justice, social assistance expenses and related expenses, including those related to emotional and psychological counseling.
Practically, Romania’s total spending on combating domestic violence and gender represents 9.6% of GDP (6.4% gender-based violence and 3.2% domestic violence), while at EU level it stands at 2.5 % of GDP (1.7% gender violence and 0.7% domestic violence).
The Romanian Ministry of Health (M.H.) studied which are the most common causes of death for women. According with their research in Romania, domestic violence is in the top 30 causes of death in women, out of a total of 51. In the case of men, according to the same report, domestic violence is not a cause of death.
Romania went through two other tragic events that showed the inefficiency of the interventional institutions of the state:
- The plane crash from Apuseni mountains in 2014
The analysis of the search and rescue of victims of the accident, which took place late, revealed a number of shortcomings of the national emergency management system, including some specific regulations or procedures, as well as communication between the responsible institutions. As a result, some of the leaders in the structures responsible for victim search and rescue resigned. Promises were made, nothing changed. As a result of the acceident and the incapability of the state to intervene, two people died and other 4 were severly wounded.
The fire in the Club Colective took place on the night of Friday October 30, 2015, inside a club located in Sector 4 in Bucharest, in a former hall of the Pioneer factory. The fire broke out during a free concert of Goodbye to Gravity band. 64 people died in the club and after, in the hospitals and 186 were wounded. Again, the emergency system said they are going to improve and apologize for the tragedy, but still nothing improved since then.
Commission launches infringement procedures over 112 emergency phone number, unjustified geo-blocking and EU-wide cybersecurity rules
The European Commission decided to pursue infringement procedures against a number of Member States following their failure to meet their obligations related to the Digital Single Market. The Commission will send reasoned opinions for failing to notify the full transposition of the EU law on accessibility of the websites and mobile applications (Directive (EU) 2016/2102). In addition, the Commission has decided to send letters of formal notice to a number of EU countries. Firstly, to Austria, Belgium, Greece, Hungary, Romania, and Slovenia for failing to submit information about operators of essential services identified under the EU law on the security of network and information systems (Directive (EU) 2016/1148). 
Domestic violence victims in Romania are still unprotected in the face of the abuser, although there are two protection orders available in the legislation: the emergency protective order issued by the court within maximum 72 hours with a validity up to 6 months and another instrument, a provisional protective order valid for 5 days, issued by the police. Although both instruments are useful, the state still can’t provide an efficient monitoring system.
On July 16, 2019, the Ministry of Internal Affairs published a legislative proposal for public debate regarding electronic monitoring in judicial and criminal enforcement procedures, as well as the modification and completion of some normative acts. 
Although the intention is good, in essence is only a delay tactic, the proposal being made as a legislative one which will take the Parliament course, meaning that the effective monitoring bracelets won’t be available sooner than 2-3 years. The Romanian legislation already has the necessary provisions to implement the monitoring system.
National legislation provides for the use of “electronic surveillance systems” in order to ensure the legal obligations imposed on certain categories of persons.
The first such regulations were introduced in the Law No. 135/2010 on the Criminal Code Procedure, which refers to the defendant’s obligation to permanently carry an electronic surveillance system as a measure ordered by the judiciary in the judicial control. Article 215 (2) (c)]. With respect to this measure, Law no.253 / 2013 on the execution of punishments, educational measures and other non-custodial measures ordered by the judicial bodies during the criminal trial establishes that the supervision of the fulfillment of the obligation is done under the conditions established by special law (art. 83 (2)]
Also, the Code of Criminal Procedure establishes the possibility for the judge of rights and freedoms, the judge of the preliminary chamber or the court to order that, during the period of the house arrest, the defendant always has an electronic surveillance system (Article 221, para. 3)]. In addition, the Law no.254 / 2013 on the execution of sentences and detention measures ordered by the judicial bodies during the criminal trial stipulates that in the case where, when the house arrest measure is ordered, it is established that the defendant shall wear an electronic device surveillance, according to art. 221 par. (3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the manner of its use, as well as the conditions regarding the transmission, modification and storage of the data obtained through the electronic surveillance shall be established by the regulation for the application of this law [art.124 paragraph (2)].
Subsequently, this concept of electronic surveillance/monitoring was also taken over by domestic violence regulations. Thus, Law No. 217/2003 on the prevention and combating of domestic violence establishes the possibility of issuing interim protection orders or protection orders when there is an imminent risk that the life, physical integrity or freedom of a person may be endangered by – an act of domestic violence. Under these protection orders, an aggressor may be required to permanently carry an electronic surveillance system.
See infra, a brief presentation of only a few of the famous cases presented nationwide.