BUCHAREST: Romania’s anti-discrimination council on Monday slapped a $180-fine on President Traian Basescu for offensive remarks made four years ago against the Roma, one of the country’s largest ethnic minorities.
“It’s not the first time that the president makes such discriminatory remarks, that’s why we decided to fine him,” Istvan Haller, a spokesman for the Council told AFP. The presidency did not immediately react to the decision.
In 2010, during a visit to Slovenia, Basescu alleged that “many nomadic Roma live from what they steal”. Over 30 human rights organisations slammed the president’s comments as “racist” and Roma rights group Romani Criss lodged a complaint.
“The Council’s decision is very important. It is the first time a Romanian president has to pay a fine because of discriminatory remarks against the Roma”, Marian Mandache, Romani Criss’s executive director, told AFP.
“The fine is low but it sends a clear message: even if you are president, when you make discriminatory comments you will get a sanction”, he added.
Basescu had already received two warnings from the CNCD anti-discrimination council over anti-Roma remarks: in 2007, after calling a journalist a “dirty Gypsy” and in 2011 for accusing Roma of “stealing” in buses.
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