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ROMANIA - “People with intellectual disabilities do have rights!”

August 8th 2014


During 2011, NCCD in partnership with Institute for Public Policy, a nongovernmental organization whose aim is to support an increase the quality of the processes related to the development of public policies in Romania, carried out the project “People with intellectual disabilities do have rights!”. The project was co-financed by the European Commission PROGRESS Programme (2007-2013).

The project started with the documentation regarding the current policies and practices related to the employment of the persons with disabilities in both public and private fields of activities. After an extensive analysis of the legal framework including the text of the recently ratified UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities by the Romanian Parliament, the Institute for Public Policy (IPP) team questioned 41 big municipalities from each county council in Romania and from Bucharest, 41 General Directorates for Social Assistance from the local and Bucharest level, 13 ministries, the members of the National Council for Combating Discrimination and the ones of the Deputies Chamber and the Senate, the representatives of the Romanian Presidency and the ones of the Ministry of Labour (Directorate for Protecting Persons with Disabilities) about how many persons with disabilities have they employed, what are the tasks that were assigned to these persons, what kind of alternative solutions they adopted in the absence of persons with disabilities hired in the institution.

IPP experts also questioned a representative sample of 106 private companies and NGOs from the entire country in order to take into consideration their separate opinions about the chances that persons with disabilities have in finding a suitable job in Romania.

After the very complex documentation that was implemented in the first half of the project, the project team debated the preliminary conclusions in the format of local and national based debates after which they finalized one of the main deliverable project ‐ a comprehensive Diagnosis study. The material has been published and disseminated at the national level, by the two partners.

The experience gained during the initial activities referring to information gathering for carrying out the study on the employment environment for persons with disabilities proved to be very useful for the preparation and carrying out of the three round tables at regional level. These have been carried out in three different cities.

Duty bearers targeted, and their specific obligations (if any)

The project targets the national policy makers but also public and private employers as well as private service providers/NGOs.

The Romanian legislation sets a number of responsibilities in this respect which are applied equally to the public and private sector. Those whose employees’ number is more than 50, must either to employ a certain percentage of persons with disabilities or pay a certain amount to the overall State Budget.

They also have a duty under the Discrimination Act not to discriminate individuals because of their race, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, social category, beliefs, sex or sexual orientation, age, handicap, non contagious chronic disease, HIV infection, belonging to a disfavoured category, as well as any other criterion.

Main objectives of the project

The goal of the project was to endorse the development of coherent policies to combat discrimination and promote equality of opportunities for persons with intellectual disabilities in Romania, by increasing the level of awareness of public opinion on abusive restrictions of the right to labour and self-determination of these persons, through the analysis of the current situation in our country from this perspective and identifying some tools for the relevant actors in the society (responsible authorities, NGOs active in the field of disability and human rights, employers, representatives of target groups).

Also the main objectives of this project were :

  • To provide a thorough assessment at national level of the current situation of employment of people with mental disabilities in Romania and limitations imposed by the national legislation.
  • To foster the dissemination of information on EU policy and legislation in the antidiscrimination field related to disability as well as on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that Romania ratified.
  • To advocate for changes in legislation and practices on the labour market in Romania in order to facilitate a better inclusion of people with mental disabilities.


In the first part of the project a study-diagnosis of the employment environment of persons with disabilities in Romania was made (c). On the occasion of round tables organized at regional level and in Bucharest have been initiated debates starting from the presentation of the current situation of employment of persons with disabilities, as it resulted from the study (h). Also, support‐materials were distributed on the legislation of prevention and combating of discrimination in Romania and EU, other studies and reports regarding the implementation in Romania of the EC Directives implementing the principle of equal treatment (b).

A very important component of the project has been conceiving and implementing the media campaign for raising awareness on discrimination of persons with intellectual disabilities from Romania. After completion and acceptance of the video and audio materials, the campaign was disseminated on the most important public TV and radio channels. In parallel, the video clip was popularized on the social networking websites and viewed and distributed on magnetic media on the occasion of certain NCCD’s actions or of its project partner, IPP.

Key achievements

  1. An objective and comprehensive evaluation of the situation of persons with disabilities in general and of those with intellectual disabilities from the perspective of the employment environment in Romania
    • this evaluation has emphasized the weight of persons with disabilities employed in the public sector in Romania, both within central public administration and at regional level (local)
    • the analysis carried out overviewed the current legal framework regarding the access of persons with disabilities on the labour market and formulated a series of proposals and recommendations, especially as regards to active measures to stimulate the labour market, in view of attracting persons with disabilities to employment
    • the study achieved also presents the perspective of private employers, identifying the most widespread causes why they do not employ persons with disabilities, the main reasons but also their level of appreciation regarding the legal and fiscal incentives granted by the state for the employment of such persons
  2. Conduct and implementation of a media awareness campaign among the Romanian population, regarding the rights of persons with intellectual disabilities, starting from the situations of rejection, marginalization and discrimination these persons are subjected to, taking into account their difficulties in effectively participating to the economic, social or cultural life.
  3. Identification of the main obstacles that are faced with locally both the authorities competent for enforcing legislation on the rights of persons with disabilities in general and of those with intellectual disabilities in particular and non‐governmental organizations active in this area and formulation of proposals of public and legislative policies.
  4. Inclusion, as a result of activities conducted by the project partners of certain relevant provisions in the new law of social assistance adopted by the Romanian Parliament at the end of last year, in order to harmonize this regulatory document with European and international legislation and initiation of procedures of public consultations regarding the amendment of the framework‐law on the protection of persons with disabilities.

Key challenges

The main conclusions of the round tables showed that while the nongovernmental organizations, especially those in the social field, made important steps in offering opportunities for persons with disabilities, the public sector and the private companies’ opportunities are almost inexistent. The private companies insisted that the Romanian policy makers have not taken into consideration that fee market principles when drafting the legislation while the public sector seemed not to act accountable to their constituents. The participants insisted that apart from the legislation, the best practices have a significant impact upon those with potential of offering jobs and that those practices need to be disseminated as wide as possible.