Criminality Risk Factors Among Migrants and Refugees in Romania



As Romania, at the end on 2017, was home to more than 63.000 migrants outside EU here for  work, studies or family members and more than 4800 asylum seeker requests were registered with Romanian Immigration Office is there a risk of increased level of criminalit y within the country?

The paper presents risk factors of criminality behavior among migrants according to other countries research, data and statistics on incarcerated migrants in Romania and the relationship between the national perspective towards migration and risks of committing crimes, as well as available rehabilitation services for migrants and refugee in Romania.


Table of Contents:

1. Migrants and refugees in Romania

2. Criminality Risk Factors

3. Integration as a solid base to fight criminality risks for migrants and refuge

4. Conclusions/Recommendations


1. Migrants and refugees in Romania

There is a need for a correct terminology when it comes to migrants and refugee semantics.

The migrant chooses to leave the country of origin, temporarily or permanently,  for economic, family, social or cultural reasons. The refugee is forced to leave its native country, often because of conflicts and dangerous situations.

Moreover, in the case of refugees, governments have an obligation to provide protection against return to their country of origin, effective and unhindered access to the asylum procedure, and a range of forms of assistance (material, medical and social).

The guarantee of these rights derives from the 1951 Geneva Convention and the 1967 New York Protocol, international instruments that Romania ratified in 1991. [1]

Over 100.000 migrants (EU and NON-EU) are presently living in Romania, according to official data from Romanian Immigration Inspectorate. Around 63.000 of them are Non-European Migrants and are mostly coming from Moldova, Turkey, China, Syria and Israel.

Since 1991, 30,000 people have applied for asylum in Romania. At the end of May 2018, there were 4056 persons with a form of protection that had a right of residence on the territory of Romania. In 2017, 4820 asylum applications were filed in Romania, an increase up 161% from last year. [2]

According to the Index of Integration of Immigrants in Romania for 2017 published in February 2018 by the Romanian Center for Migration Research, most refugee settled in Romania are from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, given the geographical position of refugees forced journey. Most of them are part of families or social structures and participate on some level within a community (migrant or Romanian).

Generally, immigrants live in less precarious conditions than the urban population in the urban area, but in better conditions than those in rural areas. Compared to the local population living in their own homes/families, almost all immigrants live in rent and spend a large part of their income on renting and maintaining the dwelling. Also, most immigrants (beneficiaries of a form of protection and third country citizens) do not live alone or with their family, but divide the home with other people to cover the costs.

78% of immigrants are self-assessing as being in good health and 76.3% said they did not need medical services in the last year. 44.8% claim discrimination in relation to public transport companies, followed by the General Inspectorate for Immigration (42.9%) and the education units (40.6%); Over 42% of immigrants say they attended courses offered free of charge by education institutions in Romania, and 7.6% in courses offered free of charge by non-governmental  organizations. Nearly 64% of immigrants (BPI and RTT) said they were identified with their country of origin; [3]


2. Criminality Risk Factors

According to Solveig Abrahamsen from the Norwegian Social Research in the research “Risk Factors for Criminal Behavior – A Biopsychosocial Studythere are 5 general types of criminality risk factors: personality traits, social risk factors, biological risk factors, emotional stability and sensation seeking. [4]

From the 5 general types of risk factors, only the social risks factors could be applied in accordance tot the migration background, as the personality traits and biological factors are not related to migration, neither the emotional stability nor sensation seeking factor – which is an individual and personal motivation to commit possible crimes.

Regarding social risk factors observed for refugees or migrants, the first one is poverty, as a result of minimum wage jobs opportunities for lower class migrants and refugees in general, in Romania. The undeveloped social assistance system and lower benefits and the developing economy could affect the living standards of refugees in particular. Even the standard living condition are provided by Romanian legislation there are delays, bureaucracy, challenges in finding jobs, learning the language etc.

Although in Romania, the existence of migration criminal groups is not in evidence, except for migrants smuggling that are international criminal networks in moving people illegally over the borders, a possible change could occur in case of an increasing of migration flows.

A research made by British Council in cooperation with Romanian National Council for Refugees, in 2017 in Bucharest, concluded that there is an overwhelming negative opinion on the reception of refugees and migrants in Romania. The motives differ from a person or a group of persons. The majority of the members of this community are against the reception of refugees and have the possibility (thought political or public affiliation,  the right to vote and to be elected) to advocate against the reception of refugees and migrants in the future. Discrimination could ne flagged as an integration barrier that could affect economic development of refugees and migrants in Romania, that could lead to segregation, low motivation of belonging to the host community and exclusion in general. [5]

In  Romania  according  to  latest  annual  report  of  the  National  Administration of  the Penitentiaries, in 2016 there were less then 300 migrants incarcerated for various crimes (not specified) including illegal residence. There is no other latest statistics on migrants incarcerated.

Most people were from Turkey ( 53 inmates), Bulgaria (45 inmates) and Moldova (34 inmates).

Still, in the Romanian prisons there are inmates with radicalism tendencies, the authorities being prepared to prevent eventualities, according to Marius Vulpe, director of the National Penitentiary Administration (ANP). [6]

On the other hand, 9 Romanian members of parliament or former members of the Romanian Information Service Commission had proposed a modification to security lows in Romania, at the beginning of this year, when the legislative proposal had as reasoning that the assessment of the terrorist threat to Romania has revealed a paradigm change by switching from a generic threat to a one-time threat. [7] The initiators of the low claim that the main sources of terrorist risk to Romanias security are of an external nature (...) The national territory is predominantly a place of transit or refugees, which is in the attention of the foreigners from the countries of the enlarged Middle East and Afghanistan or Pakistan, is mentioned in the explanatory memorandum to the legislative proposal.

Due to the lack of researches in the field of this paper theme, we will take a look at Germany, as it is known as one of the countries with most entries of refugees. Germany experience could be representative for Romanian situation too. An analysis, of combined several data sources, the most important of which are administrative records by the 16 German states, shows that according to the data available for non-terrorism related crime and given the time period for which said data were available, there is little evidence for large increases in crime in the immediate aftermath of refugee inflows in Germany. [8]

The research, published in 2017, shows that street crimes account for a little less than a quarter of crimes in Germany and include all offenses that take place in the public sphere such as handbag-snatching, damages to motor vehicles, theft from kiosks and show windows, bike- nicking, breaking of vending machines, and (attempted) robberies of money vans. The analysis detects no differential increases in these crimes in counties that host more refugees. Nor is there any indication that the number of non-German suspects for street crimes is associated with migrant inflows.

Also, the German Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA), claims that crimes committed by refugees stood at the same level as those committed by native Germans. These findings are the result of an initial evaluation conducted by the BKA in cooperation with all federal states and commissioned by the Ministry of the Interior. [9]


3. Integration as a solid base to fight criminality risks for migrants and refuge

According to UNHCR Refugee Integration Note in Central Europe” the process of integration  of  refugees in Central  Europe is divided into two parts: the socio -economic dimension and the socio-cultural dimension of integration. Integration of migrants could represent the most effective instrument in fighting crimes. [10]

The  first  aspect  of integration  into  a society,  for people  who  have  received  a form of protection from a state, is the accommodation. It is part of the socio-economic component of integration and  is  defined  by UNHCR  as  the  need  for  adequate  shelter,  which  means  a framework of adequate privacy, adequate space, safety, lighting and ventilation, the basic infrastructure and appropriate location for access to the labour market and facilities base (educational institutions, medical system, etc.).

Access to the labour market and active participation in the economic life of the country of destination is the second basic principle regarding the socio-economic integration of refugees, according to UNHCR. Access to employment must be through education and training. Finding a job can be facilitated by simplified processes of recognition of diplomas, language learning programs for the destination country, providing adequate support and advice, etc.

Education for refugee children and adults is the pillar of socio-economic integration, but also a right in itself, and a means of exerting other human rights. Seen as a stimulating right, education can be the main vehicle for refugees, whether adults or children, to escape poverty and to have the means they need to get fully involved in the Asylum Community[11] according to UNHCRs 2007-2009 Education Strategy and emphasizes the very important role of educational and recreational activities in order to restore the normality and routine status of refugee children and adolescents.

Health is in itself a fundamental human right without which other human rights cannot be exercised.  Everyone  is entitled  to the highest  standards of health that provide a dignified lifestyle. Refugees face health problems both because of the lack of healthcare in their country of origin, the persecution they have been subjected to, and the travel to the destination country.

The legal provisions provide access for persons with a form of protection to medical services under the same conditions as their own citizens.

A  component  to consider for refugees’ access to the  health system in the country of destination is the need for psychological services. A study by the University of Verona, Italy, on the mental disorders common to asylum seekers and refugees in 2017, found that up to 40% of the target group are experiencing depressions and anxiety but also post-traumatic stress. [12] Social protection.

UNHCR supports refugee access to an adequate standard of living for food, clothing,  housing and social services,  based on the Universal Declaration  of Human Beings. Refugees need the social assistance and protection of the country of destination, to meet basic needs and to achieve a degree of financial independence and to overcome vulnerability.

The second component of refugee integration, the socio-cultural component is based on language  learning  and  cultural  orientation  courses.  To  be  able  to  achieve  a  level  of independence and self-support, refugees must be assisted to learn the language of the country of destination and know basic information about the host country.

Teaching language courses and cultural orientation should be made taking into account factors that may influence learning abilities such as education, age, gender, physical and mental health, previous trauma and torture, family responsibilities, and housing or economic circumstances.

Building bridges and fostering participation is UNHCRs second pillar in the socio-cultural integration  of  refugees.  Promoting  the  positive  aspects  of  a  diversified  society  and  the interaction between refugees and the local community is a basis for the integration process of refugees that leads to their active involvement in the democratic process and the formulation of policies and integration measures.

The last aspect of the socio-cultural component of refugee integration is unity and family reunification, a principle that respects the family as the natural and basic cell of society. This principle stipulates that States providing protection for refugees should be given access to the family  reunification  procedure  with  familmembers  outside  the  host  country.  Precisely, refugees can request the transfer to the host country of family members with a family status.

In  Romania  there  are  services  preventing  criminality  among  refugees  trough  social counseling provided by integration officers from 5 Regional Centers (Timisoara, Bucuresti, Galati, Giurgiu, Suceava and Baia Mare) and unitary social and legal counseling provided by NGO that implement European Projects (Asylum, Migration and Integration Fond ) in 5 regions in Romania, covering all the migrant population ( including refugees). [13]

When it comes to the services for the convicted migrants, there are a few NGO that provide legal assistance to refugee/asylum seekers that are being incarcerated in Romanian detention system, such as CNRR – National Romanian Council for Refugees. The low requires the use of translator in native language during all procedural acts. [14]


4. Conclusions/Recommendations

Fighting discrimination that causes segregation and that could lead to poverty, exclusion and increase criminal risks factors is the main conclusion of this paper.

Also, a stronger use of intercultural mediators as mentors and counselors and more community awareness initiatives of cultural exchange as a social instrument implemented by governmental actors (not only NGO that have limited resources or authority) is needed for a better integration of migrants. Also, more research is needed for a better understanding of risks of extremism indoctrination during incarceration in Romanian prisons.


Contributo selezionato da Filodiritto tra quelli pubblicati nei Proceedings “7th SPECTO 2018”

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Contribution selected by Filodiritto among those published in the Proceedings “7th SPECTO 2018”

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