Rule of Law in Tough Times–A Case Study on the Romanian Sanctioning Policy During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Laura Ștefan, Cezara Grama


The COVID-19 pandemic was a genuine stress test for societies around the globe. Societal values were put under public scrutiny, while fear reigned supreme allowing large margins of maneuver for governments in taking restrictive measures promising at least to win some time for health systems to adapt to the new challenges. Along with health systems governments, judicial systems and societies at large had to change the way they function to face the pandemic. In this paper we will present a case study on Romania and the usage of sanctioning mechanisms by the Police and Gendarmerie during the state of emergency, March 16–May 14, 2020. We will explore the challenges regarding the adoption of a sound legal basis for restrictive measures in line with the constitutional provision and the actual implementation of these restrictions with a focus on the performance of two enforcement institutions – the Romanian Police and the Gendarmerie – in this process. In times of crisis, or particularly in times of crisis when the government enjoys even more power than usual, the governmental action must be transparent to build trust and ensure that abuses do not happen. Moreover, the data gathered during the first wave of COVID-19 could help shape public policies for the subsequent waves with the view to improve efficiency while possibly decreasing the restrictions of human rights.


COVID-19 sanctions; constitutions; state of emergency; access to information; Police; Gendarmerie.

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