Constitutional Court of Romania, 25 February 1993, Decision No. 6
Constitution of Romania
Article 11: International Treaties
(1) The Romanian State pledges to fulfil as such and in good faith its obligations as deriving from the treaties it is a party to.
(2) Treaties ratified by Parliament, according to the law, are part of national law.
Article 20: Precedence of Human Rights
(1) Constitutional provisions concerning the citizens’ rights and liberties shall be interpreted and enforced in conformity with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with the covenants and other treaties Romania is a party to.
(2) Where inconsistencies exist between the covenants and treaties on fundamental human rights Romania is a party to and internal laws, the international regulations shall take precedence.
General principle of equality
Use of international law as a guide for interpreting domestic law
Tax rate raised for certain persons holding several positions simultaneously/ Institution of proceedings before the Constitutional Court/ Use of international law as a guide for interpreting domestic law
Proceedings had been instituted before the Constitutional Court of Romania concerning a law which made provision for a 30% increase in the statutory tax rate for income accruing from several positions held concurrently. That law concerned in particular politicians who held an electoral mandate and were earning a salary from the State and from their employer at the same time.
The Constitutional Court examined the relevant provisions of the Constitution in order to determine whether the legislation was discriminatory and found that those provisions should be complemented with those of the international instruments which Romania had ratified:
“The non-discrimination criteria are set forth in Article 4(2) of the Constitution: race, nationality, ethnic origin, language, religion, sex, opinions, political affiliation, property, social origin. It must be stressed in this context, however, that the provisions of the Constitution must be complemented with international human rights instruments, since this is the only way that the principle of equal rights can have an authentic legal dimension. This results explicitly from the first paragraph of Article 20 of the Constitution, which provides that “Constitutional provisions concerning citizens’ rights and liberties shall be interpreted and enforced in conformity with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with the covenants and other treaties to which Romania is a party.” Consequently, the provisions of Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which entered into effect on 23 March 1976, shall be applicable in this instance. That Article stipulates that: “All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”
Article 2(2) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which entered into force on 3 January 1976, contains similar provisions.”
After underlining in general terms that the provisions of international instruments complemented the reasons for discrimination that were prohibited by the Constitution, the Constitutional Court of Romania based its remedy in this particular case on the provisions of the Constitution alone. The Court held that the legislation comprised discrimination between categories of civil servants and that this was incompatible with Article 16(1)2 of the Constitution concerning equality before the law and Article 53(2)3 concerning equality in taxation.