Until recently, not much was known to the general public about the Romani justice system, partly because of its tradition of secrecy. But today, Romanian authorities are turning to Romani judges as mediators in conflicts and as aides in law enforcement, a development explored in this lecture. Following more than 600 years of difficult existence in Europe, the Roma’s homegrown justice system is deeply rooted in their traditions, and bears the trademarks of Roma culture. Elected Romani judges are typically educated elders who are respected in their community and have good relations with the non-Roma, and while they cannot issue judgments on public law, they do handle mediations in criminal cases and often are called on to intervene in family disputes. Authorities credit the Romani system—known as Romani Kris—with reducing offences among the Roma, and with facilitating close cooperation with the Romanian police. Non-Roma also seek help from the kris when they run into conflicts with Roma. These unique Roma courts represent a symbol of peace and stability in the family and community for Romani people all over world, and may function as a model of a just and egalitarian way of resolving differences and contributing to the creation of a truly functioning multicultural coexistence. (Cristinela Ionescu)
CRISTINELA IONESCU (born 1975) is a journalist, film producer, scriptwriter, and activist who studied sociology and social work at the University of Bucharest, Bucharest. As head of Thumende, a local NGO for young Roma in Petrosani, she’s produced films and television shows dealing with Roma issues and culture in order to foster better understanding and acceptance of the local Roma community. Ionescu also organizes professional training for, and writes journalistic reports about, Roma communities. Recent (co-)produced films include: We are People/ Amen sam Roma (2009); Rubina (2008); and The Judge/ O Krisinitori (2007). Ionescu lives and works in Plopi and Petrosani.