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News 21 Dec 17

Romania MPs Pass Controversial Justice Bill Despite Warnings

Romania’s parliament on Thursday adopted a controversial justice bill, despite warnings from civil society, opposition and foreign diplomats that it threatens to subvert the rule of law.

Ana Maria Luca
BIRN
Bucharest
Romanian Parliament. Photo: Tim Adams/Flikr

Romania’s Social Democrat-dominated parliament on Thursday passed a controversial justice bill, despite warnings from many magistrates, civil society and diplomats that it will curb the independence of the court and could undermine the rule of law and the country’s standing in Europe.

The main change is that the president can only once reject the nominees for the posts of Attorney General and Chief Prosecutors of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate and the Directorate for the Investigation of Organized Crime and Terrorism.

The president is also obliged to publicly announce his or her reasons for rejection.

Parliament is also set to pass several controversial modifications to the criminal code, as magistrates and law students continue to protest silently across the country.

President Klaus Iohannis, who disapproves of the changes, on Wednesday warned that Romania risks EU sanctions if the justice bill and changes to the criminal codes pass through parliament. “There is a risk that we end up in Poland’s situation,” he told journalists. 

The European Commission has risked a head-on collision with Poland's right-wing government after it warned EU member states on Wednesday that Poland had undermined the independence of the judiciary - which could see Poland stripped of its voting rights in the EU.

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