Wednesday, February 1st

The Romanian Government has passed an emergency decree to amend the Penal Code

The Romanian Penal Code has been modified by means of Government emergency decree that has already been published in the Official Monitor. Most of the provisions are due to come into effect in ten days’ time, but the one referring to the six month term to file a denunciation will take effect immediately. The Justice Minister, Florin Iordache, has announced, on Monday evening, after the Cabinet meeting, that the decree maintains the 200,000 lei threshold under which the abuse of office will be decriminalized or it will not receive a criminal punishment. The Government of Sorin Grindeanu has not given up the amnesty plan either and this project will be sent to Parliament in an emergency procedure, according to the Justice Minister.

Thousands of people are protesting against the Government Emergency decrees that decriminalizes some corruption offences

Around 4,000 people have been protesting in the Victory Square of the Romanian capital, Bucharest, in front of the Government headquarters, according to estimates by the security forces. The protestors are angry that during last night’s Government session, the ministers have adopted an emergency decree to amend the Penal and Criminal Procedure Codes and the bill referring to amnesty. Protestors of all ages held placards with messages like: „Green light for theft” and „Romania, wake up!” The protest has been peaceful so far, no unpleasant events have been recorded and the drivers that pass through the area are tooting their horns, to show solidarity with the demonstrations. The number of people gathered here is set to increase, as protestors keep coming to the Victory Square. People have also come to the streets in Cluj, Iashi, Brasov, Timisoara, Sibiu, Targu-Mures, Resita, Bistrita-Nasaud, Constanta, Galati and in other towns and cities.

European officials have said that the fight against corruption in Romania needs to be advanced, not undone

The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker and First Vice-President Frans Timmermans have expressed their concern on the recent developments in Romania. The European officials say that the fight against corruption needs to be advanced, not undermined. In a joint statement released on Wednesday, the two officials have said : “ the irreversibility of the progress achieved in the fight against corruption is essential for the Commission to assess whether at some point monitoring under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) could be phased out. The Commission’s latest report, published last week, has acknowledged the track record achieved so far by prosecutors and judges in Romania in addressing high-level corruption. At the same time, it made clear that any steps which undermine this progress, or have the effect of weakening or shrinking the scope of corruption as an offence, would have an impact on any future assessments.” The American Chamber of Commerce in Romania has also expressed its deep disappointment towards the way that the emergency ordinance on decriminalizing some offences related to abuse of power has been substantiated and adopted and on the effects of this decree and the plan to change the Penal Codes. The decrees have undermined the rule of law, breached the fundamental principles of transparency, stability and predictability and alienate Romania from the European values and standards, a statement from the Chamber of Commerce has said.

Mădălina Brotăcel – Agenţia de presă RADOR