Romanian parliament passes controversial judicial reforms

Romania’s lower house has passed controversial legislation that will overhaul its justice system — legislation that has been widely criticized as threatening judicial independence and facilitating corruption.

From the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project:

The [Romanian] legislation changes the manner in which magistrates are overseen and chief prosecutors are appointed—under the bill, the president has the right to vet prosecutors.

It also changes the source responsible for compensating for judicial errors from state funds to the judge responsible in sentencing. Experts claim this could possibly affect judges’ biases and tendencies in court rulings.

The lower house approved the bill with 179 out of 269 votes.

The European Commission and thousands of magistrates expressed concern over the legislation, saying it would allow political influence within the judicial system. Thousands of Romanians repeatedly protested against the proposed bill for its alleged power to hinder the fight against corruption. Demonstrations on Sunday drew over 10,000 people to take the streets of Bucharest, Cluj and other major cities.

“Justice, not corruption!” protesters chanted, according to ABC News.

The legislation is still pending in the upper house.

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