Romanian president blocks draft corruption law

President Klaus Iohannis insisted that the proposal would have to be submitted to public consultation, rather than entering into force immediately. [Romanian Presidency]

Romania’s president today (18 January) blocked a series of controversial legal changes that would have protected corrupt politicians from prosecution.

The move came as Social Democrat leader Liviu Dragnea, whose PSD party won last month’s parliamentary elections, prepares to go on trial for alleged abuse of power.

Observers say the proposed legal amendment may have enabled Dragnea to escape the charges.

“Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu has committed himself to not rush the project through… but submit it for public consultation, as is the law,” President Klaus Iohannis told ministers.

“I am sure that we all want to reinforce the rule of law, which means respecting the rules.”

Commission rejects Romania's bid to lift EU justice monitoring

Romania’s justice minister claimed yesterday (12 January) that Bucharest had filled the requirements for the European Commission to lift its monitoring over the country’s judicial system this year. But Brussels has refuted the suggestion. EURACTIV Romania reports.

The bill sought to decriminalise certain offences and redefine what constitutes an abuse of power, as well as also including a new pardon law to help ease pressure on Romania’s overcrowded prisons.

The justice minister had hoped to pass the proposals by emergency decree in today’s cabinet meeting, which would have seen them enter into effect immediately.

A previous attempt in 2013 to pass the legal amendments was dropped after protests from non-governmental organisations.

Romania’s anti-corruption agency has repeatedly cautioned against passing the proposals without public consultation.

Romanian ombudsman challenges ban on convicted politicians from government

Romania’s ombudsman asked the Constitutional Court on Thursday (5 January) to strike down a law that bars people convicted of a criminal offence from joining the government, a move that could help the leader of the ruling party to become prime minister.

The agency has spearheaded a major anti-corruption drive welcomed by Brussels as long overdue in the European Union’s second-poorest country.

Keeping close tabs on Bucharest’s justice reform, the European Commission is due to release its annual report into Romanian corruption at the end of January.

In its 2015 report, Brussels warned Romania against approving laws that could help to “whitewash individuals found guilty of corruption offences”.

Romania’s anti-corruption services are reminiscent of Securitate

SRI, Romania’s domestic intelligence service, is evolving into what many regard as the Securitate Version 2.0, a reference to Nicolae Ceaușescu’s feared security service, writes Nick Kochan.

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