Romania: Proposed changes to justice system cause alarm

AP News
Posted: Aug 23, 2017 4:30 PM
Romania: Proposed changes to justice system cause alarm

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania's justice minister presented a package of proposed changes to the judicial system on Wednesday that includes limiting the role of the president in naming key officials.

Romania's president reacted angrily to the proposals, saying they would set the country's anti-corruption efforts back by a decade.

Justice Minister Tudorel Toader recommended having the president no longer appoint the general prosecutor and the chief anti-corruption prosecutor, a main function of Romania's presidency. Instead, the Supreme Council of Magistrates, a professional body, would appoint the two prosecutors.

The minister also suggested a process to punish prosecutors and judges for erroneous rulings and prosecutions.

In addition, magistrates under investigation for wrongdoing would have their actions reviewed by the general prosecutor's office rather than an anti-corruption agency.

President Klaus Iohannis immediately slammed the proposals, saying they amounted to "an attack on the rule of law, on the independence and proper functioning of the justice system."

If adopted, the recommendations would "result in scaring magistrates and reducing their independence," Iohannis said.

Later Wednesday, demonstrators gathered outside the government offices to protest the proposals and chanted: "Justice, not corruption." Some waved Romanian flags,

Iohannis and his predecessor, both political rivals of the governing left-leaning party, have championed anti-corruption efforts.

Anti-corruption group Platform Romania 100 said the changes would set Romania back to before the government began to reform the justice system in order to join the European Union.

The Supreme Council of Magistrates needs to sign off on the proposals.