Moves from the Romanian Government to decriminalise certain abuses of power have been met with the largest mass demonstrations since Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was overthrown and executed with his wife on Christmas Day 1989. Romania’s Ombudsman has asked the country’s constitutional court to make a ruling on the draft bill.
The decree would effectively make ‘abuses of power’ involving sums less than 200,000 lei (45,000 EUR) legal, benefiting dozens of officials embroiled in ongoing trials.
The Justice Minister, Florian Iordache, stands by the draft bills. He announced to the press: “Yes, this decree is the ministry’s call, and I assume responsibility for that. As long as I am minister and I have signed the two draft bills, I take total responsibility for them.”
The government has refused to rescind the decree, though dissent in cabinet ranks started emerging on Thursday with the resignation of a minister and calls from the vice-president of the ruling party for the measure to be withdrawn.
Overcrowding in prisons and conformity with EU regulations were cited as motivations behind the draft legislation.
Eight Western powers including Germany and the United States are “deeply concerned” the decree could undermine Romania’s role in the EU and NATO. Meanwhile the protests look set to continue.