Romania’s government abandons plans to promote controversial decree as regular bill

Romania’s government abandons plans to promote controversial decree as regular bill
By Iulian Ernst in Bucharest February 7, 2017

Romania’s government has given up plans to endorse provisions of controversial ordinance 13 in a regular bill submitted to lawmakers for enactment, the ministry of justice said on February 6, after formal procedures in this regard were reported by the Romanian magistrates’ body CSM.

The original decree would have partly decriminalised abuse of office, by amending the Criminal Code to make abuse of office a criminal offence only if the damage caused exceeds RON200,000 (€44,500). Under huge public pressure, the government revoked the decree on February 5. 

The ministry of justice said in a February 6 statement that “is not interested in drafting and promoting a bill on amending the criminal code and the criminal procedures code”, which were the subject of ordinance 13. The ministry also said that it would summarise and evaluate the feedback from the Constitutional Court. 

In a previous statement, amended quickly, the ministry had said that it would draft a bill based on conclusions resulting from the court’s feedback. In fact, Justice Minister Florin Iordache had confirmed the planned bill himself, explaining that it would be posted on the government’s website and subject to public debates for 30 days. These plans were later abandoned, judging from the latest official statement from the ministry.

The government was forced to revoke the decree following mass demonstrations across the country, bringing together half a million people on February 5. The decree prompted criticism, not only from civic organisations and protesters on the street, but also from the CSM, the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), the prosecution office, the European Commission and foreign embassies in Bucharest.