Twelve countries, through their embassies, have asked Romania to consider the potential negative impact of the amendments to the criminal and criminal procedure codes.
Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States signed a joint statement asking all involved parties to avoid changes that would weaken the rule of law or the country’s ability to fight crime or corruption.
“Romania has shown considerable progress in combatting corruption and building effective rule of law. We encourage Romanians to continue on this path,” the statement reads.
It also references the conclusions of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism at the end of 2017, which asked the country to focus on further consolidating the progress made, avoid taking steps backwards and safeguard the independence of judges and prosecutors.
“We are following closely the changes to the criminal codes and remain concerned that several are likely to impede international law enforcement cooperation and negatively impact the fight against violent crime, transnational organized crime, financial crimes, and drug and human trafficking,” the same statement reads.
Furthermore, it recommends the country to reconsider the feedback given by domestic legal experts such as the Superior Council of Magistracy, and to seek support from international legal experts such as the Group of States Against Corruption and the Venice Commission.
The ruling alliance PSD-ALDE proposed several intensely disputed changes to the criminal code, which stirred notable public discontent and international criticism. Street protests have been taking place in Bucharest and major cities in Romania ever since the ruling coalition tried to pass these changes by emergency ordinance, at the end of January 2017, while judicial institutions often have been issuing public statements of their disapproval with the initiative. The Parliament will hold an extraordinary session on July 2-19 to finalize the changes to the criminal code.
In mid-June, the Chamber of Deputies voted several changes to the criminal procedure code. The new provisions favor people targeted by criminal investigations as they limit the possibility to perform wiretaps and shorten the prosecution stage. If prosecutors can’t send someone to court within a year, the case is automatically closed.