Justice minister’s announcement sparks new protests in Romania

Over one thousand people gathered in Bucharest’s Victoriei Square and hundreds went to the streets in other big cities to protest after the justice minister asked for the dismissal of the chief anticorruption prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi.

One year after the biggest street protests in Romania’s recent history, Romanians go to the streets once again to express their disapproval with a political decision that may impact the fight against corruption in Romania.

The justice minister said in his 80-minute press briefing that he wanted the fight against corruption to continue in Romania but that DNA should act legally and that the institution didn’t identify with its leader.

However, Romania has seen its biggest progress in fighting corruption, recognized in the reports of international institutions such as the European Commission, after Kovesi took over as DNA chief prosecutor in 2014. Thus, the protesters see this attempt to remove her from DNA’s helm as a way to put a break on important corruption investigations involving top-level politicians.

Moreover, the justice minister’s announcement comes after one year during which the new ruling coalition in Romania, made of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), has been trying to change the criminal code and the justice laws, first by emergency ordinance and then through legislative proposals passed by the Parliament, which have been met with big street protests throughout the year.

The attempts to change the justice laws have also triggered international reactions and worries from Romania’s main international partners, the European Union and the US.

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