Romania's government wants to spare the corrupt

Romania's new government on Wednesday presented a draft bill for a series of emergency decrees that would restrict criminal investigations against corrupt politicians and see thousands of prisoners released. President Iohannis, however, intervened and the legislation was not passed. The public learned of the proposals and thousands of people took to the streets to demonstrate against the plan.

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Jurnalul National (RO) /

President should mind his own business

Iohannis should remember what his tasks as president are, the pro-government daily Jurnalul National comments:

“The crushing defeat of his liberal PNL in the December elections and the scandal over [secret service deputy director] Coldea and [the head of the anti-corruption authority] Kövesi are damaging Iohannis' popularity. ... Iohannis still has enough time to regain the lost trust, but he is going about it in the wrong way. ... It is not the president's job to turn his team into the opposition's general staff and orchestrate attacks against the government and parliament. ... On the contrary, in these times of change the president can make a name for himself as a distinct voice at the European level. But when he gets all chatty in domestic politics yet remains silent in foreign affairs he is certainly making a mistake.”

Adevărul (RO) /

Government sacrificing the rule of law

This is an attack on the rule of law and it must be opposed by the people, Horia Blidaru, political advisor in the European Parliament, writes on the blog portal Adevărul:

“The only thing the social-liberal majority formed by the PSD and Alde has bothered about since it came to power is abolishing the recent education and health reforms, distributing social handouts and destroying all the progress that had been made in the justice system over the last few years. The justice system is the main focus of a number of politicians who are willing to sacrifice the rule of law to avoid being held to account for their own corrupt deeds. … The only ones who can prevent the country from relapsing to the abysmal conditions of the 1990s, when thieves knew no bounds and weren't punished for their crimes, are the citizens. … They should defend the state institutions that have managed to bring the crooks to justice.”

Contributors (RO) /

Not a solution for overcrowded prisons

Such measures won't provide a long-term solution to Romania's hopelessly overcrowded prisons, sociologist Ioan Durnescu comments on blog portal Contributors:

“Without changing the mechanisms [for instance the length of prison sentences] that lead to overcrowded prisons we won't solve this problem either effectively or enduringly. The emergency decree pardoning certain criminal offences will probably be passed and lead to the release of 2,000 prisoners and suspended sentences for 20,000 to 30,000 prisoners. But if you do nothing more than release them they will turn up in the prison and probation officers' statistics once again within a year. Under these circumstances is it that hard to see why many commentators accuse the government of simply whitewashing its stooges and not really wanting to tackle the very serious social problem that overcrowded prisons pose?”