Romania's Senate passes judicial reform
The Romanian Senate approved the first of three controversial judicial bills on Tuesday; the next two will be put to vote today, Wednesday. Citizens have been protesting against the reforms for weeks and in recent days judges and public prosecutors joined them on the streets. Romania's media describe how the pressure on the judiciary is mounting and see little hope of the reform being stopped.
Mounting pressure on judges and prosecutors
Radio Europa Liberă explains how the law passed on Tuesday will hamper the work of the judiciary:
“The changes to the legal regulations for judges and public prosecutors are making both groups of professionals unhappy. Because from now on they will be held personally responsible for any mistakes. They may even be liable to pay for any damage with their own personal assets, which would be completely disproportionate. (First the state pays for the damage via the ministry of finances, then the state takes the amount paid in damages from the judge or public prosecutor). The new measures - if they come into effect - will exert new pressure on the judiciary and could force them to adopt a lenient rather than tough approach, for instance in investigations in cases of corruption.”
Only the Social Democrats can stop their boss
The judicial reform is already a done deal, journalist Florin Negruțiu writes in Blog Republica:
“There is little chance of stopping the PSD and ALDE, particularly since together with the Hungarian alliance UDMR they have a comfortable majority in parliament. President Iohannis has limited means. He will send the bills back to parliament but the majority isn't obliged to change even a comma. This legal package could be brought before the Constitutional Court, but that court also dances to the PSD's tune. The Venice Commission could be appealed to, but the PSD and ALDE are under no obligation to listen to anyone. ... So where does the solution lie? Unfortunately it lies with the PSD itself. Only the members of the party can stop [their leader] Liviu Dragnea now.”