Romanians Protest against Recent Criminal Code Changes

World | December 16, 2013, Monday // 12:26

Hundreds of Romanians have taken to the streets in capital city Bucharest on Sunday, protesting against the recent changes in the Criminal Code.

Romanian parliament has approved a bill that would grant lawmakers immunity from corruption charges Tuesday. The amendments stipulate that the Romanian president, MPs, ministers, mayors and other officials would no longer be subjects to investigation under conflict of interest and other corrupt practices charges.

Some 1,000 people protested Sunday outside the government building in Bucharest, calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Victor Ponta. Gendarmerie repeatedly used tear gas when the protesters tried to go through the police cordon, Romanian Gandul Daily informed.

The ‘protest-marathon’ lasted over five hours despite freezing temperatures, during which nearly 2,000 demonstrators called for the resignation of the government and dissolution of parliament, Romanian Evenimentul zilei reported.

The amendments to the Romanian Criminal Code were passed in record time and with little debate last week and have been sharply criticized by President Traian Basescu, opposition politicians, and foreign diplomats for undermining the rule of law.

President Basescu has said he would not endorse the bill and would send the proposed changes back to parliament to be amended. According to him, the bill was reason enough for the parliament to be dissolved.

In addition, Prime Minister Victor Ponta has stated that the parliament needed to discuss the bill with the justice ministry, prosecutors and magistrates before it could be approved, and that the European Commission should also be consulted.

According to judicial data, 28 Romanian lawmakers are on trial on corruption charges or serving criminal sentences.

The National Integrity Agency, an anti-graft watchdog, has ruled that 193 mayors, deputy mayors and councilors have had conflicts of interest and falsified statements since mid-2012.

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Tags: conflict of interest, corruption, Victor Ponta, protest, Traian Basescu, Criminal Code, Romania, Romanians, Bucharest
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