Protests erupt across Romania against changes to judicial law

Romanians standing in silent protest, black scarves and tapes covering their eyes and mouths, outside the government headquarters in Bucharest on Sunday. About a hundred people gathered despite the rain for the silent flash mob named "Romania Silence
PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Romanians standing in silent protest, black scarves and tapes covering their eyes and mouths, outside the government headquarters in Bucharest on Sunday. About a hundred people gathered despite the rain for the silent flash mob named "Romania Silenced" to protest against changes to the judiciary pushed in Parliament by the leftist ruling party.

Despite the freezing weather, thousands in other cities across the country also demonstrated against attempts by the Social Democrats to overhaul the judiciary. In Bucharest, an estimated 4,000 marched from the government headquarters to Parliament, where lawmakers will begin debating changes today to the criminal code.

Earlier this month, the Social Democrats used their solid majority to approve a judicial overhaul in the Lower House that threatens to put the justice system under political control. The Senate is expected to approve the Bills next week. The European Commission, the US State Department, the country's centrist president and thousands of magistrates have criticised the changes to the judicial legislation, saying they could derail the rule of law. The government denies this is the case. Outside Parliament on Sunday, the marchers chanted "Thieves' nest" and "We want justice, not corruption" under sleet and rain.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 19, 2017, with the headline 'Protests erupt across Romania against changes to judicial law'. Print Edition | Subscribe