Thousands protest in Romania against judicial changes

BUCHAREST, Romania – Tens of thousands across Romania protested in freezing weather on Sunday against plans by the ruling leftist Social Democrat party to overhaul judicial legislation, which critics and political analysts said would threaten the rule of law.

An estimate of 4,000 protesters in Bucharest marched from government headquarters to parliament in a bid to stop lawmakers from changing the criminal code; thousands more also protested in the cities of Cluj, Lasi, Timisoara and others.

Lawmakers are expected to meet today in parliament where they will debate changes to reform some criminal laws through emergency decree.

Earlier this month, the Social Democrat government proposed to overhaul the judiciary but the move was greatly condemned by President Klaus Iohannis, the Supreme Court, the prosecutor general, the chief anti-corruption prosecutor, diplomats and civil rights groups.

According to political analysts, judiciary overhaul will not only place the judiciary system under political control but will also derail the rule of law in Romania.

Outside parliament, thousands of Romanians gathered and chanted “Thieves’ nest” and “We want justice, not corruption” as they disapproved the move by the ruling government.

According to the police, about 50,000 Romanians across the country took part in the protests, making it the biggest demonstration in a recent wave of protests.

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