Romania Reverses Anti-Corruption Efforts
In response to Romania’s adoption of an emergency decree decriminalizing official misconduct and most acts of corruption, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“This law represents a significant setback in Romania’s fight against corruption and undermines the government’s commitment to the rule of law and accountability of government officials,” said Robert Herman, vice-president for international programs. “We urge the Romanian government to repeal this decision and instead strengthen anti-corruption efforts, as its citizens are demanding.”
Late on January 31, the Romanian government adopted an emergency decree that decriminalizes official misconduct and allegations of graft involving less than $48,000. While the government justified the measure as a way to prevent prison overcrowding, critics say the ruling party is seeking to protect its members currently on trial for corruption offenses or already convicted, including the leader of the Socialist Party and Speaker of the Parliament Liviu Dragnea.
Since the government’s plan to adopt the decree became known two weeks ago, thousands of people gathered throughout the country in some of the largest protests since the fall of communism in 1989.
Romania is rated Free in Freedom in the World 2017, Partly Free in Freedom of the Press 2016, and receives a democracy score of 3.46, on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 as the worst possible score, in Nations in Transit 2016.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.