Romanian magistrates across the country on Friday launched a series of protests against a recent emergency ordinance by which the government introduced a series of unannounced changes to the laws of justice. The protests, which are due to continue next week and include organised suspensions of activity, are warning that the independence of Romanian judiciary is threatened for political purposes.
Protests in Cluj, Bucuresti, Sibiu, Timisoara and other cities were announced or were already organised starting Friday, while prosecutors and judges in other counties including Constanta, Arges or Valcea announced a suspension of activity for several days, during which only essential cases would be dealt with.
Viorel Teliceanu, top prosecutor at the Prosecutor's Office at the Tribunal in Constanta, a major city in SE Romania, the first such office to announce a suspension of activities, said that the latest changes to the rules of the judiciary are the equivalent of an "amnesty piece by piece" and that a continuation of this trend "can't be possible".
The latest ordinance came at after more than two years of concerted efforts by the Social Democratic Party (PSD) -led government to subdue the judiciary politically and stifle the fight against corruption in the country, sparking outrage among the civil society and EU bodies.
Most recently, the head of the European Commission Office to Bucharest, Angela Cristea, said that Brussels had a series of intervention tools available to answer breaches to the state of law in Romania, tools which include the "nuclear option" which "we hope would not be necessary". The "nuclear option" is the possible activation of Article 7, which would lead to Romania to lose voting rights within the EU.