A series of controversial changes brought by the governing coalition to the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Codes of Romania are unconstitutional, the Constitutional Court (CCR) ruled on Monday, according to court sources. The long-expected ruling comes after 7 delays and marks the second time the court says changing criminal law is not constitutional.

Valer Dorneanu, presedintele CCRFoto: Agerpres
  • UPDATE Shortly after the Court decision, President Klaus Iohannis urged the governing coalition to stop attempting to change the criminal laws and try to reverse the "toxic changes already made to the laws of justice, which proved to be attacks to the security of citizens".

The Court thus admitted claims by the President and opposition parties that a series of changes to the Criminal codes, made in the Parliament by the governing coalition of Social Democrats (PSD) and Liberal Democrats (ALDE), are against the letter of the Constitution.

According to sources, the reasoning for the CCR ruling is that the Parliament did not fulfill its obligation to link all texts in the codes with previous CCR rulings.

The decision comes against the backdrop of public outrage sparked by the murder of teenage girls in Caracal, South Romania, due to inefficient action by authorities. An association of prosecutors has warned that the changes pushed by the governing coalition to the criminal codes would have serious effects in favor of the murder suspect.

Romanian deputies in April adopted the bills to amend the Criminal and Criminal Procedure Codes after a special parliamentary commission moved fast to adopt a large amount of changes which critics said would seriously undermine the judiciary and the fight against corruption, while helping criminals.

Among the most controversial changes:

  • diminishing expiration terms for sentences, including for sentences related to acts of corruption
  • dropping an article of the law on dereliction of duty
  • limiting the period where denouncements can be made to a year
  • banning of public communication or statements or providing other information by public authorities on facts and people who are subject to criminal inquiry or court procedures
  • dropping an article of the law that increased sentences in cases of abuse in office where a public servant has obtained advantages for himself or others.