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Council of Europe Secretary General Jagland urges Bucharest to rethink reform of the judiciary

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Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland has last December 22 sent a letter to the President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, urging him to seek the expertise of the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission (European Commission for Democracy through Law) regarding the legislative reforms on the judiciary adopted this week by the Romanian Parliament.

The adopted legal texts concern the Superior Council of Magistracy, the status of judges and prosecutors and the judicial organization.

Secretary General Jagland said “an opinion of the Venice Commission would provide clarity on the compatibility of these texts with fundamental rule of law standards.” “It would be complementary to the urgent assessment of these texts which is being prepared by the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) in the light of anti-corruption standards.”

His message came one day after seven embassies asked Romania’s ruling coalition to avoid actions that would ruin Romania’s judiciary reforms. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE) reacted to the statement, claiming that the consolidation of the rule of law and the fight against corruption are among the priorities of the government.

Tens of thousands of people have protested in the main Romanian cities in the past few weeks as MPs have debated the changes to the justice laws. Prosecutors and judges staged silent protests in the past days on the backdrop of the debates in Parliament on these changes.

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