Bucharest, Romania– Tens of thousands of Romanians protested on Saturday against legislation passed by Parliament that critics say will make it harder to prosecute crime and high-level corruption.
The Social Democrats (PSD) and their junior coalition partner ALDE used their majority to push a judicial overhaul through parliament in December, despite criticism from the European Commission, the US Department of State, thousands of magistrates and centrist President Klaus Iohannis.
An estimated 50,000 people marched towards parliament from the iconic University Square blowing whistles, waving flags and chanting “Thieves!”, while thousands more demonstrated in cities across Romania.
An earlier PSD attempt to decriminalise several corruption offences at the start of 2017 triggered Romania’s largest street protests since the 1989 fall of Communism.
Transparency International ranks Romania among the EU’s most corrupt states, although Brussels, which has Romania’s justice system under special monitoring, has praised magistrates for their efforts to curb corruption.
Romania’s anti-graft prosecutors have sent 72 members of parliament to trial since 2006.