Romania’s minority Liberal government vows to overturn disputed parole law

ludovic orban 19 noiembrie
Sursa: Guvernul României

Romania’s minority Liberal government says it will go to Parliament and “assume responsibility” for a contentious parole law that has seen thousands of prisoners released early from jail with hundreds re-offending and back in prison after committing violent crimes.

Prime Minister Ludovic Orban, who took office last month, however warned Monday that repealing the 2017 law “will generate effects only in the future, as those currently in prison serving time for deeds committed before the law was repealed will be allowed to benefit from the law.”

The government will ask Parliament this week to back overturning the law. If it doesn’t, the government could face a no-confidence vote.

Under the law, prisoners have been released for reasons including their cells are too hot or too cold, or are too small or unhygienic. Of the 21,000 released, about 7,000 were people convicted of murder, rape, robbery and pedophilia.

Since, then about 500 have re-offended and are back behind bars. 

Deputy Prime Minister Raluca Turcan said Monday “This correction of justice laws is urgently required to not block the judicial system,” she said.

She also said European Union officials had called for it in their latest report on Romania’s justice system and anti-corruption fight. Romania remains under special monitoring.

“The reason is there is a higher rate of prisoners that have been freed, that have reoffended,” she wrote, “We know that the law is more lenient, but it is important in the future to prioritize public safety.”

“Every second this law continues to exist, it threatens the daily lives of Romanians,” she said.

Turcan said Justice Minister Catalin Predoiu would go to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg to “present the gravity of the situation” in Romania.

She said the government would spend money on electronic bracelets, filling jobs at the National Penitentiaries’ Authority, and building a new prison. “We don’t have time to lose!” he said.

The Social Democrat-led government which approved the parole law was dismissed in a no-confidence vote last month, and a Liberal minority government took office on Nov. 10.

The Liberals promised to overturn some of the Social Democrat’s most contentious measures in the legal system. But last week there were concerns raised that the government isn’t acting fast enough.

Orban said last week he wanted to „erase any doubts” about the government’s intention to the parole law, promising to “find the best solution to abolish the measures from the parole law which has endangered the lives of Romanian citizens,” he said.

The centrist Save Romania Union criticized the justice ministry  for not moving immediately to overturn the parole law.

Deputy chairman of the Save Romanian Union Stelian Ion said the Liberal government had failed “to use all the instruments it has available to fix the problems created by the Social Democrats in the area of justice.”

“We know that there is no stable majority in the current parliament which means there can’t be real reforms,” Ion said.

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