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In Romania, the ruling coalition has convened large demonstrations decrying supposed over-reach or misconduct by the DNA - the national anti-corruption directorate. I've noticed claims such as:

  • Leaking evidence to discredit defendants in the media before the trial.
  • Building invalid cases based on tip-offs by political opponents.
  • Supposedly excessive bringing of charges in cases without merit
  • Politically slanted use of the DNA by the president (/ others?)

On the other hand, I know that the DNA has been praised at European forums as being very effective, and Romania is unfortunately infamous (AFAIK) for corruption among public officials.

So, are these claims/allegations against the DNA and its conduct valid? To what extent? Is there ulterior motivation for these protests?

  • I have added references to support some claims. Feel free to revert if they are not appropriate. – Alexei Jun 10 '18 at 9:28
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tl;dr

Most of these claims are invalid and I think these protests are part of a campaign of the ruling coalition to show that they still have popular support in an effort to legitimize their latest political acts to increase influence over the judiciary.

Long answer

In order to answer your first question, I will rely on the Ministry of Justice request to dismiss DNA head Laura Codruța Koveși and its analysis within The Superior Council of Magistracy:

During the public meeting, Kovesi said that the allegations in the evaluation report (..) are unreal and lack any kind of evidence. She added that under her mandate, the DNA had the best results in its history.

The request was rejected by SCM and by the Romanian President.

The motives behind the protests are debatable, but recent events might help us finding them:

The ruling (..) limits the president's powers and gives the justice minister, a political appointee, more control over prosecutors in one of the European Union's most corrupt states.

Several analysts emphasized the political interference within the Constitutional Court [citation needed] as these judges are appointed by political actors.

Liviu Dragnea has appeared before Romanian prosecutors amid claims he illicitly obtained EU funds. His party's attempts this year to decriminalize graft offenses led to Romania's biggest protests since the communist era.

  • legitimization - shortly after getting the power, the coalition faced protests following their political decision. So, they had to show that their decision has significant popular support. This Deutsche Welle article summarizes very well the whole context of these protests:

The rally was seen as a response by the ruling coalition to a series of large anti-government street protests held against Social Democrat attempts to decriminalize several corruption offenses via emergency decree last year. After the popular outcry, the Social Democrats were forced to withdraw the decree.

The same article emphasizes the ruling party efforts to justify the control over the judiciary:

The ruling Social Democratic Party believes the prosecutors have too much power and allege that they have tapped phones illegally and have unjustly targeted officials.

The aforementioned idea of the justice problems of the leader are also mentioned:

Dragnea himself was convicted in a vote-rigging case, barring him from the post of prime minister. He is now on trial in a separate case for allegedly instigating abuses of office by other public servants. He is also under investigation on suspicion of pocketing EU funds. He denies wrongdoing in all three cases.

  • +1 mostly for mentioning the previous demos and the government's attempted move to decriminalize some corruption offenses. However - can you expand a bit on what happened to that move? Did it go through? And if not, what blocked it? – einpoklum Jun 10 '18 at 10:09
  • @einpoklum - the protests continued, but people grew tired and the magnitude is greatly reduced. Some argued that maintaining large protests over long periods of time is not sustainable and a few large protests (which require some logistics, online campaigns etc.) would have been a better idea. Anyway, the same square used yesterday (Saturday) by government-backed protests will be used by anti-government protests today (Sunday). – Alexei Jun 10 '18 at 10:58
  • But the the decriminalization go through? – einpoklum Jun 10 '18 at 11:14
  • @einpoklum - cannot find a source, but I remember local media reporting that a Senate commission approved that a final court decision could be attacked if the judge starting the trial is not the same as the one taking the decision (it happened for multiple long trials where the judges reached retiring age; one such trial involves Dragnea). So, I guess the answer is yes, but in subtler ways. Now, the Senate must approve this and of course, the President who can reject a law only once. – Alexei Jun 10 '18 at 11:46

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