Thousands of Romanians protested across the country in January 2017 against a plan from the government to decriminalise abouse of power crimes and grant pardons to some convicts. Critics claimed the proposal was a bid by the prime minister to protect colleagues from his party who were facing legal proceedings.
The plan - including pardons for convicts sentenced to less than five years and reduced sentences for prisoners over 60 - would result in the release of at least 2500 convicts, ostensibly to ease prison overcrowding. The proposal was also criticized by Romania's president and civil rights groups.
These protests took place as the European Commission released its annual report on the country's Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM).
The government decree was passed on the 31 January 2017 and further and larger protests took place in Bucharest and other Romanian cities at the beginning of February 2017. News sources reported that the protests in the capital on the 1 February 2017 were the largest in Romania since the fall of communism. The European Commission expressed concern.
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said on the 2 February 2017 that he would challenge the decree in the Constitutional Court - the last legal resort to stop the decree.
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