Police charged for unjustified use of violence, as Romanian politicians blame protestors

Peaceful Assembly

As the CIVICUS Monitor previously reported, on 10th August 2018 a mass protest against corruption in Bucharest turned violent when riot police moved against protesters using force and tear gas. According to news outlet Romania Insider, over 650 people filed complaints against the police after the incidents.

Leading figures in the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD) defended the police’s actions saying that the presence of a number of violent protesters justified the forceful intervention. PSD officials also accused the organisers of the protest of trying to remove the elected government in a coup d'etat.

In mid-September 2018 the party called for an investigation into alleged external funding of the protest and called on authorities to investigate whether protesters planned violence before the rally. Later in the month, the head of Romania's riot police and three senior officials were charged by prosecutors over the unjustified use of violence against protesters.

The conclusion PSD politicians appear to have drawn from the events is that both freedom of expression and freedom of assembly need to be "better regulated" in Romania. Reports indicate that authorities plan to regulate and control social networks and amend the law on public assembly - so that in the future it will not suffice to simply notify the local authorities about a planned gathering.

Concerns are growing within the EU over Romanian politicians' attempts to undermine the rule of law and democracy. European Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans has warned the Romanian government that it might end up in court if it continues with reforms aimed at limiting the independence of judges and prosecutors and curtailing the nation’s fight against corruption.