Thursday, February 26, 2009

Romania okays penal codes,wants EU scrutiny lifted

BUCHAREST, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Romania's centre-left government approved new judicial codes on Wednesday, hoping to align its criminal and civil proceedings to European standards and end anti-corruption monitoring by Brussels. Earlier this month, the European Commission said Romania had taken "backward steps" in fighting corruption over the last year, urging it to amend the judicial codes and do more to fight corruption ahead of full-year assessments in July.

The replacement for the criminal code, the current version of which dates back to the 1960s, a time of communist repression has been advocated by Brussels and pro-democracy groups in Romania, seen as the bloc's most corrupt state after Bulgaria. Bucharest's new government, which won power in a November election, has pledged to revive the fight against corruption after the previous centrist cabinet let reforms slide following Romania's EU accession in 2007. "This will practically modernise the Romanian judicial system.

It is in line with the EU stance to see these bills finalised and lift monitoring," Prime Minister Emil Boc said. Political observers say the criminal and civil codes are a test of Boc's coalition government's ability to agree on anti-corruption efforts, which may be stymied by divisions between ruling groupings. Boc said the amendments would reduce lengthy trials, reduce trial costs and protect civil rights. (Reporting by Radu Marinas; Editing by Elizabeth Piper)

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