Romania president calls for referendum on prisoner pardons
Romania president calls for referendum on prisoner pardons

[JURIST] Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said Monday that a referendum on the government’s plan to pardon thousands of prisoners was needed after thousands protested [JURIST report] the proposal. Many claim the proposed prisoner release is fueled by government officials’ agenda to aid corrupt politicians. The proposed referendum [AP report] would ask Romanians whether they agree with the possible government measure. The Socialist Democratic Party, now the leading party in parliament after the December election, has not addressed the pardons in any public statements. Premier Sorin Grindeanu has proposed an emergency ordinance that would bypass the president and parliament, citing problems with overcrowding in prisons. The European Commission will soon release a report on Romania’s progress in improving judiciary independence and abolishing corruption, the subject behind the Romanian protests.

Prison concerns have been widespread in recent months. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Hawaii filed a complaint [JURIST report] with the US Department of Justice in January, stating that overcrowding in the state correctional facilities is resulting in violations of the prisoners’ Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. In December Bolivia President Evo Morales pardoned 1,800 prisoners [JURIST report] in a continued attempt to cut down on prison overcrowding. A group of international human rights experts, including UN Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E. Méndez, in July called on [JURIST report] states worldwide to adopt the Revised Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. In March the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment released a report [JURIST report] condemning Greece for police abuse, poor prison conditions and mistreatment of detained juveniles.