The government coalition’s MPs voted to amend the criminal code and abolish the special prosecutor’s office, which investigates serious crimes and corruption.
This legislation has faced heavy criticism both within the country and in the EU. This initiative sparked massive protests in Slovakia.
78 out of 150 members of parliament voted in favor of the plan, which would eliminate the special prosecutor’s office that deals with crimes such as bribery, organized crime, and extremism.
By using an accelerated parliamentary procedure, the ruling coalition pushed through the changes without expert and other party review, limiting parliamentary debate time. It also limited the time for parliamentary debate.
As a result of the amendments to the legislation, regional prosecutors’ offices that have not dealt with such crimes for 20 years will now handle these cases.
This also means a reduction in the penalties for corruption and some other crimes, including the possibility of suspended sentences, as well as a significant reduction in the statute of limitations.
Slovak President Zuzana Caputova warned that these changes jeopardize the rule of law and could cause “unpredictable” harm to society.
She stated that she was ready to veto the changes and file a constitutional complaint if the ruling three-party coalition overrode her veto. Opposition parties also plan to appeal.
If the amendments are adopted, the European Parliament will question Slovakia’s ability to fight corruption. The European Public Prosecutor’s Office said that Bratislava’s plans threaten the protection of the EU’s financial interests and its anti-corruption system.
A number of people associated with the party of Prime Minister Robert Fico face prosecution for corruption charges.
Protesters held rallies against Robert Fico’s government in over 30 cities in Slovakia in early February, with the largest gathering of 30,000 participants in the capital, Bratislava.
The protesters demanded the abandonment of controversial changes to the criminal code, while opposition politicians criticized the ruling coalition for disregarding the debate and their constitutional rights.
On January 25, the previous protest in Bratislava saw a record-breaking 27 thousand protesters.