Romanian Judges’ Forum: The cancellation, due to the reduction of the budget of the National Institute of Magistracy, of a large number of in-service professional training activities of magistrates could prejudice the judicial activity on the long run

The Romanian Judges’ Forum hereby warns the public opinion on the consequences entailed by the Government Emergency Ordinance (OUG) no 63/2017 on the State budget rectification for 2017, through which the budget of the National Institute of Magistracy (NIM), as approved for 2017, was diminished by 757,000 RON for the entrance “expenses for goods and services”, which forced the Institute to halt any professional training activities previously planned as from 1st of October 2017.

More specifically, this lead to the cancellation of 25 seminars planned at central level, reaching almost all fields of law, including those related to case law unification, and also of the training courses aimed for magistrates recruited according to art. 33 of Law no. 303/2004 on the statute of judges and prosecutors, as a result of the magistracy admission contest – session February-March 2017 (selected from lawyers having at least 5 years’ prior professional experience). They were supposed to attend during this period to the second module of the professional training programme, which is mandatory for them according to art. 33 para. 13 of the above law.

In addition, a large part of the 40 mandatory training activities which were planned to be carried out at decentralised level with the financial support of the National Institute of Magistracy were cancelled as the courts of law and the prosecutors’ offices attached thereto were not able to take on their financing.

According to the law, the National Institute of Magistracy is in charge of the initial training of judges and prosecutors, the in-service professional training of judges and prosecutors, as well as of the training of trainers, and according to art. 35 para. 1 of Law no 303/2004: “The in-service training of judges and prosecutors is a guarantee of their independence and impartiality in the exercise of their profession”.

According to the Opinion no 4 (2003) of the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE) on the appropriate initial and in-service training for judges at European and national level, professional training represents a guarantee of the independence and the impartiality of magistrates in the exercise of their profession, being essential for the objective, impartial and competent performance of judicial functions and to protect judges from inappropriate influences. This text was literally rendered by art. 35 of Law no. 303/2004 on the statute of judges and prosecutors.

The same Opinion says that the State has a duty to provide the judiciary with the necessary means and to meet the costs incurred. Moreover, the professional training is made indispensable by changes in the law, thus being a matter of public interest. The trust citizens place in the judicial system is closely connected to the in-depth professional training of the body of magistrates, and is targeted at pre-encountering any judicial error.

The successive reports within the Verification and Cooperation Mechanism emphasize the importance of increasing the financial support for the initial and in-service training and of the raising the capacity of the National Institute of the Magistracy for that purpose. It was further concluded that several factors contribute to the consistency of the case law of the courts of law of Romania, including raising the awareness among judges and prosecutors on the need for consistency and their training for that purpose.

An independent justice is composed of judges and prosecutors very well prepared professionally and the National Institute of Magistracy has the task of organizing a top professional training aimed at increasing the efficiency in justice, all of which implies an appropriate financing from the State budget.

As a consequence, the Romanian Judges’ Forum concludes that the cancellation of a large number of continuous professional training activities for magistrates and forcing the National Institute of the Magistracy of not being able to organize the previously planned professional training activities as of 1st of October 2017 could prejudice their independence and impartiality on the long run.

In addition, these arbitrary measures occur in the context of a number of recent amendments proposed by the executive and legislative powers for increasing the quality of the judicial activity by imposing conditions of a 30-year minimum age and at least 5 years’ experience in a judicial profession for the magistracy entrance contest, all of which appear as demagogic in the context described herein.

Ironically of not, the courses aimed for the magistrates recruited as a result of the contest of session February-May 2017 for the lawyers having a 5-year experience have been postponed for the year 2018 out of lack of budgetary resources.

 

judge Dragoș Călin, Court of Appeal Bucharest, co-president

judge Ionuț Militaru, Court of Appeal Bucharest, co-president

Bucharest, 1st of November 2017

The Romanian Judges’ Forum Association, an independent, non-profit, non-governmental and apolitical association of Romanian judges, having legal personality under Romanian law, has as main goal to bring its contribution to the progress of society through actions aimed to create an independent, impartial and efficient justice, the assertion and the defence of the independence of justice in relation to the other powers of the state, as well as through the initiation, organization, support, coordination and implementation of projects concerning the improvement, the modernization and the reform of the administration of justice.

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