“The Romanian Judges’ Forum Association, professional judges’ association, and the Movement for Defending the Status of Prosecutors, professional association of prosecutors, firmly request the minister of Justice, Tudorel Toader, to immediately give up the revoking procedure of the Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar. Such a procedure, that basically bypasses the guarantor of the independence of justice, namely the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM), the role of which is simply decorative and disobeys the right to defence of a prosecutor subjected to being revoked, was deeply criticized by the Venice Commission, the GRECO and the European Commission and jeopardizes Romania’s path in the European Union and in the European Council and the very democratic existence of the Romanian state, not to mention the negative and discouraging signal sent to an important part of the Magistrates Body,” according to a press release of the Judges’ Forum.
The Judges’ Forum shows that, in the context of altering and amending the package regarding the functioning of the judicial system in Romania, the Venice Commission underlined, throughout the Opinion no. 924/2018, “the necessity of ensuring the autonomy of prosecutors’ offices from the perspective of the way of appointing and revoking from office of the head prosecutors, so that they can ensure the protection of magistrates from political meddling.”
“It is found on the one hand, an increase of the involvement of the political factor in the activity of the Public Prosecution Service, and on the other hand, the necessity of <>. We specify that this vision on raising the independence of the Public Prosecution Service and, at the same time, on excluding meddling of the political factor in the prosecution offices’ activity, is noticed in the opinions of the Venice Commission, especially reported to Romania’s situation,” the Judges’ Forum says.
In its opinion, carrying out a revoking procedure, with disregard to CSM’s role who’s opinion has a consultative role, and without offering a right of defence to the prosecutor proposed to be revoked does not take into account the European Commission’s reports, within the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), nor the Copenhagen criteria, “high ranking prosecutors basically being placed under the exhaustive and unlimited control of the minister of Justice, the role of CSM being disregarded in managing the career of these magistrates.”
“As long as a chief prosecutor can be revoked at the discretionary appreciation of a political person, be they the minister of Justice, there can be no question of any independence, an excessive political influence being created. As such, looked at it in this context, revoking high ranking prosecutors ignores the European standards and numerous international principles. We are punctually referring to the principles of the United Nations regarding the role of the prosecutor, adopted in Havana in 1990, the recommendation of the Council of Europe (2000) in regards to the role of the prosecutor in the criminal justice system, the Standards of professional responsibility and the statement about the the obligations and rights of prosecutors, adopted by the International Association of Prosecutors (The Rome Statute),” the quoted source shows.
Concerning the magistrates’ freedom of expression, the Judges’ Forum says that, in the opinion of the Venice Commission on projects amending Justice laws, apart from the proposal to abandon art. 9, paragraph (3) from Law no. 303/2004 (that states to compel judges and prosecutors that, in “exercising their attributions, they should abstain from manifesting defamation, in any way, against the other powers of the state – legislative and executive”), the Venice Commission shows that magistrates “are entitled to express their opinions on the way the judicial system operates, even if those opinions could have political implications, given that the functioning of the judicial system is a topic of public interest.”
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