Associations of judges and magistrates: Magistrates’ discontent cannot be satisfied with parlor promises

The magistrates’ discontent cannot be satisfied with parlor promises, a press release issued on Tuesday by the Association of the Romanian Judges Forum, the Movement for Defence of Prosecutors’ Status Association and the Initiative for Justice Association.

The reaction of the three associations stems following the statements made Monday by Justice Minister Tudorel Toader after the talks at Victoria Palace on OUG 7/2019. Minister Toader announced on Monday that a dialogue mechanism was agreed upon within the framework of the talks, so that each draft legislative act proposed by the Government should be submitted to CSM [the Superior Council of Magistrates, ed.n.] at least five days before being made public, so as to be analyzed, debated and endorsed, as well as the repeal of Article 54 of OUG 7, on the possibility of a judge becoming a chief prosecutor.

“The independence of the judiciary cannot be negotiated! Therefore, the dissatisfaction of the magistrates cannot be satisfied with parlor promises regarding the future and uncertain, for an indefinite period of time of a simple text from the emergency ordinance that could have as recipients exclusively ‘individuals’ from among the judges aspiring to a high-ranking position in the prosecutors’ office.The manner in which these ‘discussions’ were handled by the Superior Council of Magistrates proves once again that the request of the professional body is justified for the observance of the powers and roles of each CSM Section and the involvement of the plenary session in all decisions concerning the entire judiciary system, according to the Constitution, the immediate recovery by the CSM of the genuine character of a collegiate body and the cessation of the issuance of press releases by the CSM president or by groups of members aimed at facilitating the taking over by the media of the message as coming from the institution itself, ” the press release signed by the representatives of the three associations specifies.

According to the same source, neither the President of the High Court of Cassation and Justice nor Romania’s Prosecutor General attend the Monday meeting of the Government, instead being present the Chief Prosecutor of the Judiciary Crime Investigation Section.

“Helping ‘the negotiation’ of the maintenance of these legislative provisions were the representatives of some associations of judges and / or prosecutors, towards whom over 2,000 magistrates delineated themselves during 2018, considering the positions expressed during the legislative process were deemed inappropriate for the evolution of the magistracy. Moreover, some subsidiaries dissolved themselves, and many members resigned from these associations for the same reasons,” the release said.

The Association of the Romanian Judges Forum, the Movement for Defence of Prosecutors’ Status Association and the Initiative for Justice Association enumerate a number of issues that could prove damaging to the independence of the judiciary and for which no consensus was reached during Monday’s talks, according to the participants’ reports.

“The proposal to adopt a ‘memorandum’ to grant CSM a reasonable period for issuing opinions is not enough, as it would at most constitute an infra-legal act, of ‘good practice’ without real and effective safeguards in case of non-compliance. (…) The dissatisfaction of the professional body of magistrates is also aimed at the existence of Judiciary Crime Investigation Section, not just the regulation of its gravity outside the traditional judicial system’s scope (…) The rush to forbid delegation to senior positions in the prosecutors’ offices for a period longer than 45 days, which could lead to institutional blockages (…), is doubtful. (…) The need to postpone or modify some provisions regarding the admission contest at the National Institute of Magistracy (INM), the contest admission to the judiciary, the initial training of court auditors, the traineeship of judges and prosecutors, the capacity examination of the judges and prosecutors, the promotion examination to executive position and of appointment in leadership positions of judges and prosecutors, or the contest for promotion of the judge with the ICCJ [the High Court of Cassation and Justice, ed.n.] was apparently appropriated by the CSM leadership, who had a special mandate from the collegiate body to request the repeal of the ordinance, except for some provisions regarding the admission in the INM and promotion to ICCJ,” the magistrates maintain.

The three associations also warn of the effects that OUG 7/2019 might have externally.

“Finally, we draw attention to the fact that the incapacity of the executive power and of the legislative power to respond to the demands of the European Commission formulated in the CVM, ignoring some minimal aspects of the rule of law, can pave the way for the activation of Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union, with the immense risks to the Romanian state and the well-being of its citizens. The solution at the disposal of the Government and Parliament is the repeal of some provisions of the laws of Justice and subsequent emergency ordinances criticized by the European Commission, the Venice Commission and GRECO and respectively, of some provisions of these legislative acts, after a real consultation of the judiciary,” the press release further shows.

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