The Romanian Judges’ Forum Association took note with stupefaction of the oft he latest public developments in Romania related to the judiciary.
On the one hand, the statements and intentions of the Minister of Justice, disclosed on the occasion of the hearings in the joint parliamentary committees of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate for the investiture of the new Government to tarry any changes brought to the „justice laws“, under the cover of an impending election campaign, are unacceptable and prove that, both at the Government and Parliament level, there is no real intention to enforce the recommendations of all relevant international entities (Venice Commission, GRECO, Consultative Council of European Judges, Consultative Council of European Prosecutors, European Commission etc.) which show that in Romania the rule of law functions below the minimum parameters accepted in a consolidated democracy.
Moreover, referring to the ‘‘provisions of justice laws which are a matter of urgency‘‘ in order to amend, the Minister dismissed and newly-appointed has nonchalantly shown that “SCM (Superior Council of Magistracy) did not report tot he Ministry of Justice, but there is a concern for the amendment of some provisions in the justice laws which are a matter of urgency in order to remove any blockage. I do not know what these are at this time, but I am open to consultations.“
These statements fully characterize the lack of any political will to carry out the reforms absolutely necessary for the functioning of the judiciary, in accordance with the European standards. In exchange, almost every day we witness virulent public attacks against the Romanian magistrates, stigmatizing them for their income or turning them into a subject of debate for the less informed voters, and the approaches of the Ministry of Justice have no legal effect, but with potential of electoral image or even damage to the independece of the judiciary (see the famous „Memorandum“ referring to SIIJ – Section for the Investigation of Offences in the Judiciary, followed by the project proposal for the dissolution of the Section, simultaneously with the establishment of the so-called guarantees to prevent the abuses against judges and prosecutors, regarded by all the independent observers as superimmunities, granted to a professional category, breaching the principle of equality among citizens). Besides, the assertions of the Minister of Justice as meaning that the adverse opinions issued by the Section for Prosecutors within the Superior Council of Magistracy would represent a „de facto trend to assume a prerogative which is fully related to the Ministry of Justice, respectively the prerogative of proposal for the office concerned“ prove a flagrant ignorance of the recommendations in the last CVM reports, which expressly underlined that the SCM’s weight in the procedure for appointing the highest-ranked prosecutors (and not of the executive) must be a determined one, the role of the Section for Prosecutors could not be a decorative or strictly formal one.
On the other hand, to the Government’s inactivity the one of the Romanian Parliament is added, which has made no progress in the necessary lawmaking for the dissolution of the Section for the Investigation of Offences in the Judiciary, the review of the system of appointment and removal from the office of the senior prosecutors and the limitation of the role of the Minister of Justice in these procedures, simultaneously with the increase of the powers of the Superior Council of Magistracy, the repeal of limitations concerning the freedom of expression, materialized in the magistrates‘ obligation to abstain from the „denigrating manifestation or expression in relation to the other powers of the state“, the review of the rules on the judges and prosecutors‘ material liability, as long as these ignore the minimum guarantees for the independence of justice or the resorganisation of the Judicial Inspection, by reconsidering the role and duties of the senior inspector, including the repeal of the Emergency Ordinance no. 77/2018.
To this list of constitutional authorities also the President of Romania is added who disobeyed the reports of the European Commission issued within the CVM concerning the respect of the negative opinions of the Superior Council of Magistracy – Section for Prosecutors related to the appointment in leadership positions of the highest-ranked prosecutors until the establishment of a new legislative framework in compliance with the recommendation on implementation of a robust and independent system of appointing the highest-ranked prosecutors on the basis of some clear and transparent criteria, with the support of the Venice Commission.
The recommendations and requirements contained in the CVM reports, pursuant to Article 2 of Decision 2006/928, aim to achieve the benchmarks. The achievement of these benchmarks is an obligation of result on the part of Romania, and MCV reports are built around these objectives that Romania must achieve, making common body with the decision, assuming concrete and precise obligations and commitments. Therefore, the recommendations made by the Commission in order to achieve the benchmarks, based on the principle of loyal cooperation, as laid down in Article 4 par.3 of the Treaty on European Union, must be taken into account by the Romanian authorities, precisely for the purpose of achieving the reference objectives set out in the Annex to Decision 2006/928/EC and to abstain from any measure that might violate or endanger their achievement.
Within this framework, one cannot ignore the predictable failure toward the fulfilment of the conditionalities necessary for the accession to the Schengen area – recognized as an area of freedom, security and justice, within which there is a key focus on the ability to control the external borders – through actions or inactions that cancel the Romanian authorities‘ efforts to respect the European partners, constantly carried out in the last 20 years. Moreover, we refer to the new regime of conditionality for granting European funds which will be introduced in order to correct the generalized obvious shortcomings regarding the good governance of the Member States in relation to the respect of the rule of law, Romania being in danger of losing huge sums of money.
All these aspects will strike hard all the Romanian nationals, the liability belonging exclusively to the political factors.
The Romanian Judges’ Forum Association
judge Dragoș Călin, co-president
judge Lucia Zaharia, co-president
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