The Political Statements made by the Romanian President Completely Ignore the Realities regarding the Rule of Law in Romania, as the Partners in the European Union Cannot be Misled by Assertions without Real Support

The Romanian Judges’ Forum Association and the Association Initiative for Justice have taken note with surprise of the press statements made by the President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, yesterday in Brussels, in the sense that: “for Romania the Rule of Law is not a problem and we do not oppose to a connection, because fortunately, in Romania the Rule of Law issue has been solved in a positive way by last year’s referendum and by the political changes that took place, so, well, we are fine in this regard”.

These allegations are complemented by the way in which the President of Romania disregarded the reports of the European Commission on the observance of the negative opinions of the Superior Council of Magistracy (SCM) – Section for Prosecutors on the appointment of high-ranking prosecutors to senior positions until a new legislative framework is established in line with the recommendation to implement a robust and independent system for appointing high-ranking prosecutors, based on clear and transparent criteria, with the support of the Venice Commission, appointing the very candidates with negative opinion. In support of his decision, not taking into account the opinion of the Section for Prosecutors of the SCM, the President of Romania said the following: “I consider the three candidates very good. The SCM’s opinion seemed to me, partially, quite superficial”.

The undersigned remind the public opinion that Romania has been under the European Commission’s monitoring for visible deficiencies in the Rule of Law for more than 13 years, which also explains the obvious failure to meet the necessary conditions for accessing the Schengen area, recognized as an area of freedom, security and justice.

The latest CVM Reports have expressly requested Romania to immediately suspend the application of ”laws of judiciary” and subsequent emergency ordinances, as well as to review these laws, taking full account of the recommendations made in the CVM, as well as the recommendations of the Venice Commission and GRECO.

However, no real progress has been made in legislating for the abolition of Special Section for the investigation of offences in the judiciary, reviewing the system for appointing and dismissing chief prosecutors and limiting the role of the Minister of Justice in these proceedings, while increasing the powers of the Superior Council of the Magistracy, the abrogation of the restrictions on freedom of expression, materialized in the obligation for the magistrates to refrain from “defamatory manifestation or expression in relation to other state powers”, revision of the rules on material liability of magistrates, while ignoring the minimum guarantees for independence of the judiciary, or reorganization of the Judicial Inspection, by reconsidering the role and responsibilities of the Chief Inspector, including the repeal of the GEO no. 77/2018.

In the eight months of operation under a new leadership, the Ministry of Justice has not presented any serious project to try to review the ”laws of judiciary” in respect of the harmful aspects identified by all relevant international entities (European Commission, Venice Commission, GRECO, Consultative Council of European Judges, Consultative Council of European Prosecutors etc.).

No minimum working group has been set up to include representatives of the judiciary, and the proposal to abolish the Special Section for the investigation of offences in the judiciary has been accompanied by unconstitutional filters of impunity for judges and prosecutors, which could block any investigation for the lack of agreement of the Section for Judges, requested by its former president, Lia Savonea, in the draft candidacy for the SCM, in whose term of office SCM has drawn severe criticism from the European Commission.

The Romanian Parliament also have had no active role in remedying the aspects that have turned Romania into a country that disregards the minimum requirements of the Rule of Law, and, moreover, any attempts in this regard have been quickly rejected.

The undersigned inform the President of Romania that the recommendations and requirements contained in the reports drawn up by the European Commission, pursuant to Article 2 of Decision 2006/928, are aimed at achieving the benchmarks. The achievement of these benchmarks is a result obligation on Romania, and the CVM reports are built around these goals that Romania must achieve, making a common body with the decision, involving concrete and precise obligations and commitments. Therefore, the recommendations made by the Venice Commission in order to achieve the reference objectives, based on the principle of loyal cooperation, provided by art. 4 par.3 of the Treaty on European Union, must be taken into account by the Romanian authorities, precisely in order to achieve the reference objectives set out in the Annex to Decision 2006/928/EC and to refrain from any measure likely to infringe or endanger their realization.

The Associations also underline that the President of Romania cannot ignore the fact that, in his recent case law, the Constitutional Court of Romania considered that “the effects of an advisory referendum are political and not legal (…) the launching of the consultative referendum, questions addressed to the people by the President, the use of responses received by public authorities are subsumed to a political effect which, in turn, has consequences in terms of political accountability for the institutional actors involved, and not in terms of their legal liability” (Decision 28/2020).

Therefore, the repeated invocation of a panacea for the flagrant deficiencies of the Rule of Law in Romania, caused by the referendum held in 2019, is therefore absolutely irrelevant from a legal point of view, being necessary to adopt normative acts to restore the minimal coordinates of the rule of law state.

Consequently, the political statements of the President of Romania completely ignore the realities regarding the Rule of Law in Romania. The partners in the European Union cannot be misled by statements without concrete support. There is also an unwelcome confusion among the public that has supported the Rule of Law, as the President of Romania has publicly announced his desire to defend it.

 

Romanian Judges’ Forum Association

judge Dragoş Călin, co-president

judge Lucia Zaharia, co-presiedent

 

Association Initiative for Justice

prosecutor Sorin Marian Lia, co-president

prosecutor Bogdan-Ciprian Pîrlog, co-president

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