The Romanian Judges’ Forum Association (Asociația Forumul Judecătorilor din România) and the Initiative for Justice Association (Asociația Inițiativa pentru Justiție) request the Ministry of Justice to notify the Venice Commission on the draft amendments of the “justice laws” presented on 30 September 2020

The Romanian Judges’ Forum Association and the Initiative for Justice Association notice that the old habits continue to play a key role in the activity of the Ministry of Justice, irrespective of the change of attitude publicly claimed with obstination, avoiding any exposure in front of the relevant international bodies whose opinions are ignored in aspects which are not convenient for the initiator of the bills.

Thus, although, by the CVM Report of 15 November 2017, the European Commission requested to “put in place a robust and independent system of appointing top prosecutors, based on clear and transparent criteria, drawing on the support of the Venice Commission, recommending, inclusively, the revision of the provisions of Article 132 (1) of the Constitution of Romania and the amendment of Law no. 303/2004 so that the endorsement from the Superior Council of Magistracy becomes mandatory”, the procedures of appointing top prosecutors proposed by the new bills, announced on 30 September 2020, fail to comply with the constant recommendations included in the reports of the European Commission, the reports of the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) concerning Romania and the opinions of the Venice Commission and of the Consultative Council of the European Prosecutors (CCPE).

The political factor continues to maintain its key role in the selection/revocation of the top prosecutors, taking into account that the recommendations of all the relevant international entities were that the appointment on the highest functions in the prosecutor’s offices should be made by a transparent procedure based on objective criteria (“robust and independent system of appointing top prosecutors”), within which the Superior Council of Magistracy shall be assigned a much more important role. Moreover, by its CVM Report of 13 November 2018, the European Commission expressly requested to “respect negative opinions from the Superior Council on appointments or dismissals of prosecutors at managerial posts, until such time as a new legislative framework is in place.”

Strengthening the system of checks and balances within the appointment procedures of the top prosecutors in the Public Ministry may not rely on the good faith of politicians.

The Romanian media has recently disclosed that, on 4 August 2020, “the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice terminated a case on money laundering involving the company Rail Force of the businessman Costel Comana, as well as the current Minister of Justice, lawyer Cătălin Predoiu, according to an official answer from the prosecutor’s office to the request of G4media.ro”.[1]

Such facts may give rise to a public appearance of a conflict of interest in respect of the appointment of prosecutors at managerial posts, in the absence of impartiality safeguards and the real involvement of the judiciary in these procedures.

In this context, it is necessary to revise the system of appointment and dismissal of chief prosecutors, deputy chief prosecutors and to limit the role of the minister of justice in these procedures, at the same time increasing the duties of the Superior Council of Magistracy, and it is necessary to notify the Venice Commission in order to assess the draft amendments of the “justice laws” presented on 30 September 2020 by the Minister of Justice.

The Venice Commission, established in 1990, is a consultative body of the Council of Europe on constitutional matters. The Commission is internationally recognized as an independent reflection instance. The Venice Commission equally contributes to the dissemination and development of the common constitutional patrimony, playing a unique role in promptly providing constitutional solutions for the states in transition, according to the standards and best practices in this field.

According to Article 11 of the Constitution of Romania, the Romanian State undertakes to fulfill its obligations under the treaties to which it is a party duly and in good faith. The treaties ratified by the Parliament, according to the law, form part of the national law. Romanian adhered to the Council of Europe (CE) further to the decision of 4 October 1993, made by Resolution no. 37/1993 of the Committee of Ministers of EC. The accession to the CE, an organization founded on the principles of respect for the fundamental human rights and freedoms, for the values of democracy and of the rule of law, was a mandatory step in the promotion of Romania’s steps towards the accession to the European Union (EU) and to the North-Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The execution of the international obligations arising from a treaty in force for a certain state is incumbent upon all the state authorities, including the Minister of Justice.

 

 

The Romanian Judges’ Forum Association

judge Dragoș Călin, co-president

judge Lucia Zaharia, co-president

 

Initiative for Justice Association 

prosecutor Sorin Lia, co-president

prosecutor Bogdan Pîrlog, co-president

[1] See the webpage https://www.g4media.ro/exclusiv-parchetul-general-a-clasat-dosarul-de-spalare-de-bani-in-care-erau-vizati-compania-omului-de-afaceri-costel-comana-si-actualul-ministru-al-justitiei-catalin-predoiu.html.

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