„Romanian Judges Forum” and „Justice Initiative” Associations: “International Anti-Corruption Day” marks a sad reality in Romania

The “International Anti-Corruption Day”, initiated on 31 October 2003, by the United Nations Convention against Corruption, aims to promote ethical principles, integrity, transparency and accountability.

Unfortunately, over the last few years, the review of the anti-corruption efforts of the Romanian authorities can no longer be considered a positive one, given, mainly, the legislative changes that have disrupted the judicial system and have seriously affected the principles of the rule of law.

Structurally, the establishment of the Special Section Investigating the Offenses in the Justice System (SIIJ) has had significant negative effects on the competences of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), although the strengthening of DNA was a requirement within the CVM and its third benchmark.

Among the commitments Romania has made when joining the European Union, it stands out a demonstration of sustainability and irreversibility of progress in the fight against corruption, which meant institutional strengthening of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate. The Declaration adopted by the General Assembly of the European Partners Network against Corruption and the European Network of National Contact Points (EPAC/EACN), held on 20 November 2015 in Paris, reveals that corruption poses a serious threat to development and stability, has negative consequences at all levels of government, undermines public confidence in democracy and requires from European decision makers to strengthen the fight against corruption, in particular the introduction of a cross-border exchange of financial information for investigating corruption cases, accessible to law enforcement agencies/institutions, the establishment of an appropriate instrument on both national and transnational level for the protection of key witnesses at risk and of those who report corruption offenses and the enhance of cooperation and information exchange between anti-corruption authorities and police supervisory structures in Europe, by using the new EMAC/EACN communication tool of the Europol Expert Platform.

Therefore, demonstrating the sustainability and irreversibility of progress in the fight against corruption did not involve splitting up the specialised prosecutor’s office, as long as its results were appreciated and encouraged by the European Commission, but to strengthen it institutionally.

The Association „Romanian Judges Forum” and „Justice Initiative”  have publicly requested the dismantling of this prosecutor’s office structure (Special Section Investigating the Offenses in the Justice System) dozens of times in recent years, but the executive power and the legislative majority have disregarded all these appeals.

We also draw attention on the lack of serious steps for the adoption of amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure, transposing the provisions of Decision No. 55/2020 of the Romanian  Constitutional Court, in the sense of regulating a procedure for challenging measures for technical supervision and obtaining financial data, as well as the declassification of the acts that formed the basis for the authorisation of those measures, when they concerned interested persons who are not party in the criminal proceedings, which would have led to the rescuing of the criminal evidence already administered in the case. As a result of this Constitutional decision, it was impossible to use the intercepts made on the basis of national security mandates, although they were authorised by a judge within the Supreme Court. 

It remains incomprehensible why, although he had an entire professional apparatus within the ministry, the former Minister of Justice (Mr. Cătălin Predoiu) initiated, exclusively in his own name, in his capacity of MP, a legislative draft aimed to amend, incorrectly, the Law no. 51/1990, instead of Criminal Procedure Code, the legislative proposal being incomplete, without taking into account all the situations existing in practice and being de facto abolished by the Legislative Council.

This state of affairs will be followed by the imminent application, beginning with 1 January 2021, of the legislative provisions regarding the panels of three judges in appeals, which will impede courts to function and will cause serious delays in resolving all cases, including high corruption cases.

In the midst of the pandemic, this year was the first since 1989 in which no competition for admission in the judiciary were held, as the legislative power and executive power (especially the Minister of Justice, which did not responsibly propose to the Parliament at least one minimal legislative draft throughout the year 2020) were unable to adopt a swift regulation in order to comply with a decision of the Constitutional Court issued in March 2020. The unprecedented situation overlaps with a moment when there are hundreds of vacancies in courts and prosecutor’s offices, the expected effects in this case being similar to the measure of duplication of study period at the National Institute of Magistracy, a decision belonging to the anti-reform period of sad memory known as Iordache-Toader period.

„Romanian Judges Forum” Association

 „Justice Initiative” Association

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