The Romanian Judges’ Forum Association, the Movement for Defence of the Statute of Prosecutors Association and the Initiative for Justice Association: The Minister of Justice disregards the right of judges and prosecutors to association and continuing professional training

The Romanian Judges’ Forum Association, the Movement for Defence of the Statute of Prosecutors Association and the Initiative for Justice Association took note of the statements of the Minister of Justice, Mr Marian-Cătălin Predoiu, from an interview given to the juridice.ro website (“I would ask each magistrate, who attends the conferences, holds courses, gives interviews, issues press releases, how many cases he/she has solved on that day or when he/she recovers that time for work on concrete justice cases”).

With this declaration, the Minister of Justice disregards the right of judges and prosecutors to association, as well as the right of judges and prosecutors to continuous professional training, unreasonably offending a whole professional body and its representatives within professional associations.

According to Opinion n°23 (2020) of the Consultative Council of European Judges on the role of the Associations of Judges in supporting the judicial independence:

”14. The right to associate is not only in the interest of a judge. As regards judges, this right is in the interest of the whole judiciary boy as well. The right for judges to associate is explicitly granted in the UN Basic Principles for the Independence of the Judiciary , the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct and the Universal Charter of the Judge (…)

  1. The first objective for an association of judges – to ensure and defend the independence of the judiciary – includes, among other factors, defending judges and the judiciary against any breaches of independence, claiming sufficient resources and satisfactory working conditions, seeking for adequate remuneration and social security, rejecting criticism and unfair attacks against the judiciary and individual judges, establishing, promoting and implementing ethical standards and ensuring non-discrimination and gender balance. (…)
  2. Many associations of judges are involved in the training of judges either by organising training and by developing training materials or by providing the necessary training infrastructure, ensuring experienced trainers or at least giving recommendations to the institution in charge with organizing the trainings.(…)
  3. The main objectives of associations of judges – promoting and defending the independence of judges and of the judiciary, the rule of law and human rights – are aligned with the fundamental principles of the Council of Europe and the commitments of its member States. This common interest should lead to common efforts of associations of judges and member States. (…)
  4. Member States should therefore provide a framework, which makes it possible for judges to freely exercise their right to associate and within which associations of judges can fruitfully work to fulfil their objectives. (…)
  5. Politicians should refrain from trying to influence judges or their associations in order to support interests of political parties by launching threats, unjustified accusations or media campaigns or by providing professional promotions or benefits for the managers and the members of the association or by other means.”

In addition, the Opinion n°4 (2003) on appropriate initial and continuing training for judges at national and European levels states that the judiciary must play a major role or be responsible for organising the training and that training must not be entrusted to the executive or the legislative authority. The involvement of judges’ associations, which are very close to the needs and practical experience of their members, is therefore very appropriate:

”2. The independence of the judiciary confers rights for judges from all levels and jurisdictions, but also imposes ethical duties. The latter include the duty to perform judicial work professionally and diligently, which implies that they should have great professional ability, acquired, maintained and enhanced by the training which they have a duty, as well as a right, to undergo.

  1. It is essential that judges, selected after having done full legal studies, receive detailed, in-depth, diversified training so that they are able to perform their duties satisfactorily.
  2. Such training is also a guarantee of their independence and impartiality, in accordance with the requirements of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.”

The same principles have beenadopted in the opinions of the Advisory Council of European prosecutors.

Such an obsolete mentality (as the issuer himself qualifies the statements) is specific to a period that we thought was a long-dead, it cannot be accepted and fully confirms the refusal expressed by The Romanian Judges’ Forum Association, the Movement for Defence of the Statute of Prosecutors Association and the Initiative for Justice Association to hold any kind of discussions with a politician with whom they do not share any common values.

The entire work of the professional associations of judges and prosecutors is voluntary, unremunerated, carried out exclusively outside their duties, through huge efforts.

Due to this work, the key answers for the judicial system have been obtained through the judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union, the opinions of the Venice Commission, of the Consultative Council of European Judges and of the Consultative Council of European Prosecutors, as well as GRECO reports, which are essential for the rule of law in Romania, but they are not taken into account by the Minister of Justice.

Also, some of the judges and prosecutors who have fought in recent years for the independence of the judiciary and the principles of the rule of law have found themselves disciplinaryly investigated and even proposed for suspension from office by the Judicial Inspection for alleged private conversations or, as the case may be, for press releases or public interview. In this contextr, the current Minister of Justice’s attitude raises further the level of concern about how to ensure in the future the compliance with the minimum rules of a democratic state regarding the active exercise of professional interests within associations, as advocated by the reports of the European Commission and the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.

The Romanian Judges’ Forum Association

The Association of the Movement for Defence of the Prosecutors’ Statute

The Initiative for Justice Association

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