July 13, 2018
Romania’s plans for a judicial overhaul would be likely to undermine the independence of magistrates and sap public confidence in the judiciary, the Council of Europe’s advisory body on constitutional matters said on Friday.
The advice from the body, known as the Venice Commission, could provide ammunition for centrist President Klaus Iohannis, who is trying to block legal changes that opponents say would make it easier for officials to engage in corruption.
Iohannis has challenged the overhaul backed by the ruling Social Democrats at the Constitutional Court. He asked the Venice Commission to assess the bills, which parliament has approved but which he must sign for them to become law.
The Commission said in a statement that the measures contained improvements from previous drafts but were still problematic. From their “cumulative effect”, some “instruments could result in inordinate pressure on judges and prosecutors.”
The Council of Europe, made up of 47 member states, is a human rights body that shares a flag with the European Union but is separate from it. It set up the Venice Commission of experts after the fall of the Berlin wall to help advise European states emerging from communism on how to enact constitutional reforms.
The EU’s executive commission and thousands of Romanian magistrates have criticised the Romanian overhaul, saying it would leave courts and prosecutors vulnerable to political interference in one of the European Union’s most corrupt states.
June 17, 2018
The powerful leader of Romania’s governing party — convicted of voter fraud, suspected of stealing millions of dollars of European Union funds, and soon to face a verdict in a case involving abuse of power — had a message for the more than 100,000 citizens who gathered in one of the capital’s main squares recently: He is the victim.
The pro-government demonstrators in Bucharest on June 9 were protesting what they call a “parallel state” in Romania that they say perverts the rule of law with the aid of the president and the chief anti-corruption prosecutor.
If the anti-corruption forces could come for him, Liviu Dragnea, the leader of the governing Social Democratic Party, warned ominously, they could come for anyone.
“You must not be under the illusion that only high-ranking officials or public servants will be the victims of denunciations and fake evidence,” he told supporters. “Absolutely everyone today in Romania can be targeted by a denunciation which could lead to an arrest or conviction.”
June 14, 2018
The Superior Magistracy Council’s prosecutor section rejected on Wednesday, June 13, one of the Judicial Inspection’s disciplinary actions against the chief prosecutor of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), Laura Codruta Kovesi.
The Judicial Inspection argued that Kovesi violated her duties when she sent one of her councilors to perform a control at two DNA offices in the country. The CSM’s decision can be attacked at the High Court of Cassation and Justice, local News.roreported.
However, the Judicial Inspection has two other disciplinary actions against the DNA head, both started in the past year. Kovesi has been accused of violating her duties and of behavior incompatible with her position, which may have damaged the image and reputation of the local justice system.
Justice minister Tudorel Toader asked for Kovesi’s dismissal from DNA’s helm in February but president Iohannis refused to sign the order. Romania’s Constitutional Court decided at the end of May that the president must accept the minister’s request to dismiss Kovesi, but the president said he would first analyze the court’s motivation.
May 31, 2018
Romania’s anti-corruption agency (DNA) has released its first statement in reaction to the Constitutional Court’s decision on Wednesday which said that president Klaus Iohannis must move forward with the dismissal of DNA’s chief prosecutor, Laura Codruta Kovesi, following the proposal of Justice minister Tudorel Toader.
DNA’s statement reads: “It is time to send an alarm signal and express our concern regarding the potential damage done to prosecutors’ independence, which represents an essential premise of the fight against corruption. Without the existing legal guarantees, the fight would not have been possible, and losing these guarantees could mean that the ongoing investigations conducted by anti-corruption prosecutors could be gravely affected.”
Another negative reaction came from the chief prosecutor of DIICOT, Romania’s anti-organised crime and terrorism agency, Daniel Horodniceanu, who said that CCR’s decision has placed prosecutors “not under the authority, but under the potentially discretionary exercise of the Justice minister, who is a political appointee.” He added that “the constitutional guarantor of the independence of the judiciary, the Superior Council of Magistracy, has been reduced to a sterile role.”
le 30 mai, 2018
Le président roumain Klaus Iohannis doit lever son veto à une révocation de la cheffe du Parquet anticorruption (DNA), exigée par le gouvernement en dépit des protestations de l’opposition et de la communauté internationale, a décidé mercredi la Cour constitutionnelle.
Le chef de l’Etat (de centre droit), “n’a pas de pouvoir discrétionnaire” dans ce domaine et doit par conséquent “émettre le décret de révocation” conformément à la demande du ministère de la Justice, a tranché la Cour dans une décision sans appel qui représente une victoire majeure pour le gouvernement social-démocrate.
Plusieurs responsables de la coalition de gauche au pouvoir se sont aussitôt félicités de cette annonce, estimant, à l’instar du président du Sénat Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, que la procureure, Laura Codruta Kovesi, “aurait dû démissionner depuis longtemps”.
Pour l’opposition de centre droit toutefois, cette décision, prise par six voix contre trois, “porte gravement atteinte à la crédibilité” de la Cour.
Un millier de personnes sont descendues dans la rue à Bucarest pour exprimer leur soutien à Mme Kovesi et “défendre la démocratie”.
May 22, 2018
More than 900 Romanian magistrates signed by Monday evening, May 21, a “resolution for defending the rule of law,” a document made public by the Forum of Judges in Romania and initiated on Saturday during a protest staged in front of the Palace of Justice, attended by more than a hundred judges and prosecutors, local News.ro reported.
The magistrates said they adopted this resolution amid the recent public developments on amending the laws of justice, which seriously jeopardize the independence of the judiciary and the course of the Romanian state within the European Union and the Council of Europe. They also said that the overwhelming majority of Romanian judges and prosecutors didn’t accept the draft laws on the activity of the judiciary, the magistrates’ opinion being ignored.
The Romanian magistrates also noted the statements of the justice minister and of the representatives of the legislative power, which they say minimize the report of the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body. They also said that the legislative proposals that are currently under public debate represent an involution in the creation of a modern criminal justice system adapted to the new social realities, as well as a distortion of the purpose of the criminal process and the state’s criminal policy.
They also remind of the unprecedented attacks on numerous judges and prosecutors who are also involved in cases of high corruption, as well as the most important state institutions, with a defense and public security role, including the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA). Also, the magistrates said the minister of justice is allowed to publicly attack all the DNA prosecutors, speculating that they manage evidence in violation of the law.