Justice Minister Tudorel Toader announced on Monday at the Parliament Palace that Romania is due to participate in a GRECO (Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption) meeting on 12 June, through a Justice Ministry representative.
“On 12 June, I hope I’m not mistaken, there will be a new meeting [of GRECO, ed.n.] in which the person representing the Justice Ministry, Romania will be participating in this body. I do not know their agenda (…). They probably have a very rich agenda, they will also have an item regarding Romania’s report,” Toader said.
The minister added he has clarified that the GRECO report on Romania is intermediate and prior to the finalisation of the law-making procedure in Justice.
“As far as I am concerned, I have clarified these two things, that the report (GRECO) is intermediate, it is prior to the finalisation of the law-making procedure in Justice, prior to the amendment procedure of the Criminal Code – criminal procedure. It is certain that the amendment process will take into account those standards and we are certainly observing the procedure, but we do not have an official statement as yet,” Toader maintained.
“It shouldn’t be understood that GRECO writes the law in Romania; it just shows standards”
Previously, he had affirmed that Romania’s legislation is not drawn up by GRECO which only makes recommendations regarding on standards and trends.
“These are recommendations. Never in the Romanian language was a recommendation ever mandatory; we are talking about recommendations in the preliminary procedure. We are at the stage where the laws are being discussed and they show us the standards to which we should be headed. You should not picture that some GRECO expert body comes and sets out some solutions, after which Parliament moves quickly to implement them. They provide some recommendations, some directions for the developments in the legislation, and then they will return to see how they have been transposed (…) It should not be understood that GRECO writes the law in Romania. GRECO just points to standards, trends,” Toader said.
He also made remarks on his correspondence of late with GRECO.
“It was originally said that there is an official statement that says: the recommendations are mandatory. I wrote to GRECO: Give me that statement. It does not exist. There was just correspondence. I know that correspondence but I kept on asking for two things: give me, please, an official GRECO statement – do not read the regulation to me, because I know it, you can read it yourselves. <<Just release a statement with those exact words; did you tell the media in Romania that the recommendation is mandatory? No, we did not. [We meant] the regulation>>. We know the regulation and we respect it,” said Toader.
The GRECO rules of procedure adopted during the first plenary meeting in 1999, and last amended on 19-23 June 2017, stipulate the exact GRECO procedures. The document is posted on GRECO’s official website in the ‘key documents’ section. Apart from GRECO’s organisation, leadership, and other administrative issues, the Rules of Procedure stipulate the clear procedures of evaluation and the rules of compliance with the recommendations.
According to the document, “GRECO members shall comply with the recommendations contained in the evaluation report and implement them fully, within the time limit set by GRECO.” Likewise, the obligation to transmit a situation report within 18 months after the adoption of the evaluation report, indicating the stage of the measures taken to comply with the recommendations, is clearly stipulated.
On Friday evening, the Justice Minister wrote on his official Facebook page that he asked GRECO to transmit to the Justice Ministry the official press release regarding the “mandatory” nature of the recommendations.
“I have asked GRECO to transmit to the JM too, the official communique regarding the “mandatory character” of the recommendations of the recent report, which the press keeps talking about. The answer received: ‘There is no official communique, however it seems there was electronic correspondence at the level of the Secretariat’! In these conditions, I am asking any holder to make public such an official communique!”, Tudorel Toader said.
In April, GRECO published its Report on Romania, in which it expressed its profound concern about certain aspects of the laws adopted by Parliament on the statute of judges and prosecutors, on the judicial system’s organisation and the Supreme Magistracy Council, and about the proposed amendments to criminal legislation.