POLITICS

USA and UK eyeball Romania, react to Criminal Code amendments

The American and British Embassies have expressed their concern about the proposed changes to the Criminal Code. The US Embassy says any change must be transparently analysed and discussed.

‘We are following the concerns generated by the amendments proposed by Parliament to the Criminal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure this week. Any changes made to these codes must be carefully and transparently analysed by all interested parties, in order to make sure that the amendments do not undermine the recent progress made by Romania in the consolidation of the rule of law and fight against corruption. As we have previously stated, such results would be a discouraging signal, especially to investors. Transparency, predictability and stability are crucial factors to attracting to Romania local and international investors’, says the American Embassy to Bucharest.

The Embassy of Great Britain in turn notes on its official Facebook page that ‘Parliament must support institutions of the judicial system and the rule of law’.

‘We are closely following and have taken note of the concerns raised about the proposed changes to the Code of Criminal Procedure. As the report of the European Commission on the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism recommends, the Parliament must support the institutions of the judicial system and the rule of law’, reads the message sent by the Embassy of the United Kingdom in Romania.

The reactions of the diplomatic representatives appear in the context where a series of proposals have been made for amending the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure.

 

Zgonea discloses what he and Dean Thompson talked about changing Criminal Code

 

The Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Valeriu Zgonea, says the US Charge d’Affaires in Bucharest, Dean Thompson, raised the subject of amending the Criminal Code during a meeting they had on Wednesday.

‘It was a matter of concern and he asked me, personally, as the President of the caucus, what my personal opinion was’, Zgonea told gandul.info.

‘A normal talk between colleagues. I told him that, as far as I was concerned, it would be a big mistake for us to promote the text during the current season of Parliament and that I did not support it. As I did not support the law on the local public administration, which aggravated some of my party fellows. Changing the Code of Criminal Procedure now wouldn’t be good for mayors, county council presidents or MPs. It is a Code that we, the same alliance, voted for two years ago. If we want a dialogue, we can invite CSM, the Ministry of Justice and develop a draft by dialogue. Otherwise, every individual will be in favour or against it, as the Liberals normally do, and Romania will have to suffer. Many of my colleagues in the opposition do not understand that such a project does not belong to the government or to the opposition, it is a project of the Romanian Parliament. When we have a very good CVM, when we fulfil it and tick some benchmarks, when we have a chance to enter Schengen in two steps, w don’t want to cause a problem and be on the defensive as it has happened in the past’, Zgonea also said.

The head of the Chamber of Deputies pointed out that ‘we are deluding ourselves’ if we expect the change of the Criminal Code will not hurt the image of the Parliament.

‘We are the most reliable partner in this region at this point and we have special relations with the US. The exchange of views and permanent communication put us in a special relationship with the USA. Today, as we speak, a delegation of congressmen is visiting the Kogalniceanu base.  From my point of view, Romania has arrived to the peak of years of efforts made by specialised institutions, judiciary, Parliament, Government and we do not want to lose this peak of duty, responsibility and respect we have from our American partners’, Zgonea said.

 

Changing Criminal Code sparks row in Senate. DNA position

 

The intention to amend the Criminal Code has generated a genuine scandal in the Senate, where the proposal that suspects taken into custody should only be handcuffs under specific conditions was postponed because of lack of quorum.

The National Anticorruption Directorate challenges the proposed changes to the Criminal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure, as it would substantially lower its effectiveness, would make the identification and punishment of criminals more difficult and would severely hurt the statute of prosecutors in the judiciary.

‘Changing the legislative framework as a matter of urgency and without objective analyses in place to attest to an imperious social need is not justified, given the fact that the new codes have been recently adopted by the Romanian Parliament after prolonged debates with all the stakeholders. In fact, the initiators, in the recitals, refer to the appearance of events that call for a change of criminal policy, however without naming those events. Criminal law must achieve a balance between the need of the society to hold liable anyone who commits a crime and the fundamental rights of the person under investigation. However, the adjustments suggested would alter such equilibrium and would make the identification and punishment of criminals more difficult. The current legislation protects the fundamental rights of the person to a level corresponding to the standards set forth by the European Convention on Human Rights, which means that the adoption of new standards that have no correspondence in the Romanian legal tradition or in the legislation of other European states is unjustified. On the other hand, introducing rules of procedure exclusively for prosecutors and not for the rest of the participants to the criminal process who have the same competence is atypical and suggests that the legislative proposal seeks to limit the investigative capacity of criminal investigation bodies’, is DNA’s position.

 

Ponta: I always welcome all the positions of the embassies; I am sure Parliament knows what to decide

 

Prime Minister Victor Ponta on Thursday said he always welcomes all the positions of all embassies, adding that he is convinced Parliament will know what to decide.

At the end of a convention on Wednesday of the National Executive Committee of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), Ponta, the national leader of PSD, was asked to comment on the reaction of the US Embassy on Wednesday that it follows the worries generated by amendments suggested in the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure, arguing that any modifications should be carefully analysed by all the interested parties to make sure they do not undermine recent progress with the consolidation of the rule of law.

“I always welcome all the positions of the embassies. I am sure Parliament knows what decisions to make,” said Ponta.

He added that on Thursday he welcomed the Charge D’affaires of the US Embassy Dean Thompson to prepare together a highly important event to Romania, namely a regional cyber security summit meeting.

 

 

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