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September 17, 2019
JUSTICE

JusMin Raluca Pruna at Eurosfat Forum: Romania, no longer apprentice in combating corruption

Romania is no longer an apprentice when it comes to combating corruption, and the obligation of the Romanian authorities is making sure that no one is immune to justice and that the proceeds of crime are confiscated.

“We have walked a long way and I believe, as minister, that we are at a stage when Romania has long time ago ceased to be an apprentice when it comes to combating corruption, and it is a model in the region, which I declare unreservedly. We are now a country, which, through its institutions, is involved in many international mechanisms inside the United Nations, the European Union and the Council of Europe, and we are in many respects promoters of an anti-corruption agenda on an international level,” Pruna told a Eurosfat debate forum.

She mentioned to the point the Romanian Government being invited next week to attend a meeting of the UK Anti-corruption Forum to be organised by British PM David Cameron.

“The Government will reiterate there what it has done recently, namely its unreserved commitment to support the national anti-corruption authorities through stable legislation, proper resources and independence from political pressures, which are not scarce, at least they were not so over the past few weeks. (…) I declare unreservedly that (…) we have a legal framework, we have an organisational framework and we witness maybe one of the greatest offensives in the fight against corruption. Therefore, I believe this is a serious time, when we must make sure that what was gained, not easily and not in a short time, is preserved and, on Romania’s Government behalf, our obligation and commitment is to make sure no one is granted immunity from justice, that the proceeds of crime, including corruption, are investigated and confiscated, and that what was taken from the real beneficiaries, from the society in a broader sense (…) is restored to the society,” said Pruna.

She mentioned that Romania is at a stage when a new country project for the fight against corruption is needed, arguing that joining the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), including or firstly the Anti-bribery Convention, is more than a challenge; it is also a goal generating higher performance, economic performance included, for the Romanian state.

“The results of Romania’s organisations – the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA), the National Integrity Agency (ANI), the courts of law – put an important pressure on the Government for their proper funding, a pressure on the administrative bodies, and I would like to believe that on the legislature as well, so that what has been gained (…) will not be lost in the blink of an eye,” Pruna added.

 

Pruna on CVM: Time for Romania to use internal mechanisms to correct any slippage

 

Raluca Pruna stated that she and Premier Dacian Ciolos discussed with the European partners a timetable providing Romania the prospect of having the CVM lifted; the JusMin added that the time has come for Romania to act as a mature member state, using the internal mechanisms to correct any slippage that might occur.

“In the government’s vision, the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) (…) is a necessary and useful tool for advancing substantial reforms in Romania. The mechanism (…) was set in place under a decision of the European Commission in 2006, and ten years later the natural question is whether this mechanism has achieved its goal. I think it’s no need for me to give an answer, suffice to look at what the institutions were in 2006 and what they are today. And then the answer is that indeed, the mechanism has been an instrument to put healthy pressure and in the absence of which – I say this without reservation – Romania could categorically not have been what it is today in terms of anticorruption fight. Therefore, in my capacity as anti-corruption expert (…) and I dare say, as a pioneer in this field in this country, I am the last to challenge the need for the mechanism, but I think it is time for Romania to act as an equal-rights member, a mature member state that uses the internal mechanisms to correct any slippage,” Raluca Pruna said at the Eurosfat debate forum.

The minister added that despite certain limit moments that sent emotions running high in society, the institutions have proven that they work properly.

The Justice minister said that the talks she and the Premier had with the European partners were in the light of the presupposed closing of the CVM, mentioning also that the last three relevant reports are positive.

Raluca Pruna mentioned that various other instruments are at hand to solve the remaining problems of the judiciary.

 

“I plan to request declassification of interception infrastructure cost”

 

Minister of Justice announced that she intends to request the declassification of the cost of the interception infrastructure.

“What I intend to do, and I think this is my moral, if not also legal obligation as a member of the Supreme Council for National Defence (CSAT), is to ask that we have at least an indicative idea of what the infrastructure did cost from the moment it was created up until now, because otherwise the society will not know how to choose. We relay this figure of one billion euros, I said it not because someone whispered it to me, but because I read a piece of information on this. So in connection with this I intend to request the declassification of at least the infrastructure cost,” Raluca Pruna told the Eurosfat forum.

Referring to requests to declassify CSAT decisions on wiretapping, Pruna said that in no country the decisions of such a body are fully disclosed.

“We can complain that these decisions are secret, but that’s the law. The society may request it, let’s see if it can also fix this: have everything in this country declassified. Yet at the risk of drawing criticism, I tell you that nowhere in the world, in mature societies, the decisions of a CSAT-type body are fully declassified. So let us set a standard, but stay realistic: we cannot declassify everything,” said Raluca Pruna.

After the Eurosfat forum, the minister said that knowing the cost of the interception infrastructure is for the purpose of the public debate on interceptions and on what solutions should be best to adopt, and that if the relevant figures are pinpointed in CSAT decisions, a partial declassification is needed for indicative purposes.

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