The issue of the proceeds obtained through corruption, currently so difficult to recover, could finally be resolved. Justice Minister Raluca Pruna has announced that the next European directive to be transposed into Romanian legislation will be the one concerning extended confiscation. In contrast to the Romanian law, the Directive stipulates confiscation from third parties too, which means the money can be confiscated from relatives and friends too.
The Justice Ministry team is already working on transposing into domestic legislation the long-awaited European directive on the extended confiscation of assets, the Justice Minister announced on a social media network.
Raluca Pruna also rejected the criticism recently levied by ex-Premier Victor Ponta about the alleged delay in transposing the European Directive on the right to a fair trial. Pruna pointed out that the transposition deadline for that directive is 1 April 2018 and there are other European directives that have to be transposed earlier than that.
“I salute a surprising preoccupation with the timely transposition of EU directives. It’s the preoccupation of those who did not do so albeit they were in the position to do it. Doctors of law already know: the general deadline for transposing a directive into domestic law is usually 2 years (sometimes even three),” Raluca Pruna wrote on Facebook, alluding to ex-PM Victor Ponta’s Ph.D., which was suspected of plagiarism.
The Justice Minister gave assurances that the Justice Ministry team is working on transposing directives whose deadlines are closer to expiring, the first on the list being Directive 2014/42/EU on the extended confiscation of assets, whose deadline is 4 October 2016.
“I am starting in order, with Directive 2014/42/EU, on extended confiscation. And I stake on the unexpected help of those recently converted. There is time for everything, I’m only saying we should take the directives in turn. Everything else is electioneering,” Raluca Pruna pointed out.
The directive on confiscation, which includes extended confiscation, was adopted by the European Parliament in 2013. The directive stipulates extended confiscation, which means that apart from the sum established by a court of law as damage, the judge has the obligation to audit the assets of the person sentenced and to order the confiscation of the sums of money that cannot be justified. The sums concerned can be confiscated from relatives too, something that is currently not stipulated by Romanian legislation.
National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi recently warned, in her turn, that although some criminals are behind bars their assets are still intact. In many cases, prosecutors have ordered the extended confiscation of assets but the proceeds of crime are not being fully recovered.
“It’s my duty as minister to give the judiciary a single text as part of an emergency ordinance”
Justice Minister Raluca Pruna said on Thursday that it is her duty to provide the judiciary with a stable version of the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code, and that the provisions of the relevant Emergency Ordinance were discussed at the Supreme Council of Magistrates (CSM) and with lawmakers.
“For absolutely every amendment, for each text there, in the ordinance, the CSM issued its favourable opinion one and a half to two years ago when all these texts were filed in Parliament. All texts had been discussed prior to that. (…) I have noticed that in six months of tenure we were unable to make headway on this agenda and I said it is my duty as a minister to give the judiciary a single text which, of course, is part of an emergency ordinance,” Raluca Pruna stated at the CSM.
Asked about the reasons why she considered that an emergency ordinance is needed to amend the Codes, Pruna said that this was the only possible way to address an element of instability of the judiciary.
“Why an ordinance? Because there were numerous Constitutional Court texts (…) that declared some provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code unconstitutional and we had a 45-day deadline (…) to set them in line and we went significantly beyond that deadline. All these texts had been discussed in Parliament, they had passed through the Senate, and since we were not making headway and because the entire judiciary complains of legislative instability, we said that bringing it all together within an ordinance and having a text, (…) we said that this is the way we could solve this instability,” Pruna pointed out.
She reminded that there were emergency ordinances amending the Criminal Procedure Code before too, however there is no desire “to compete” with those who did that before.
“I did not say it publicly before but I’m saying it now: there were emergency ordinances amending the Criminal Procedure Code before too. It [the Code] came into force on 1 February 2014, and the first emergency ordinance was on 3 February 2014, so two days later. And others followed, (…) there is a long list of such ordinances,” Pruna explained.
The government adopted at its May 18 sitting the Emergency Ordinance amending the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code.
„Prison conditions are bad, but not all detention centres are the same”
Prison conditions in Romania are bad, but there are detention centres where directors manage to make them better, Justice Minister Raluca Pruna told a questions and answers session on her Facebook page.
“I know very well the prison conditions and I am the first to say they are bad. As I have said, we are working on it; however, we cannot solve a systemic problem in a short time. It must be said that not all penitentiaries are the same. With good managers, such as those in Timisoara, serving time is more dignified,” Pruna replied to a question on prison conditions.
On the other hand, she said pardoning those sentenced for less serious offenses would not solve the underlying problems of the penitentiary system.
“We are trying to find solutions other than pardoning, which would only solve the situation of those currently in detention, not the systemic problems,” said Pruna.