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January 17, 2022

99 lawmakers, most from PSD, file constitutional challenge against decriminalisation of conflict of interest

The law that stipulates that lawmakers who hired relatives at their parliamentary offices before 21 August 2013 cannot be accused of conflict of interest has been attacked at the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) by 99 lawmakers. The lawmakers are members of PSD, UDMR and ethnic minority lawmakers. One of them is a PNL lawmaker. The Court will analyse the constitutional challenge on July 6. The text of the challenge is signed by 76 PSD MPs, 13 UDMR MPs, 9 ethnic minority MPs and 1 PNL MP. The accompanying address was signed by Florin Paslaru, leader of PSD Lower Chamber MPs. The draft law was signed by Lower Chamber Speaker Florin Iordache (PSD) and UDMR MP Marton Arpad, with lawmakers from all parties voting in favour of it.

One of the reasons invoked by the signatories of the challenge is that the law “could lead to a legal conflict of a constitutional nature between Parliament and the High Court of Justice,” since the draft law introduces an interpretation of conflict of interest.

A second reason invoked by the signatories is that the law “has retroactive effects, breaking the principle of non-retroactivity consecrated by Article 15, Paragraph 2 of the Romanian Constitution: “The law shall only act for the future, except for the more favourable criminal or administrative law.” By interpreting Article 38, Paragraph 11 of Law no.96/2006 on the statute of lawmakers, it will bring about a contradiction between the stipulations of general law no.161/2003 and the stipulations of specific law no.161/2003, breaking the spirit of the Constitution,” the authors point out.

Likewise, the text of the challenge also points out: “The law ensures a clause of retroactive impunity, being “a subtle retroactive decriminalisation, a veritable amnesty” for lawmakers that hired relatives before the date on which this interdiction specified by Article 38, Paragraph 11 of law no.96/2006 on the statute of lawmakers came into force, and lawmakers can no longer be held legally accountable.”

“It has to be pointed out that the “conflict of interest” offence stipulated by Article 301 of the Criminal Code does not apply to offences where there is a breaking of the law but to that “grey area” that criminalises the possibility that the civil servant may act while his impartiality is affected by a personal interest. (…) We ask you to declare the law unconstitutional in what concerns the interpretation of Article 38, Paragraph 11 of law no.96/2006 on the statute of lawmakers, bearing in mind the arguments hereby presented,” the authors conclude their constitutional challenge.

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