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Bucharest
September 18, 2020
JUSTICE

Constitutional Court upholds President Iohannis’s challenge to status of local elected representatives

*The decision related to decriminalizing the conflict of interests, postponed until September 13

 

The Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) on Wednesday unanimously approved the constitutional challenge filed by President Klaus Iohannis to the law on the status of local elected representatives.

“Today we adopted just one decision by unanimous vote, to uphold the President’s challenge to Law No. 393 which we declared unconstitutional in its entirety. We considered that it creates a discriminatory regime and that the solution chosen by Parliament would have run amiss of the lawmaker’s goal of defending the integrity and accountability of the elected local official,” said CCR acting President Valer Dorneanu.

On June 22 President Klaus Iohannis referred to CCR a constitutional challenge to the amendments to Law No. 393/2004 on the status of local elected representatives

President has seized the Constitutional Court’s judges in the matter of the law on the status of the local elected representatives according to which mayors, local and county councilors who have a suspended sentence for corruption deeds can exercise their mandate; the head of state  argued that the law is contrary to the Fundamental Law, to the CCR practice, as well as to the rule of law.

“The new option of the legislator is conjectural, it doesn’t take into account a real social interest and is contrary to the social values protected by the law. In our opinion, to allow a person who has infringed a social value protected by the criminal law, and who the court appreciated that represents a social danger, to continue exercising the local elected representative mandate, is not designed to ensure the exercise of the public functions and dignities according to the rule of law”, is mentioned in the notification addressed to the CCR.

Iohannis has claimed that the law affects the anticorruption fight.

The notification filled to CCR was the last appeal, after Parliament has rejected President’s request on reviewing the law.

Also on Wednesday, Constitutional Court postponed a decision regarding decriminalizing the conflict of interests until the session on September 13.

The law providing that the local elected representatives who have hired their relatives at the parliamentary office before August 21, 2013, cannot be accused of conflict of interests, was challenged at CCR by a number of 98 deputies from PSD, UDMR, minorities, including a PNL representative. The forwarding address for the complaint of unconstitutionality was signed by the leader of the PSD deputies, Florin Paslaru, given that the project was initiated by the current interim President of the Chamber of Deputies from PSD’s side, Florin Iordache, and by the UDMR deputy Marton Arpad, being voted almost unanimously by parliamentarians from all the parties.

One of the invoked reasons by the complaint’s signatories is that the law “could lead to a constitutional conflict between the Parliament and the High Court of Cassation and Justice”, since the law itself provides an interpretation on the conflict of interests.

A second reason invoked by the authors of the complaint of unconstitutionality is that the law “has retroactive effects, breaching the principle of the non-retroactivity of the law, stated by the Constitution of Romania in the Art.15 par.2: <<The law states only for the future, except for the more favorable criminal or administrative law>>”.

The complaint also mentions: “(The law – e.n.) ensures a retroactive non-punishment provision, being a <<subtle retroactive decriminalization, a real amnesty>> for those parliamentarians who have hired their relatives before the date when this interdiction, stated by the Art.38 par. (11) of the Law No.96/2006 on the deputies’ and senators’ status, entered into force, so they will not have any criminal or civil responsibility anymore”.

 

Constitutional Court’s Zegrean on decriminalization of conflict of interest: Law observance mandatory, not matter of option

 

Judge of the Constitutional Court of Romania Augustin Zegrean said on Wednesday before of the Court sitting that is to discuss the decriminalization of the conflict of interest, as well as the status of local elected officials, that all laws must be observed.

Asked about the challenge to the decriminalization of the conflict of interest, Zegrean explained: “The Criminal Code does not refer to certain categories of people, it has general provisions. For instance, there shouldn’t be a specific paragraph in a law spelling out that one is not supposed to steal, for one to know he shouldn’t steal. Have you ever seen the interdiction to kill expressly stated in a law? No. All laws must be observed, otherwise they wouldn’t be in place, or they would include a specification: observance is optional.”

 

 

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