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September 26, 2020
JUSTICE

Justice Ministry opens vault containing magistrates’ secrets: Pruna proposes draft law on declassification of SIPA archives

The Justice Ministry wants to open the vault in which the Romanian magistrates’ secrets have been lying for many years. Raluca Pruna wants to tally and declassify, where possible, the archives of the Independent Service for Protection and Anticorruption (SIPA), the Justice Ministry’s former intelligence service. The intention has been included in a draft Government decision published on Monday on the ministry’s website. The draft stipulates the unsealing of the archives of the former General Directorate for Protection and Anticorruption (DGPA), previously known as SIPA.

On the basis of Article 7 of Law no.52/2003 on decisional transparency within the public administration, republished, the Justice Ministry presents for public consultation the draft decision concerning some measures related to the archives of the former DGPA.

“The Justice Ministry believed that it would be necessary to issue a new legislative act that would have the same value, which would represent the grounds for unsealing the archives of the former DGPA, tallying them, accessing the documents of interest for judiciary officials and distributing or handing over the documents to the competent authorities,” the draft decision reads.

“The draft legislative act answers the aforementioned needs by establishing a Commission that has to rapidly tally the documents from the DGPA archives and to hand them over, in accordance with their type, to the institutions competent in managing them. The archives of the former DGPA are currently under seal, in the custody of the National Penitentiary Administration and includes both personnel files and other specific documents,” the draft reads.

According to the Government Decision drafted by the Justice Ministry and published for public consultation on Monday, SIPA archives contain three types of documents that should be tallied by a special commission established for this purpose.

The documents are ordered into three categories and will be handed over as follows:

  • The personnel files of former DGPA employees will be handed over to the National Penitentiary Administration;
  • The documents identified as having historical value will be handed over to the National Archives;
  • Classified documents, namely those documents ordered to be destroyed, will be handed over to the Justice Ministry’s security body;

The archives of the former DGPA are currently under seal, in the custody of the National Penitentiary Administration and include both personnel files and other specific documents.

The Justice Ministry points out that from the time DGPA was disbanded and until now “the Justice Ministry received a series of requests either from civil society – to clarify this aspect – or from members of the judiciary – motivated by the need to prove, in regard to requests filed in some courts while exercising their rights, requests to offer documents from the archives of the former DGPA, that they lacked the ability to legally solve said requests at that moment given the lack of legal grounds concerning the institution competent to unseal, tally and hand over or copy documents from these archives.”

“Bearing in mind that no other legislative act on the prorogation of the deadline set by Government Decision no.127/2006 has been issued, the Justice Ministry believed that it would be necessary to issue a new legislative act that would have the same value, which would represent the grounds for unsealing the archives of the former DGPA, tallying them, accessing the documents of interest for judiciary officials and distributing or handing over the documents to the competent authorities,” the Justice Ministry points out.

The commission should consist of seven members, proposed by the presidents of the institutions whose members they are, who would conclude their work six months after the commission is formed. Thus, two members would represent the Justice Ministry, two would represent the ANP, nominated by the Justice Ministry, at least one of whom should have responsibilities in the management of classified information. The Superior Magistracy Council, the High Court of Justice and the High Court of Justice’s Prosecutor’s Office should be represented by one member each.

Bearing in mind the exclusively technical character of the Commission’s activity, the draft legislative act stipulates that during the time the Commission is active the documents cannot be placed at the disposal of any other natural or legal person other than those tasked, in accordance with the law, to carry out specific works, except in the cases in which information from DGPA documents is requested by Romanian or foreign courts, provided there are ongoing legal procedures. An extra guarantee in this sense being the presence of a Superior Council of the Magistracy representative within the Commission.

 

CSAT proposal for government decision on the setting up of the commission

 

Justice Minister Raluca Pruna stated early this month that she proposed, within the Supreme Defence Council (CSAT), a Government decision on the setting up of a commission that would tally the archives.

“Ten years since the disbandment of SIPA, I guarantee everyone that it is sealed, nobody has sifted through the SIPA archives. Within the CSAT, I proposed I should issue a government decision to establish a commission that will consist of representatives from the Justice Ministry, the Superior Magistracy Council (CSM); a tally will be made and it will be decided what to do with these archives,” Raluca Pruna stated.

According to the Justice Minister, the archives will be tallied “page by page.”

“The government decision on forming that commission will be issued this summer,” Pruna stated back then.

On May 4, Justice Minister Raluca Pruna stated that she had received “a mandate from the CSAT to initiate a Government decision on establishing a commission that would tally the SIPA archives.”

 

SIPA’s history:

 

In 1991, Justice Minister Mircea Ionescu Quintus established the Independent Service for Protection and Anticorruption (SIPA), as a department under the control of the General Penitentiary Directorate, its goal being to monitor and control offences with major implications taking place within penitentiaries.

  • In 1997, during the tenure of Justice Minister Valeriu Stoica, SIPA was transferred, through the minister’s order, to the direct control of the Justice Minister, who wanted this intelligence service to deal with the protection of magistrates too.
  • In 2003, because of press scandals which revealed that former Securitate members had been appointed at the helm of SIPA, and given the fact that the Service was suspected of engaging in acts of political police, SIPA became the General Protection and Anticorruption Directorate (DGPA) and for the first time this body was obliged to present reports to Parliament.
  • In early 2006, Justice Minister Monica Macovei disbanded the intelligence service, arguing that DGPA committed abuses and the ministry did not need an intelligence service.
  • At the end of 2006, the Justice Minister established the Directorate for Crime Prevention in Penitentiaries (DPCMC), a body subordinated to the National Penitentiary Administration, arguing that an intelligence structure of this type was necessary in order to prevent illegal actions plotted from behind bars.

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