Justice Minister Raluca Pruna said Thursday that she is contemplating urgent parliamentary procedures to advance a bill regarding extended powers of confiscation.
“I’m contemplating urgent parliamentary procedures to advance the extended confiscation bill, because if everybody is very serious about recovering damage, then every institution has to act. (…) Over the last year and beyond, I have notices an overall consensus in the political world over the importance of the fight against crime and the recovery of damage. (…) The meaning of a criminal sentence also entails this (…) recovering what has been stolen and in the case of extended confiscation even the proceeds of crime,” Pruna told Adevarul Live in a webcast on Thursday.
She added that she is expecting all those having displayed strong determination in the fight against crime to act in Parliament.
“When I hear in the public space that we need money to build roads, for the education system, and for the healthcare system (…) we all agree that that is true. Well, how can we get the money? We cannot resort to printing more money. We can raise the money by recovering all the has unjustly been stolen from the society, so at the risk of sounding like an incurable optimist, I believe there is no disagreement here and I am expecting all those having displayed strong determination in the fight against crime, in halting it, to act in Parliament and show that they are serious about their statements,” added Pruna.
She also mentioned a Freedom House Romania report released this spring showing that damage recovery was less than 10 percent in the country.
“I know the damage recovery percentage, as written down in court rulings, has increased quite a lot after the National Agency for Fiscal Administration (ANAF) was reformed, more precisely since its management was replaced,” said Pruna, adding that she will ask for the recovery figures.
Pruna also said that over the past years ANAF has been lenient with convicted offenders, whose assets it did not impound.
She added that the bill on extended confiscation provides for the possibility of placing a lien on assets owned by third parties as well.
“Criminal trial takes a lot to conclude, which is normal, to provide the defendant an opportunity for defence. If assets are not impounded we will certainly end up at the conclusion of the criminal trial, when there is a court ruling, with nothing to impound. (…) Suddenly, the person who has featured in Forbes becomes very poor. But the meaning is precisely to be able to put a lien from the very beginning and extend the lien to include third parties,” Pruna explained, according to Agerpres.
Pruna to ask CSM to look into reasons for population’s declining trust in justice
Justice Minister Raluca Pruna also announced on Thursday that she will request the Supreme Council of Magistrates (CSM) to look into the causes for the decline in the public confidence in Romania’s judiciary, as revealed by findings of the latest Eurobarometer survey of the European Commission.
“I was myself quite surprised to see that public confidence in justice is at 35 percent and that it had fallen 13 percentage points. As a CSM ex-officio member, I intend to ask the council to look into this situation (…) and see what caused this decline. (…) We are, I think, 10 percentage points below the European average,” Raluca Pruna told Adevarul Live webcast on Thursday.
In her opinion, the causes for the loss of public confidence could also include certain insider attacks from within the justice system.
“I wouldn’t want to speculate, but I believe that much of the public image of Romania’s justice is also due the overexposure of the judiciary to public scrutiny. And when I say exposure I don’t mean the press naturally and legitimately reporting about what happens in this area (…) but there are also instances, unfortunately increasingly many in a year when elections are being held to CSM, when the magistrates show up in public, sometimes without considering the effects of it. For instance, the fact that for months now there has been talk inside magistrates’ associations about undercover intelligence officers in justice, injects in the public space the idea that something is wrong with the system, and I think it has a perverse effect on the image of justice and public confidence in justice,” said Pruna.
She added that another possible cause for the decline of the people’s confidence in the system could be the punishments handed down for corruption, which are perceived as too lenient.