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November 13, 2019

CSM officials to discuss justice memorandum in plenary session on Monday

At a plenary session on September 19, the Supreme Council of Magistrates (CSM) will discuss a justice memorandum drawn up by professional associations.

It will look into an opinion filed by the Legislation, Documentation and Dispute related to challenges from magistrates related to the justice memorandum, as mentioned in the agenda for the session posted on the CSM website.

The National Union of Romania’s Judges (UNJR) on September 14 announced that 66 courthouses and 25 prosecutor’s offices in the country had adopted the justice memorandum that far, a document that presents problems facing the judiciary and asks for the implementation of a set of measures leading to an efficient, modern and high quality justice system.

UNJR said as of Wednesday morning five courts of appeal, 17 tribunals and 44 courthouses as well as three prosecutor’s offices with appellate courts, eight prosecutor’s offices with tribunals and 14 prosecutor’s offices with courthouses had already adhered to the memorandum, but the real number of courts and prosecutor’s offices having adopted the document is higher, but not all of them have completed their minutes.

“The adoption of the memorandum by general assemblies is the first measure of protest that has led to a programmatic document of principles, with solutions to the problems facing the judiciary and directly affecting the citizens dealing with the courts of law,” said judge Dana Girbovan, chair of UNJR, co-initiator of the memorandum.

UNJR says the memorandum emphasises the need for justice independence being respected along with the principle of separation of powers; problems with justice dispense on television ; respect for the statutes of magistrates; justice underfunding; the assessment of Romania’s progress with judicial reform under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) ; the CSM and Judiciary Inspection course of action, as well as the need for human rights and freedoms being respected.

“The memorandum is premised on justice essentially concentrating on the protections, advancement and guarantee of all the citizens’ rights and freedoms, as well as on the citizens and the state being equal before judges. The document expressly states that by adopting it, the magistrates reserve their right to makes use of all the democratic action forms for their demands to be met,” according to the statement.

UNJR added that at their general assemblies some courts resorted to additional forms of protest, such as delaying non-urgent cases or wearing armbands.

“Other courts have called on the Ombudsman, the President and CSM to notify the Constitutional Court about an alleged conflicts among state powers following the passage of an emergency ordinance by the Ciolos Cabinet that is said to preserve pay discrimination and inequities. Other courts have taken a vote on Justice Minister Raluca Pruna resigning office. This is the widest protest movement in Romania’s justice system after 2009, with judges and prosecutors highlighting at their general assemblies the problems facing the judiciary and coming up with solutions for efficient, modern and high-quality justice.”

The justice memorandum was also discussed by the chief magistrates with Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) experts.

European Commission experts in charge with the assessment of Romania’s judicial reform under a Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CSM) on September 13 met officials of Romania’s professional associations of magistrates in Bucharest to discuss the latest developments in Romania’s justice system..

In a press statement released after the meeting, the National Union of Romania’s Judges (UNJR) says talks focused mainly on magistrates’ demands included in the justice memorandum, which presents problems facing the judiciary, with CVM experts agreeing that the problems mentioned by the magistrates in the memorandum are legitimate and deserving of grounded debates and analyses.

The officials of Romania’s magistrates are said to have underscored the need for the publication of the methodology underpinning the CVM report, as well as the names of the persons and organisations providing opinions about Romania’s judiciary.

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