Justice Minister Raluca Pruna believes that the Memorandum on Justice put together by professional associations is just a repetition of recurrent problems, saying she would have liked the document to refer to more important topics such as the magistrates’ salaries, discretionary effects of criminal law or immunity lifting.
“Just a few words on magistrates’ protests. I do not write in ?technocrat jargon,’ but in a responsible language, a language of common sense and expertise in the field that no politician shares. The memorandum is mainly a repetition of recurrent problems, for 20 years now: in 2000, I was almost alone in dealing with this topic. I am glad that now we have a decent number of magistrates that were silent at the time… Tough times after 2004…” Pruna said in a Facebook post on Wednesday.
She said that the magistrates’ salaries can be said to be low when compared with other advanced European Union countries, but not compared with other professional categories in Romania – physicians, teachers or even high ranking administrative positions.
“Unworthy salaries today? Maybe. If we compare ourselves with all top member states. Ireland is the preferred example. It’s all questionable if we compare them with those paid to physicians, teachers and most high ranking central public servants. Almost 1 to 6, next to Belarus and Russia (according to ECHR). Against Ireland, we’re 1 to 2,” Pruna said.
The minister said that magistrates’ salaries are just one aspect to be mentioned in the memorandum.
“I would have liked it to mention transparently other incomes: they include the magistrates and registrars’ sine die rent money (600 euros per month in Bucharest). Even for retired magistrates that are now practicing law – never mind the income they get from law practice. Or the 1 billion-ROL monthly pensions due to a loophole in the law. Or about the 2 percent daily stipend for all those working in a different town ( including members of the Magistracy Council). All this is possible due to forcing sloppy laws, which, I admit, are not impeccable. You can look at all governments up to the incumbent,” she explained.
Another topic Pruna said she wanted in the memorandum regards discretionary effects of the criminal law: “immunity and lifting it differently in similar cases, as simple people may put it. Disconcerting for citizens…”
“From the higher-ups of the Magistracy Council: I should cut down rental subsidies and increase salaries. I did not accept this exchange, which would use the cabinet to pull this unsustainable, reckless fiscal grandeur of former governments that were completely unaltered by Western way of thinking, to which we like to relate. When and if it suits us. I could discuss reducing the rental subsidies only if CSM overwhelmingly votes on the lack of reason to maintain sine die rental subsidies, exactly the same as when applying emergency ordinance 20. (…) Privileges extended under the law not of this technocrat government but of the government of those proudest to be Romanians, which, at this pace, would leave Romanians barefoot and pension-less very soon,” the minister added.
Pruna announced that on Friday, September 23, she is invited to a debate with magistrates at the Supreme Council of Magistrates (CSM).
“I will explain in detail what the vision of the Ministry of Justice is. Not a populist one, a realist one. Other than that, I understand the fervor of candidates to the Supreme Council of Magistrates, more vocal, as they are leaders of associations and candidates for CSM. I would also expect magistrates that have written to me personally to take a step forward. The history written without you, but for you, in 2004 cannot repeat itself,” Pruna wrote.