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January 16, 2021
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Gov’t changes to criminal legislation create wave of discontent and indignation: Scandal in Parliament, street protests-Updated

The Government adopted in the meeting on Tuesday an emergency ordinance for the modification and addition of the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code, Justice Minister Florin Iordache announced on Tuesday.

“The third normative act we adopted today is the GEO for the modification and addition of the Law 296 Criminal Code and Law 135 Criminal Procedure Code. In fact, under this GEO, (…) we put in agreement the Constitutional Court rulings which (…) should have been implemented by the Government or by Parliament,” Iordache said.

Asked how this ordinance modifies the abuse of office offense, Iordache replied: “That prerequisite complaint which the civil society or the mere citizens invoked was eliminated and abuse of offices was placed in agreement with the Court ruling.”

The Justice Minister also said that, according to the normative act, abuse of office with an under 200,000 lei damage will no longer be criminally sanctioned.

“It isn’t criminally sanctioned. Therefore what is under 200,000, the damage is recouped and the offender is no longer criminally sanctioned. This was also what the Court recommended, to establish a quantum. Taking into account the aggravating circumstances, it is a reasonable limit, because the court could have had in view 400,000, or 1,000,000. If you take a look at the Criminal Code, it could have had in view 2,000,000 euro, and then, under these circumstances, we established this amount at 200,000 lei. This is very important, because in the public communication it appeared that we decriminalize the abuse of office… No, we regulated it better and in agreement with the Court decision,” Iordache said.

The Justice Minister also said that in the GEO there are modifications in respect to the denouncer institution. “A modification is made and a higher clarification, so that offenses remain chargeable in six months, because this is where the problems was, wether the offenses remain or not chargeable. The offenses remain chargeable, but we have very clearly pointed out what the six months mean,” Iordache said.

He also said that the GEO comes into force once it is published in the Official Journal.

Moreover, asked why this GEO was adopted in a Government meeting in the evening, without having announced the draft on the meeting agenda, Iordache said: “Because this was the time when the Government meeting was held. (…) There are several drafts on the agenda (…). The agenda was added (…) the Government can add items to the agenda.”

According to the Justice Minister, the Government is the one establishing the opportuneness of approving a normative act.

“Laws in this country are made either by the Government or by Parliament. I invite Parliament on this Ordinance that we have initiated to modify it as they see fit,” Iordache also said.

 

JusMin Iordache: Draft Law on pardoning some offenses adopted by Government

 

Justice Minister Florin Iordache also announced on Tuesday evening that the Government adopted a draft law regarding pardon for certain offenses and some liberty depriving education measures,

“We have adopted a series of measures which aim to avoid a pilot decision at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and in this regard we have adopted the draft law regarding the pardon of some offenses and several liberty depriving education measures. The second draft law targets the Law for additions to the Law No. 254/2013 regarding the sentence serving,” Florin Iordache stated at the Victoria Palace.

According to Iordache, the Law regarding the pardon of some offenses isn’t targeting “rapists, acts of corruption, acts of violence, recidivists, suspended sentences,” the main concern is recovering the damage.

“The second measure, the one targeting the Law No. 254 regarding the sentences is an initiative of the former Government, which we arranged and put it in accordance with the National Administration of the Penitentiaries (ANP), so it can be easily enforced. (…) It’s about the compensation appeal, to every ten days, the ones who are in prison and who benefit from special conditions are basically gaining a day. Practically in a month they gain 3 days,” Iordache stated.

According to the Justice Minister, the two draft laws “will go in Parliament in emergency procedure.”

Furthermore, according to Iordache, the Government also adopted in the Tuesday meeting measures that target the prisons.

“Today, once the state budget was adopted, we came with additions to the measures for avoiding (…) a pilot decision at the ECHR, by allocating some additional resources for the growth by 50 percent of the food allowance, ensuring the necessary funds for implementing the investments projects and in this regard, (…) there were allocated funding in order to start building tow prisons, each with one thousand places, one in Caracal, in Olt County, the second in Berceni in Prahova County,” Iordache mentioned.

He added that another measure contained in the state budget for 2017 is targeting the upgrading of two prisons.

“I’m talking about Giurgiu, Deva and Codlea prisons, where a number of 350 detention places will be created and 500 will be upgraded. (…) The most important problem that we took into account is the current overcrowding, (…), around 15 percent,” Iordache added.

 

Iohannis: It is a day of mourning for rule of law, which was hit strongly by justice’s opponents

 

Immediately after the Gov’t announcement regarding the adoption of the bills for the modification of the criminal legislation,  President Klaus Iohannis wrote on Facebook that “it is a day of mourning for the rule of law, which was hit by justice’s opponents”, referring to the drafts on justice adopted on Tuesday in the Government sitting.

“Dear Romanians, today is a day of mourning for rule of law. The rule of law, that was hit strongly by the opponents of justice, fairness, and fight against corruption,” wrote the head of state on Facebook.

He considers that the Government of Social Democratic Party (PSD) – Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) ignored “the dream and aspiration of millions of Romanians who want to live in a country freed from corruption.”

“Today, the Government PSD-ALDE annulled the work of tens of thousands honest and courageous people in Romanian Justice that proved in the last years that nobody and nothing is above the law. The Government PSD and ALDE annulled the efforts made by millions of Romanians in making Romania a country respected in Europe!,”, President Iohannis showed.

The head of state specifies that it becomes very difficult to recover the damages.

“The result of the vote of December brought to the the formation of a majority, which formed a legitimate Government. But the vote does not represent a blank check which allows a majority to do everything, from adopting populist measures that risk to put into question the economic stability in the next years, until effectively walking over upon justice and rule of law. In December, people went to vote with the hope of a better living, not for a weakened legislation in the area of anticorruption. The real stake is how we want the future of Romania to look in which people would want to live, not a Romania from which they would once again want to leave,” the head of state underscored.

He believes that “the PSD’s defiance to the people is full,” pointing that Social-Democrats forget about an essential thing and namely the “values on which a democratic state, a veritable rule of law is built, do not belong to a majority or a minority of conjuncture,” but they belong to all Romanians.

“From today, my mission is to re-establish the rule of law. I will do all everything that is possible to make Romania a freed country of corruption! I will fight until the last day of my mandate to do this thing!,” President Iohannis concluded.

 

Bucharesters protest in front of Gov’t seat against GEOs on criminal legislation

 

Over 15,000 people took to the street in Victoria Square on Tuesday evening to protest against the ordinances on the modification of the Criminal Codes and the draft law on pardon.

The protesters chanted slogans such as “Dragnea, don’t forget, your book, too, we expect!,” “DNA [the National Anticorruption Directorate] should come and take you!,” “Come to the street if you care a bit!,” “An abuse is an abuse, the GEO I refuse!.”

Moreover, they held placards with messages such as “In democracy, thieves stay in jail,” “#We can see you” and “Get your claws off of Justice.”

“The protest has ended. The demonstration took place without problems, there have been attempts to enter the interior yard of the Government, by forcing the access gates. No sanctions have been enforced. Those wanting to demonstrate their discontent in the public space can do it, but only peacefully and observing the law,” Gendarmerie Spokesperson Georgian Enache told Agerpres.

 

President Iohannis: It’s a mockery of the Executive to adopt at night a GEO on Criminal Codes

 

President Klaus Iohannis criticized on Wednesday morning the Government for adopting the GEO regarding the Criminal Codes, claiming that “this matter is not tolerable.”

“It’s inconceivable, a mockery for the Government to adopt at night an emergency ordinance in such a sensitive area as the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code, without the opinion of the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM), without bringing a documentation on the meeting agenda. This matter is not tolerable,” Iohannis stated before the CSM meeting.

He pointed out he’s attending the CSM meeting in order to find out what are the viewpoints of the justice system representatives on this matter.

Moreover, the head of state mentioned that after the discussions with the CSM members, he will say what decision is to be taken in this case.

 

Klaus Iohannis: Justice independence – seriously breached; we must take attitude; first step – CCR notification

 

Justice independence has been seriously breached by the Government by adopting the Government Emergency Ordinance (GEO) for the modification of the criminal codes, President Klaus Iohannis also said on Wednesday, who proposed to notify the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) in this case on institutional conflict.

“The only way that I don’t accept is for us not to do anything. It is an offense brought to justice. You are in charge with justice independence, which has been seriously breached. My opinion is that we must take attitude not only on a declarative level (…), but also on an institutional level. I imagine that the first step is the CCR notification, because there is an institutional conflict between the justice system and the Government. I am proposing this thing to you, not imposing it on you,” Iohannis said at the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM) meeting.

 

Head of State:  I am thinking about paying a visit to Ombudsman; we all expect position assumption

 

President Klaus Iohannis announced that he is thinking about paying a visit on Wednesday to the Ombudsman, to tell the latter that he expects from him a position assumption in respect to the Government decisions.

“I am thinking about paying a visit today [Wednesday]. I have not seen him in a long time, I don’t miss him, but I believe that I must tell him in person we all expect a position assumption,” the head of state said at that the Superior Council of Magistrates (CSM) meeting.

 

Protest at Government; demonstrators – dissatisfied with modifications to criminal legislation

 

A few hundred persons were protesting on Wednesday morning in front of the Government building against the decision made by the Government concerning the modification and addition of the Criminal Codes, but also the pardon of some sentences.

The demonstrators have begun gathering in Victoria Square around 9:00.

Protesters were chanting “DNA [National Anticorruption Directorate], DNA should come and get you!,” “Thieves, thieves!,” “Down with the Government!.”

 

CSM head, on GEO on amending the Criminal Codes: We do not make decisions on impulses and pressure

 

The Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM) will take a position towards the Emergency Ordinance on amending the Criminal Code and Code on Criminal Procedures after a thorough analysis and will not act under the pressure of events, CSM President Mariana Ghena said on Wednesday morning.

“We must think, we do not make decisions on impulses and pressure, on the pressure of the situation, evidently (…). We will think and, once we take a decision, be sure we will communicate it,” Ghena stated, before the start of the CSM sitting.

In her opinion, the CSM sitting for analyzing the draft of Emergency Ordinance, that was sent by the Government on Tuesday afternoon, could not be convened sooner.

“I received, I registered these requests and immediately convened the agenda of today’s plenary meeting. (…) We couldn’t have done it sooner than today at 9:00. The situation came up afterr the opening hours and, as such, sooner it could not be convened. On the other hand, in order to convene and establish an emergency measure, we should have studied and seen, what we actually did, we studied the content. (…) We should not answer in rush with mistakes,” the head of the CSM also said.

 

 Prosecutor Lazar on the GEO on amending Criminal Codes: It has to be examined by CCR

 

The emergency ordinance regarding the amendment of the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code has to be challenged with the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR), Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar stated on Wednesday.

“As it seems, we stand before a done deal. (…) It is a good challenge for the judicial authority which is the one that has to prove that it truly is essential, and it cannot be treated as a negligible quantity. (…) It’s under an ongoing course of examining who should file a challenge with the Constitutional Court and it is imperious necessary to be challenged and examined by the Constitutional Court, because the unconstitutionality slideslip is obvious. And I think this sideslip can easily be noticed,” Augustin Lazar stated before the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM) meeting.

In his opinion, through the legislative amendments carried out by the Government there were removed a series of instruments which were necessary in the fight against corruption.

“In order to have an efficient fight against corruption, to have an efficient enforcement of the law one needs to have judicial instruments (…) that will be able to fight this phenomenon. When we joined the European Union we had exactly this legislative package and now we notice that, gradually, these instruments, which are the most efficient, are removed,” the Prosecutor General added.

 

CSM members unanimously vote to notifiy CCR for power conflict in GEO adoption case

 

The members of the Superior Council of Magistrates (CSM) have unanimously voted on notifying the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) in order to find the existence of a conflict between powers in the case of the adoption of the GEO on the amendment of the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code.

 

 DNA’s Kovesi: We convened DNA leadership committee; we have 2,151 abuse of office cases under investigation

 

Chief-prosecutor of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) Laura Codruta Kovesi announced she convened on Wednesday the DNA leadership committee m4eting, to analyse the risk of coming into force of the modifications brought to the Criminal Codes, through the ordinances adopted by the Government.

“We have convened for today the DNA leadership committee meeting, in which participating will be all prosecutors with leading positions within the central structure, but we have also consulted the territorial structure, especially to analyse the risks of these modifications coming into force and the direct effects which they will have on each case. In general, I can tell you that, at the moment, we have 2,151 cases under investigation, with the object of the abuse of office offense. Over the past three years, over 1,170 individuals and over 30 legal persons were sent to court for abuse of office, and, extremely relevant, is that in these cases that led to trials the damages established amount to over one billion euro. The risk of all these cases being affected will be felt the moment the provisions in this ordinance come into force,” Kovesi told Digi 24 private television broadcaster.

 

Protests in Parliament. PNL and USR MPs demand Government’s resignation and snap elections

 

photo pag 1PNL and USR MPs protested on Wednesday on the hallways and the plenum hall of the Lower Chamber and the Senate, demanding the resignation of the Grindeanu Government and the holding of snap elections.

PNL and USR Lower Chamber MPs first gathered in the hallway, shouting “shame” and “resign,” many of them holding red ties on which they had stapled sheets of paper reading “Government’s Resignation,” and others holding blue paper sheets reading “Snap Elections” and “Shame,” Agerpres informs.

PNL and USR MPs repeated their protest within the Lower Chamber’s plenum hall, namely at the rostrum, where they gathered and chanted “thieves.”

Meeting chairman Gabriel Vlase (PSD) asked the quaestors to restore order in the room, and the protesters calmed down after a few minutes.

PNL and USR Senators protested on Wednesday at the start of the Senate’s first plenum meeting of the current parliamentary session, holding placards with messages against the parliamentary majority and hitting their desks with the fists, news.ro informs.

The protest erupted after Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu interrupted the speech of USR Senator Vlad Alexandrescu. The ex-Culture Minister wanted to criticise the parliamentary majority for the Government’s adoption of the emergency ordinance amending the Criminal Codes. “You are abusing the legitimacy of the vote and honest people,” Alexandru managed to say before Tariceanu cut off his microphone.

“We do not accept this abuse,” all PNL and USR Senators started chanting, holding placards reading “shame,” “at night like thieves” and hitting their desks with the fists.

 

PNL’s Turcan: If Government doesn’t resign, PNL will file today a censure motion

 

Interim Chairperson of the National Liberal Party (PNL) Raluca Turcan claimed on Wednesday morning that if the Government doesn’t resign, the Liberals will file a censure motion on Wednesday.

“The entire Social Democratic Party (PSD) – Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) Government has to resign. This Government has to pay for the acts they committed and we have to start demarches for early elections. If the Government won’t resign, the PNL will file a censure motion,” Raluca Turcan stated at the Senate.

I called upon all parties in the Opposition to sign the censure motion against the PSD – ALDE Government.

“I also call upon all the good faith members of Parliament to vote the motion against the PSD – ALDE Government. This Government is irresponsible and it has to pay for it. (…) I am confident that today we will witness a solidarity between the opposition parties in order to endorse the censure motion and I also believe we will have the solidarity of the honest MPs of this county in order to take down this irresponsible Government,” Turcan added.

When asked if the PNL MPs are considering their resignation from Parliament, the interim Chairperson of the PNL explained that the Liberals will have a meeting, in which they will decide “what could be the alternative political steps of the PNL.”

“At the same time, I’ll tell you my opinion: the PNL must have a responsible behavior, because we enter in a political fight and we don’t know where it would get to, and it is certain that the PSD and the ALDE won’t stop here. I believe we have the duty to make those political decisions that could have a finality, to make those decisions that will have an impact on the citizens’ expectancy level. My personal opinion is that we have to use all the parliamentary instruments and these instruments are represented by the censure motion, the parliamentary protest, public messages, solidarity in the public space, resignation demands in respect to the Government and serious parliamentary debates, with arguments, so that we can do our duty as an opposition party,” Turcan added.

 

Victor  Ciorbea: The Ombudsman can’t raise unconstitutionality exceptions but to laws and emergency ordinances in force

 

The Ombudsman can’t raise unconstitutionality exceptions, except in regards to laws and emergency ordinances in force or simple ordinances, Ombudsman Victor Ciorbea stated before the meeting with president Iohannis.

“In respect to the Emergency Ordinance (for amending the Criminal Code – e.n.) I expect to see the Official Journal of Romania. As I understand (…) the ordinance would be enforced in ten days, or according to the article 32 of the Law No. 47/119 regarding the organization and functioning of the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR), the Court decides over the unconstitutionality exceptions that are challenged directly by the Ombudsman regarding the constitutionality of a law or an ordinance, or of a decision from a law or an ordinance in force, therefore if the ordinance enters into force in ten days, in all this interval we have no authority,” Ciorbea stated for Agerpres on Wednesday.

He said that in regards to pardon, a draft law was approved that will be sent to Parliament in an emergency procedure.

“It will be debated by Parliament and right after adoption, it can be challenged with an unconstitutionality objection with the CCR, by the parliamentary groups, and by the President and so on. Therefore, in respect to pardon, it’s out of the question for us to rule on it, at this stage. (…) We’ll have the opportunity to do so in that stage, after it’s adopted by Parliament, alongside the President of Romania, alongside the parliamentary groups, we can carry out an unconstitutionality objection. After that, after the law has gone through all these stages and has been promulgated by the President of Romania, let’s say that we can raise anytime then an unconstitutionality exception,” Victor Ciorbea stated.

He mentioned that currently what President Iohannis stated is valid, also in respect to what he discussed in the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM) meeting regarding the triggering of a judicial conflict of a constitutional nature, in which case the CCR can be notified by the CSM, the Government, the Parliament heads and the head of state.

“At this stage the CCR can be notified in respect to a judicial conflict of a constitutionality nature by the ones I mentioned, starting with the head of state, and continuing with the presidents of the two Chambers, the Government and so on,” Victor Ciorbea added.

Ciorbea also said, when referring to President Klaus Iohannis’ statements about paying him a visit, that he “kindly” expects him.

“In respect to the President paying me a visit, I kindly expect him, we are honored anytime by his presence or any other high rank dignitary of Romania and it is good that, from time to time, some of them also remember this institution, which was actually established 20 years ago in our country,” Ciorbea said.

 

President Iohannis after meeting Ciorbea: Ombudsman can challenge GEO with the CCR; there is precedent

 

President Klaus Iohannis said on Wednesday that the Ombudsman can notify the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) on the modification of the Criminal Codes, showing that there is a precedent in the case of challenging such a normative act in 2013.

“I know that it has been circulated earlier this morning in this area that the Ombudsman cannot intervene because certain articles are still not in force. Together with the jurists with the Presidential Administration we searched for documents and found [something]. There is a precedent of October 2013 when the Ombudsman then challenged a GEO on insolvency, on 9 October, although it was supposed to come into force on 25 October, and the CCR at that time decided that the notification is correct. Therefore without any kind of problem and using this precedent this emergency ordinance can be challenged,” Iohannis said after he met Ombudsman Victor Ciorbea.

He showed that he put these data at the Ombudsman’s disposal, showing that he promised to analyse the situation “with celerity.”

“My hope is that until tomorrow or maybe the day after tomorrow he will make the right decision and notify the CCR,” Iohannis said.

He said that the Ombudsman will have to “look a little around, besides the purely judicial situation, and see that Romania is revolted.”

“These things cannot be ignored and cannot be explained through the fact that in other countries there were also protests. These protests are here, in Romania, the rule of law is attacked in Romania and here we must set things in order,” Iohannis said.

The head of state pointed out that he explained the Ombudsman why it is important to notify the Constitutional Court “mainly the lack of emergency reasons and content issues.”

 

Ombudsman Ciorbea after meeting President Iohannis: We will analyse President’s arguments and will try to take decision as soon as possible

 

The Ombudsman, Victor Ciorbea, announced on Wednesday, that he will analyse President Klaus Iohannis’ arguments regarding the possibility of challenging the GEO with the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) with respect to the amendments of the Criminal Codes, stating that the decision will be taken as soon as possible.

” The President mentioned a decision from 2013 of the CCR, because the legal texts are the ones mentioned this morning. We will seriously analyse the arguments presented by the President and will try to take a decision in the shortest time. (…) If we read the law, this is what it says, that if there are CCR decisions that make exception to this legal provision, we analyse them and see what we can do,” Ciorbea declared after the meeting with president Klaus Iohannis.

 

Turcan: Government has defrauded public opinion’s trust, hence PNL tenders no-confidence motion

 

The National Liberal Party (PNL) will tender on Wednesday, 1 February, a no-confidence motion against the Grindeanu Government, the approach being to be supported with signatures by the Members of Parliament from the Save Romania Union (USR) and the People’s Movement Party (PMP), announced the PNL interim Chair, Raluca Turcan.

“The motion’s text is already drafted, signatures are collected, today we are going to tender the no-confidence motion and its main topic is to oust Grindeanu Government for defrauding the public opinion’s trust, by rescuing their skin through dedicated laws,” said Turcan at the end of the meeting of the PNL reunification Committee.

 

She specified that the approach by the PNL is backed by the USR and the PMP, adding that she has also talked in this respect with leaders Nicusor Dan and Eugen Tomac.

“The imperative of this moment is to mobilise all of the people of good faith, regardless of their political options. What we have seen in the past few days shows a huge confidence fraud and an enormous lie engineered by Liviu Dragnea, Calin Popescu-Tariceanu and their accomplices, in order to save their skins and put them to shelter from the value and weight of the law in Romania,” asserted Turcan.

 

PNL calls upon European institutions to closely follow situation in Romania

 

The National Liberal Party (PNL) will call upon the European institutions to closely follow the situation in Romania and maintain high standards as regards rules and principles that our country must observe as a Member State of the EU, declared on Wednesday the interim president of PNL, Raluca Turcan.

According to her, besides the fact that PNL is going to submit a censure motion, the Liberals requested the emergency debate of the ordinance amending the Criminal codes “on the example of the Law of 102 taxes and rates” and its rejection. At the same time, PNL firmly supports all the demarches of President Klaus Iohannis for defending the rule of law, underscored Raluca Turcan.

“We notice that Romania’s Government behaved as an organised criminal group. They concocted these ordinances, they lied about issuing them, they tarried talks so that they could strike at night time, in a non-transparent way, when people least expected it. Moreover, through these ordinances they decriminalised governmental abuse, in other words they decriminalised the very action they have carried out. They behaved as a group of criminals and they provided for themselves a law that would save them. It is an unprecedented thing, they have managed to make a fool of Romania in front of the entire Europe, they managed to antagonize an entire society, a society that is hoping that at the head of the decisive factor in Romania are responsible people. (…) From our point of view, this was a premeditated action. They have prepared this since the electoral campaign, they hid what their intention was for days, they lied to the public opinion, then they decriminalised this exact abuse. It is a string of actions that makes you think of street thieves, but during night time, stated the PNL leader.

Raluca Turcan specified that the PNL members will continue to join the protests, to be together with the citizens in the street, without politicizing these demonstrations in any way.

“The civic spirit manifests profoundly in PNL ranks. In the territory, our colleagues are in the middle of protests, on justice’s side and on the side of this country’s citizens of good faith. We will go to any demonstrations that will follow, as we did so far. As citizens of this country, we do not want to politicize the street demonstrations, we want to be there, and we will be there as concerned people and people who want a different kind of future for Romania,” Raluca Turcan explained.

 

Iordache on Criminal codes’ amendments: We need clear law, that can be correctly enforced

 

The Minister of Justice Florin Iordache, declared on Wednesday with respect to the OUG related to Criminal Codes’ amendment, that a clear, concise law, that can be clearly enforced is needed, adding that the pardon law does not target politicians.

“We need a clear, concise law that can be clearly enforced,” Iordache said in Parliament.

He also claimed the pardon law does not target politicians.

“It doesn’t target criminals, nor rapists, nor people having committed serious felonies, nor politicians,” declared Iordache.

 

JusMin:  Laws are made in Parliament and enforced by justices and prosecutors

 

Justice Minister Florin Iordache also said on Wednesday that the point of view of the Supreme Council of Magistrates (CSM) regarding the OUG (Government Emergency Ordinance) on the amendment of the criminal laws (Criminal Code, Criminal Procedure Code) is mere advisory, stressing that the laws are made in Parliament and are enforced by the justices and prosecutors.

“Referring to the point of view by the Supreme Council of Magistrates, the point of view they have given this morning is, I repeat, mere advisory. They have tendered a point of view a week ago, when the draft law was under debate, further arguing it is not matter of urgency. What greater urge do they need when facing non-unitary practice?! Within a year, different solutions were handed down in courts and, given the circumstances, (…) we deemed it is the government’s duty, as long as the Parliament didn’t do its job. So the government had to step in to regulate the matter through Emergency Ordinance. At the same time, this OUG too will reach Parliament,” Justice Minister Iordache said at the Parliament Palace.

According to Iordache, Parliament law committees have the obligation to move expeditiously and determine whether the draft acts need or not any more amendments. “I say it again, laws are made in Parliament and are enforced by justices and prosecutors,” Iordache added.

The Justice Minister underlined that all commentaries on this topic deny the separation of powers in the state.

“All commentaries made in the public space deny the existence of the three powers and the separation of the powers in the state. I shall further militate that the laws must be altered here, amended here, that you have the last word,” Iordache told the Social-Democrat Members of the Parliament present at the group’s reunion.

He added that he wished to explain his MP colleagues these laws, because “unfortunately, communication was truncated.”

 

Marin Neacsu confirms Grindeanu-Klemm meeting

 

Marian Neacsu, the Honorary Advisor to Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu in the area of the relation with Parliament, confirmed on Wednesday a meeting of the Prime Minister with the US Ambassador in Bucharest, Hans Klemm.

He specified that the meeting was requested by the US Ambassador.

“I do not have many details. As far as I know, I think that things have unrolled as I know, the meeting should have taken place this morning, and I think that a meeting between Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu and US Ambassador Hans Klemm is taking place or has taken place. The meeting was requested by the US Ambassador and was scheduled for this morning. (…) It is a meeting scheduled for a long time for today (e.n. Wednesday) and from what I know it has taken place today. I do not know the subjects of discussion,” Neacsu stated at the Senate, underscoring that he does not know the place of meeting.

 

 President Iohannis demands PM Grindeanu to repeal freshly adopted ordinance on Criminal Codes

 

President Klaus Iohannis on Wednesday wrote Premier Sorin Grindeanu asking him to repeal the freshly pushed through Government’s Emergency Ordinance amending the Criminal Codes, the Presidential Administration announced.

“Having regard to the provisions of Art. 115 Para. (4) of the Romanian Constitution, according to which the Government may adopt emergency ordinances only in extraordinary situations requiring prompt regulation, in the light of the fact that the Government adopted this piece of regulation the day before the start of Parliament’s ordinary session, which puts into question the very need for this move, considering the incidence of the provisions of Law No. 317/2004 on the Supreme Council of Magistrates which confers on this authority, as the guarantor of justice independence, the competence to approve draft regulations on the activity of the judicial authority, noting that the Supreme Council of Magistrates has been dropped out of the decision making process related to the respective Emergency Ordinance, considering that this piece of legislation was adopted also by ignoring the professional opinions previously expressed within the judicial framework, taking into consideration the deeply negative effects this Emergency Ordinance produces on the functioning of the rule of law and implicitly on Romania’s efforts towards the combat of the phenomenon of corruption and ensuring the integrity of public office, I hereby request the repeal of Emergency Ordinance No. 13/2017 amending and supplementing Law No. 286/2009 on the Criminal Code and Law No. 135/2010 on the Code of Criminal Procedure,” reads the letter the head of the state sent Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu on Wednesday.

In the letter President Iohannis mentions that the Government adopted on Tuesday Emergency Ordinance No. 13/2017 amending and supplementing Law No. 286/2009 on the Criminal Code and Law No. 135/2010 on the Code of Criminal Procedure, and that the act was published in the Official Journal on Wednesday.

 

PNL and USR submit censure motion in Parliament

 

The National Liberal Party (PNL) and Save Romania Union (USR) parliamentarians submitted on Wednesday a censure motion entitled “Grindeanu Government – the Government of National Defiance. Do not legalize theft in Romania.”

“This is the censure motion that PNL together with USR submit today. It is called “Grindeanu Government – the Government of National Defiance. Do not legalize theft in Romania.” It is the first important political demarche that the Opposition carries out in Romania in a crossroads moment, in a moment in which, through emergency ordinances, through the Government’s decisions, there is an attempt to legalize theft in Romania. We hope all the citizens of good faith uphold this demarche in the public space, at the same time we would like all parliamentarians who believe in the supremacy of the law, who have good faith and respect the citizens, to vote for this no-confidence motion. This is the legal, institutional solution for the resignation of the Government and also the solution to get to snap elections,” stated the interim PNL leader, Raluca Turcan, at Parliament Palace.

She added that the censure motion was signed by 124 parliamentarians from PNL and USR and has also discussed with PMP parliamentarians who said they would join this demarche.

 

Constitutional Court registers Supreme Council of Magistrates’ notification on conflict among state powers

 

The Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) on Wednesday registered the notification of the President of the Supreme Council of Magistrates (CSM) regarding the acknowledgement of a legal conflict among the state powers, following that until 7 February the parties involved tender their points of view, official sources told Agerpres.

According to the sources, the deadline to discussing the notification will be set after the points of view are referred to the Court.

 

Senate rejects emergency procedure on ordinance amending Criminal Code and pardons bill

 

The Senate’s plenum rejected on Wednesday the emergency procedure that the Government had requested for the ordinance amending the Criminal Code and the bill on the granting of pardons, so that a report on the two legislative acts will be issued by February 21.

PSD Senator Serban Nicolae announced at the Senate’s plenum meeting the Standing Bureau’s proposal to reject the emergency procedure that the Government had requested. According to the Standing Bureau’s decision, notes will be issued on the two draft legislative acts by February 14 and the report by February 21.

“We are talking about an extremely delicate issue. Collective pardons are granted only once every 20-30 years. It’s an issue that requires special attention. We should weigh the measures of [social] reinsertion for the convicts that will be released, we should be certain that these measures are not adopted for someone in particular. We should outline a social reinsertion programme, so that this wouldn’t generate delinquency and insecurity for the Romanian population. I believe two weeks, from the 1st to the 14th is a very short time. I am asking my colleagues to adopt a 60-day deadline for this debate,” USR Senator Vlad Alexandrescu stated.

PNL representatives stated the same thing at the Senate’s plenum meeting.

“The bill concerns a measure of clemency, for Romanian citizens who are serving time in penitentiaries. Consequently, we are not in a state of war. Yesterday the Government also showed tolerance toward the citizens who are protesting and transformed the ordinance into a bill, precisely for it to benefit from debate in Parliament,” PNL Senator Iulia Scantei stated.

The Senate voted to reject the emergency procedure.

 

Raluca Turcan: Ombudsman dismissal request filed with Joint Standing Bureaus

 

PNL’s acting president Raluca Turcan stated on Wednesday that PNL has filed with the Joint Standing Bureaus its request to have the Ombudsman dismissed, stating that Ombudsman Victor Ciorbea chose to act as an institution subordinated to PSD.

“We filed with the Joint Standing Bureaus an official request to have the Ombudsman dismissed for breaking the law, for the fact that he does not respect the norms through which this institution must support the citizens in relation with state institutions. The Ombudsman chose to behave like an institution subordinated to PSD and there were numerous cases in which citizens did not feel represented by the overtures of the Ombudsman,” Turcan said when asked about the stage of PNL’s bid to have Ombudsman Victor Ciorbea dismissed.

The holder of the office of Ombudsman is appointed by the two Chambers of Parliament for a term of 5 years. The dismissal of the Ombudsman, as a result of him/her breaking the Constitution and the law, is decided by the Lower Chamber and the Senate in a joint meeting, with the majority of votes cast by the lawmakers present, at the proposal of the Standing Bureaus of the two Chambers, based on the joint report issued by the two Chambers’ judiciary committees.

 

PNL to talk with UDMR, ALDE and PSD MPs about support for censure motion

 

PNL will discuss with UDMR MPs and with “good faith” members of ALDE and PSD, in order to obtain support for the censure motion, PNL acting president Raluca Turcan stated on Wednesday, adding that the Government and the parliamentary majority passed laws for their personal interest.

“Obviously, we will talk not only with UDMR, we will also talk with colleagues from PSD, from ALDE, people of good faith, people who want equal treatment for politicians and regular citizens in this country and, likewise, with MPs who don’t want to see the corrupt saved through laws passed through Parliament for their sake,” Turcan said when asked whether she will hold talks with UDMR to garner support for the censure motion.

 

UDMR President Kelemen Hunor: Amending the Codes through Government decree shows the Government’s amateurism

 

UDMR President Kelemen Hunor stated that the Government adopting amendments to the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code through emergency ordinance is a mistake that exposes “the Government’s amateurism.” The Government’s representatives give the impression that they never governed before, Kelemen points out.

Kelemen Hunor stated for Mediafax on Wednesday that UDMR does not agree with the two Codes – the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code – being amended through government emergency ordinance (OUG).

“The Government’s demarche to issue an emergency ordinance on the two Codes is a mistake and it’s not good, we do not agree with the two Codes – the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code – being modified through OUG. The paradox is that the Codes were modified through OUG three times in less than a year, twice by the Ciolos Government last May and now this Government comes along and modifies them also through OUG. This manner of issuing OUG three times in a year is not acceptable, it shows lack of seriousness. Each time the Codes were modified through ordinances, through the undertaking of responsibility, through any other method that avoids Parliament, it later turned out to be a mistake. I don’t know why they are not learning from past mistakes. (…) At any rate, a lot of amateurism is seen in what this Government is doing these days, it’s as if they never governed before, it’s as if they started doing it now,” Kelemen said.

 

The talk PSD’s Gabriel Vlase and Mircea Draghici had with Nicusor Dan on Parliament’s hallways: Do you want us to end up like Ukraine?

 

PSD’s Gabriel Vlase and Mircea Draghici had an informal discussion with USR President Nicusor Dan on the hallways of the Lower Chamber on Wednesday, the two reproaching Nicusor Dan with the behaviour of USR lawmakers and asking him whether he would like for PSD to behave in the same manner.

“It doesn’t work like this, this is the Parliament. You’re not controlling your parliamentarians. Things have to be different here,” Vlase told Nicusor Dan.

“Yes, but things have to be different at the Government too,” the USR leader retorted.

“Then go at the Government. You’re not controlling your parliamentarians. I have 200, what if I were to ask them to do the same? Do you want us to end up like in Ukraine?” Vlase added.

“This can’t be, one can’t even go and speak at the microphone,” PSD’s Mircea Draghici intervened. He also told Nicusor Dan that USR MPs have not even filed their wealth and interest statements and, moreover, that USR has problems in what concerns the way it financed its elections campaign.

“There’s nothing illegal,” Nicusor Dan pointed out.

“It will be proven and you know it very well, it’s obvious,” Draghici told him, according to Mediafax.

The three stopped talking the moment they realised journalists had started filming and recording their conversation.

 

Dacian Ciolos: Unspeakable contempt which throws Romania back to bygone era

 

Ex-Premier Dacian Ciolos pointed out in a message posted on Facebook that the legitimacy of the vote does not give any Government the right to behave in a discretionary manner, to covertly legislate issues as sensitive as those which concern the judiciary.

“The Grindeanu Government’s decisions, [taken] with the support of the PSD-ALDE majority, with regard to the amending of the Criminal Code for the benefit of politicians probed for corruption, show terrible contempt for all the fair and honest citizens of Romania. What happened this evening is unspeakable contempt for the judiciary and the rule of law, which throws Romania back to what we thought was a bygone era,” Ciolos wrote on his Facebook account.

He considers that the price that Romania and Romanians will pay because of the decisions the Government took on Tuesday evening is incalculable.

“The legitimacy of the vote does not give any Government the right to behave in a discretionary manner, to covertly legislate issues as sensitive as those that concern the judiciary,” Dacian Ciolos added.

 

Catalin Predoiu: Gov’t has aided and abetted, Prosecutor General should take note

 

Lower Chamber Deputy Speaker Catalin Predoiu stated on Wednesday that the Justice Minister and the Premier have committed “the crime of aiding and abetting,” and asked the Prosecutor General to take note and the judiciary to defend its independence and the separation of powers.

“Last evening (Tuesday – editor’s note), Mr. Iordache and Mr. Grindeanu committed the crime of aiding and abetting, instigated by Mr. Dragnea. The Prosecutor General could look at these actions. These ordinances did not appear out of nowhere. Someone wrote them, someone worked on them, there are witnesses, computers, and I believe we should all find out the circumstances in which they were thought out, discussed, drafted, hidden, promoted without the lawmakers and the public opinion knowing about it,” ex-Justice Minister Catalin Predoiu said.

Catalin Predoiu stated that the actions of the Government “are taking criminal forms that must be urgently probed.”

“It’s not possible to end up legislating in this country by committing a crime,” Predoiu said.

With its decisions, the Government has interfered in the judiciary and has hindered investigations, the Liberal said, calling on the judiciary “to react.”

“Through what it did last evening, the whole Government has interfered in the judiciary’s domain and prerogatives, because the legislative act it drafted has hindered investigations and has helped criminals get off scot-free, people that should have been held accountable before the law. Now it seems that is no longer possible. This was done by breaking the independence of the judiciary, through a conflict between the executive branch and the judicial branch,” the Lower Chamber Deputy Speaker said.

Predoiu pointed out that all dictatorships started through “apparently legal and constitutional” decrees issued by the Government, by Parliament.

The Government, through its decisions, has jeopardised Romania’s long-term geostrategic interests, Predoiu said.

“Whether deliberately or not – this is what law enforcement people must find out –, the Government has played into the hands of foreign forces that want to destabilise Romania,” Lower Chamber Deputy Speaker Catalin Predoiu added.

 

German Embassy: The Government passed over the major doubts of the President and of the Justice

 

German Embassy in Bucharest said on Wednesday, through a press release, that by adopting the GEO, the Government passed over the major doubts of the President, Justice and of a large part of the people.

“Last night, the Romanian Government issued two GEOS that we broadly know and that amend the Criminal Code, as well as criminal amnesties. It’s obvious that through these decisions, the Romanian Government passed over the major doubts of the Romanian President, of the Justice and of a large part of the people. We follow these developments with some concern. Because a large part of the civil society in Romania already expressed very clearly its concern about the decisions taken and the subject in question”, shows the press release issued by the German Embassy in Bucharest.

The German Embassy also refers to the statements of the European Commission’s representative on the same matter.

“In this context, European Commission has already made a critical statement this morning, through its Vice President in office, Timmermans, and through President Jean-Claude Juncker. We believe we can assert that these decisions are not a good and fair signal at all, considering some imminent decisions at the European Union’s level, concerning Romania. For this reason, we wish to have clear answers from the Government, related to its vision about firmly continuing the fight against corruption and strengthening the rule of law, in this changed legal frame-conditions”, the press release also shows.

 

Read also:  Romania situation on European Parliament’s agenda on Thursday. European Commission: We are following with great concern the recent developments in Romania

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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