On Tuesday, the Lower Chamber adopted government emergency ordinance no.14 (GEO 14), with 292 votes in favour and one abstention. Three lawmakers did not exercise their right to vote.
Likewise, the Lower Chamber approved the law abrogating GEO 13, with 291 votes in favour and 3 abstentions. One lawmaker did not exercise his right to vote.
Prior to that, the Lower Chamber debated the two ordinances, PNL asking for guarantees that there would be no other assault on the judiciary, and USR asking for the burial of “the dead horse” – GEO 13. PSD MP Eugen Nicolicea deemed that GEO 14 was debated under an urgent procedure and “everything else are but political statements.”
PNL President Raluca Turcan asked the leaders of PSD and ALDE, Liviu Dragnea and Calin Popescu Tariceanu, as well as Premier Sorin Grindeanu, to give up any attitude that could become an attack on the judiciary. Likewise, PNL asked the parliamentary majority to say “transparently, predictably and firmly” how it intends to set the Criminal Codes in line with Constitutional Court decisions.
In addition, National Liberal Party (PNL) lawmaker Ioan Cupsa proposed the adoption of an amendment which stipulated that “GEO 13 ceases its applicability at the date when GEO 14 enters into force,” but the amendment was rejected by the plenary. He mentioned that this amendment sought to assure the MPs that the law repealing GEO 13 would not be challenged by the Constitutional Court of Romania.
“The law repealing GEO 13 has to essentially contain the amendment that we drew up. We’ve drawn it (the amendment – e.n.) up not because we wanted to and it’s not a political decision, but a responsible decision. The Constitutional Court of Romania, in two of the decisions adjudicated throughout the years, forced Parliament to also comprise, in the laws repealing ordinances, as a norm, the situation, the state of the judicial effects that were already generated (or not) by the emergency ordinance concerned. (…) We warn you that we are rendering this law vulnerable, this law that we are adopting today in Parliament, and then we will all reimburse it politically. (…) Social Democratic Party (PSD) and Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE), if you truly want the effects of OUG 13 not to occur in the future, you are indebted to adopt the amendment that we formulated,” Cupsa stated in the plenary meeting.
Dragnea not present at the vote. Turcan: His little hand would have shaken
PSD President Liviu Dragnea was not present at the Lower Chamber’s vote on GEO 13 and GEO 14 on Tuesday, his gesture being censured by PNL’s interim president Raluca Turcan, who stated that the Social Democratic leader’s “hand would have shaken were he to vote on these two bills.”
“I’m looking carefully in the hall and I’m not seeing someone who could have expressed his opinion on this vote, namely the person who brought you in this situation, Liviu Dragnea. His hand would probably have shaken were he to vote on these two bills. It seems the saga of the two emergency ordinances, 13 and 14, has ended today and a mistake has been corrected. (…) In Brussels, Premier Grindeanu said GEO 13 was a mistake, but in the country he said something entirely different,” PNL’s interim president Raluca Turcan stated in the Lower Chamber.
At the same time, during the plenary meeting, PNL asked the Grindeanu Government to resign, Turcan claiming that it “has discredited” Romania.
The Lower Chamber was the decisional forum for this bill.
Interim JusticeMin Birchall wants justice not to become battlefield for political stakes
Interim Minister of Justice Ana Birchall stated on Tuesday that through the vote in the Deputies’ Chamber in respect to the Emergency Ordinances issued by the Government No.13/2017 and No.14/2017 regarding the Criminal Codes, the public discussion on this topic can be put to rest, underlining that justice doesn’t have to become “a battlefield for political stakes.”
“I believe that through today’s vote of the Deputies’ Chamber, the public discussion related to the two ordinances can be finally put to rest. The Government’s position was also expressed through today’s vote, namely the repeal of the Ordinance No.13 was endorsed and, as a consequence, I believe that from the discussion in the public space on this topic the constructive matters will show through, but I would very much want for justice not to become a battlefield for political stakes,” Birchall stated at Parliament.
She said that justice is paramount in Romania and both the necessary instruments, as well as the observance of fundamental human rights and freedoms must be ensured.
“I believe that it’s a normal thing in a society, and I hope that discussions will carry on, both on the laws regarding the judiciary and in Parliament, and in a larger discussion, on the society level, that will lead to having this balance in observing the fundamental human rights and freedoms, and on the other hand, granting those necessary instruments in order to continue the fight against corruption, organized crime, terrorism and human trafficking,” Birchall added.
She underlined that justice is made exclusively in the courtroom.
“From my point of view, justice is made exclusively in the courtroom, based on the evidence existing in the case file, whether we are talking about a criminal, a civil or an administrative case. Justice is made exclusively in the courtroom and let’s all sit at the same table, to constructively contribute each one of us, in good faith, with expertise (…) so that justice in Romania will not become that battlefield with political stakes, that can do more harm to society. This is my opinion as a person of law, who respects this profession,” Ana Birchall stated.
“Let’s learn from the mistakes of the past in order to build the present and the future,” she added.
In respect to the investigation of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) regarding the Ordinance No.13, Birchall stated she doesn’t comment upon an ongoing investigation.
“Being an ongoing investigation, you realize I cannot allow myself to comment upon an ongoing investigation. I bring you to mind what is my mission at the interim leadership of the Ministry: the Ministry’s proper functioning,” Ana Birchall added.
In respect to appointing a new Minister of Justice, Ana Birchall stated she trusts the decision of the governing coalition’s Chairmen and of the Prime Minister.
“I trust the decision that the Chairmen of the coalition will make, together with the Prime Minister. I cannot speculate on this subject. I am convinced that whoever comes at the head of the ministry will do a good job, with good faith (…),” Birchall said.
She mentioned in this regard the fact that legal instruments for the fight against corruption, organized crime, terrorism, human trafficking, money laundering must be endured, together with observing the humans’ fundamental rights and freedoms.