Criminality registered a downward trend in 2016, for the fifth consecutive year, Interior Minister Carmen Dan stated on Wednesday at the ministry’s activity review meeting.
The activity report meeting of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MAI) for 2016 was attended by President of the Senate Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, Speaker of the Deputies’ Chamber Liviu Dragnea, Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu, Director of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) Eduard Hellvig, General mayor of Bucharest Gabriela Firea.
According to the minister Carmen Dan, 2016 registered the lowest crime rate, down by 7 percent year-on-year, and street crime fell by over 9 percent.
Likewise, 2016 is the fourth consecutive year in which the number of traffic deaths remained under the 2,000 mark, Carmen Dan pointed out.
She also pointed out a drop in the number of domestic violence cases, while in rural areas the cases of theft dropped by 14 percent and the cases of robbery dropped by 8 percent.
In what concerns organised crime, the number of operative actions against it rose by 26 percent year-on-year in 2016, with 200 organised crime rings being dismantled.
At the same time, the degree in which the proceeds of crime were seized also rose, almost 4 billion lei being seized.
In what concerns the integrity of MAI employees, in 2016 there were 189 cases in which ministry employees refused bribes, and 95 percent of them passed the integrity test.
Grindeanu: MAI employees’ salary level should reflect their type of activity and risks
Present at the Interior Ministry’s 2016 activity review meeting on Wednesday, Premier Sorin Grindeanu expressed his conviction that the MAI employees’ salary level should reflect the type of activity they are carrying out and the risks they expose themselves to.
“As Head of Government, it is my obligation to make sure that the employees of state structures are enjoying all the salary rights they deserve from the standpoint of their activity, and that they have the logistic endowment needed. I know that within the MAI the endowment is not really at the level at which it should be, but efforts are being made to improve the situation, including through the drawing of European grants. As you know, these days we are looking for solutions for the MAI personnel’s salary rights. I have the conviction that the salary level of the people in this ministry should reflect the type of activity they carry out and the risks they expose themselves to. We must eliminate discriminations between professional categories and find equitable solutions, in line with the funds available. I expect you to remain impartial, objective and especially apolitical,” Grindeanu said.
He also pointed out that, in line with the governing platform, MAI’s priorities in the following years will centre on the citizen’s safety.
“Raising the citizens’ degree of safety and combating criminality, particularly financial-economic criminality and corruption, must remain the MAI’s major objectives. I assure you of my support and my government’s support in all the overtures you will make in this sense. You’ve acted responsibly and you’ve efficiently managed the challenges generated by illegal migration, through better collaboration with the border police authorities of neighbouring states,” the Head of Government said.
The Premier thanked the MAI employees for the fact that every day they turn professionalism, courage and responsibility into safety and confidence on the part of the citizen.
“I was thinking how much unseen effort is needed to ensure normality, for our daily safety. I’m aware that every day you are making all efforts to reach the results you presented today,” he said.
Sorin Grindeanu reiterated that his first working visit to the MAI, as Prime Minister, took place at a time when a great part of the country was gripped by snow and severe cold. He deemed that the MAI’s interventions back then saved maybe hundreds of lives, being at the same time a show of force and dedication.
He also pointed out that the Interior Ministry “fulfilled its main objectives, as it did every time,” against the backdrop in which the citizen’s safety level has risen, criminality is on a downward trend and emergency situations were managed in an integrated and efficient manner.
The Premier emphasised that the local and parliamentary elections last year were organised in a fair and transparent manner.
Tariceanu: Unlike other three-letter agencies, MAI did not engage in political games
Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu, present at the Interior Ministry’s 2016 activity review meeting, claimed that, unlike other three-letter institutions, MAI did not try to get involved in political games, nor was it “a star” in the media.
“In a normal state, three-letter institutions do not display their trophies, do not parade before citizens or the media. I consider that, unlike other three-letter institutions, MAI structures did not try to engage in political games. The path to normality, which has been constantly discussed since the start of this year, is based on collaboration between state institutions, on them respecting each other and not lying in ambush,” Tariceanu stated on Wednesday.
He stated that the way in which MAI structures have evolved in recent years and the results obtained shows that Romania has competent public order institutions capable to intervene in support of citizens.
“As a Liberal and a supporter of democracy, I want to congratulate you for the fact that, although you represent a ministry that has at its disposal the use of force, you’ve acted in observance of the citizens’ rights and liberties. Unlike other three-letter institutions, MAI did not abuse force. A safe Romania is a country in which the citizen feels protected by state institutions and is not a victim of abuses. It’s a step that all Romanian institutions must take and which the MAI has already taken,” the Senate Speaker said.
Tariceanu offered his support so that MAI structures maintain their independence and objectivity. He congratulated the institutions involved for ensuring the proper conditions for the holding of local and parliamentary elections last year.
The Senate Speaker also outlined the measures taken to improve crisis management.
“The Colectiv tragedy brought to attention a crucial aspect in your activity, namely the management of crisis situations. In the years that have passed since, you’ve proven that you’ve taken seriously your role in improving your activity in this field,” he said.
According to Tariceanu, MAI was one of the actors in the fight against tax evasion and economic criminality. He emphasised the importance of prevention, adding that a legislative provision in this domain would encourage fairness and discourage criminality.
“An important initiative of the Grindeanu Government, which both the party I lead and I will personally support is the adoption of the prevention law. (…) It’s essential because it changes the paradigm of the relationship between state institutions and the business sector. Far too often, the representatives of the local business sector have talked about the fact that they are treated as culprits. The prevention law is necessary because it will help people observe the law and correctly pay their dues,” Tariceanu explained.
The Senate Speaker added that the Romanian Police, the Gendarmerie and the other structures of the MAI have proven that they are on the same level with their European and NATO counterparts.
“Although we are not members of the Schengen Area, Romania has behaved like a state with prerogatives specific to Schengen members, and the MAI has proven professionalism at a time when the migration wave swept over Europe,” he said.
SRI Director Hellvig: IntMin, SRI waging same war with different weapons
Director of Romania’s Intelligence Service (SRI) Eduard Hellvig, attending a 2016 activity report meeting of the Romanian Interior Ministry (MAI), said the SRI and the MAI are waging a similar war using different weapons, as Romania’s enemy are their common enemies.
“We are not waging different wars, but our weapons differ. Romania’s enemies are our common enemies. As far as the SRI is concerned, intelligence is our only weapon and observance of the law is our only shield. We will continue to use this weapon efficiently and responsibly to provide useful intelligence for securing public order and the safety and security of Romania,” Hellvig said.
He added that the partnership between the MAI and the SRI is vital to Romania’s national security.
“I personally believe that cooperation between the SRI and the MAI in 2017 is important to keeping up the best response level to increasingly more diverse situations. I believe we should train together and together exercise real-time responses to threats and risks. We must intuit correctly the future shaping up for Romania in the present regional and global contexts. The organisation I am running is preoccupied with understanding and anticipating the future, because it will significantly influence us as society and democracy,” said Hellvig.
In his opinion, the latest developments force the SRI and the MAI to consolidate their partnership.
“Some threats against public order can turn into serious threats against national security. Many times they are thought-out precisely for the greatest impact on national security. As well as being natural, partnerships between our organisations are extremely necessary, and that is why I want to thank you for your excellent cooperation at important moments in time,” said Hellvig.
He added that SRI has first rate intelligence gathering capabilities praised by Romania’s NATO allies. At the same time, he said strengthening democracy arises from a balance among all the organisations designed to protect the citizens and the state.
Liviu Dragnea to SRI Director Eduard Hellvig: Everyone knows about “0215,” don’t be jealous. PSD leader attacks Ciolos Government’s decision on DGPI ordinance
Present at the MAI’s activity review meeting on Wednesday, Lower Chamber Speaker Liviu Dragnea told SRI Director Eduard Hellvig not to be jealous that everyone knows about DGPI, namely the “0215 unit.”
“I want to refer a bit to – what’s it called? – the Directorate for Intelligence and Internal Protection. Did I get it right? The General Directorate… 0215. Everybody knows it. Don’t be jealous, mister director,” Dragnea told Hellvig.
“Just like the MAI, which, unfortunately, has been through a lot of political convulsions for many years now, starting around 2008-2009, and was able to maintain its stability, DGPI also went through transformations, some beneficial, others not. Maybe some didn’t want this structure to continue to have the capacity, force and efficiency it once had,” Dragnea added.
He pointed out that the Ciolos Government’s decision to introduce, through an emergency ordinance, profound changes within DGPI was a “risky” one.
“Yesterday (Tuesday – editor’s note) we passed the bill approving the ordinance, with some changes. And I’ll make a digression here: the former Government’s decision to adopt profound changes to the structure of this institution through GEO [government emergency ordinance] was risky. What if Parliament was mad and shot down the GEO? What would have happened then? Of course, Parliament is yet to go mad and approved the GEO, of course, with some amendments that came particularly from the MAI,” Dragnea emphasised.
He pointed out he wants the DGPI to become once more a serious partner for the other Romanian intelligence services and for the prosecutor’s offices, as well as for all the other institutions that need such a partner, in a regime of fair, constitutional and legal collaboration.
Prosecutor General Lazar at MAI’s activity report meeting: I appreciate integrity of police officers
Prosecutor General of Romania Augustin Lazar on Wednesday appreciated the integrity of police officers and the prevention activities conducted in this regard by the Interior Ministry (MAI).
“I would want to especially appreciate the prevention activities that are carried out within the MAI, a high volume of prevention activities, conducted efficiently. If we take a look at the 67 tests taken by the policemen, a number of 64 tests were alright in respect to the integrity of police officers, which I say is absolutely remarkable. It’s a good practice for other institutions also,” Lazar said at the presentation of the activity report meeting of the MAI for 2016.
He spoke about the preventive activity of the MAI, reflected in the volume of reports carried out by the law enforcement bodies within the ministry.
“A number of 78 percent of these reports were carried out when caught red handed, which means that the law enforcement bodies were exactly where they were supposed to be, at the right time, having an active role and fast reaction capacity in order to fulfill their mission and this is very important for the MAI officers and in general for the judicial bodies,” Lazar revealed.
The head of the Public Ministry referred to the activity volume in terms of finding and investigating the economic-financial cases and the ensuring measures that were taken in order to recover the damage.
“Moreover, it’s to be noted the volume of cases relating to tax evasion, which represents an essential indicator both for the MAI, the Judiciary Police, as well as for the Public Ministry. Here we have to say that, although this year the judicial bodies had a bigger efficiency, however out of the total defendants sent to court, the percent of the ones charged with tax evasion stood at only 3 percent. This is a serious matter that should make us think more, both policemen, as well as prosecutors, to be able to better detect the tax evasion offenses, as well as the offenses of smuggling, money laundering, that affect the national budget resources,” Lazar explained.
The Prosecutor General also presented the priorities of the Judiciary Police and of the ones of the Public Ministry prosecutors.
“I can say that there are some priorities that the Judiciary Police, as well as the prosecutors of the Public Ministry have and these priorities are connected to the categories of tax evasion, smuggling, money laundering cases, the ones which appeared meanwhile, the environment cases, that are essential because it is the natural and cultural heritage in which we live. It’s the quality of life that we have and if we are to observe the quality of our lives then these things must be resolved with priority,” Augustin Lazar said.
On the other hand, according to Prosecutor General Lazar the quality of criminal prosecution conducted in common with policemen and prosecutors must raise above the interpretations of the public space.
“Assessing the activity of a public institution means to see the quantitative activity’s mirror and, moreover, quality aspects that are very important in our work. They are more important as the activity of making justice is more sensitive, and the criminal prosecution that we conduct together imposes the best quality possible in order to prevent as many incidents as possible that are sensitive and have the nature to be publicly interpreted,” Augustin Lazar stated.
Mayor Firea: Capital budget-2 million euro for arranging 5 firefighters subunits
General Mayor of Bucharest Gabriela Firea stated on Wednesday that the Capital’s budget, that is to be presented today, stipulates the allocation of two million euros for the construction and the arrangement of five firefighters subunits.
“Within the budget of the Bucharest City Hall, that we want to publicly present today, we also comprised the amount of almost two million euros, necessary to build and arrange five firefighters subunits, requested by the Interior Ministry (MAI) and which will be constructed across the Capital, in order to have a better response time in case of possible fire and a shorter reaction time. The request goes further, because for the the next year’s budget we will also comprise the other eight requests demanded by the MAI,” Firea said within the activity report meeting of the MAI for 2016.
Gabriela Firea thanked the MAI representatives for the daily efforts they make alongside the municipal local police of the six districts, in order to guarantee the pupils’ and students’ safety, for fighting criminal phenomenon and drug consumption.
She spoke about the collaboration initiated in order to fight domestic violence, mentioning that there is a municipal shelter destined to victims and that aggressors benefit from psychological counseling.
The General Mayor claimed that very good results, in the citizens’ interest, in ensuring the public order can be obtained only through an “extraordinary” collaboration between institutions. She thanked the MAI representatives for their efforts during the winter, adding that it was the hardest winter of the past five-six years.
“Together we managed to unblock all the main arteries, the access to hospitals, schools, public institutions and we proved that through institutional collaboration – and, I would say, human collaboration – we removed snow less efficient than in the past years,” she mentioned.
In September last year, the municipal counselors of Bucharest approved the establishment of 13 firefighters subunits in Bucharest