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September 25, 2021
JUSTICE

Lazar: Romanian judiciary appreciated as model at European level, but there are still “problems” to fine-tune, refine, harmonise within the system

Romanian Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar stated on Saturday, in Alba Iulia, at a conference on the new juridical codes, that the Romanian judiciary is appreciated as a model at European level, nevertheless admitting that there are still “problems to fine-tune, refine, harmonise within the system,” but also texts that must be corrected in line with the exigencies of Constitutional Court decisions.

Augustin Lazar also stated, at the conference which was attended by 300 judges, prosecutors, lawyers and juridical consultants from all over the country, that “the Romanian judiciary is appreciated as a model at European level,” emphasising that this was something pointed out by European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans himself, during the visit he paid to Romania.

“The new institutions brought about by the new Codes represent a degree of modernity as shown by the topic of our seminar. They show that we are at a European standard, as a European state within the select club of the European Union. And I’m telling you that I’m not making gratuitous statements. We saw just the other days that European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans, who was in Romania, gave an interview in which he pointed out that the Romanian judiciary is appreciated as a model at European level. We take this statement as such, and Romanians can be proud they’re having a judiciary at a level of high European standards, but we know there are still many problems to fine-tune, refine, harmonise in our judiciary, many texts must be brought and corrected in line with the exigencies of Constitutional Court decisions, many problems have to be clarified. Despite these problems, let us keep in mind that we have a modern judiciary, the judiciary of a European state, something that represents an encouragement for our future activity,” Augustin Lazar told his colleagues.

First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans, attending on Thursday a Citizens’ Dialogue event in Bucharest, said that the Romanian judiciary has become a model for other EU states and this is a reason of pride for Romanian citizens.

 

“Many magistrates criticise the new juridical codes, even though they should notice the positive sides that outline the modernity of these codes”

 

Present in Alba Iulia, Lazar also talked about the new juridical codes, stating that many magistrates and lawyers criticise them even though they should notice “the positive sides, the sides that outline the modernity of these codes.”

“Many colleague lawyers, magistrates, regardless of their position in court proceedings, are criticising the new codes because it’s much easier to criticise than to notice the positive sides, the sides that outline the modernity of these codes and, of course, when you work you’d like to have some laws made in such a way as to raise no problem for you, not even one of constitutionality, as happens sometimes. We would like to have ideal codes, but what do we notice in Europe? There aren’t very many states that had the courage to introduce four codes at the same time in their judiciary and to deal with them at European standards too: to have the justice of peace in criminal trials, to have the preliminary chamber judge, to give up on some institutions such as the preliminary acts institution that we recall very well and makes us smile. Now we couldn’t even imagine how acts could be made outside the framework of the penal process and how fundamental rights – the right to defence and others – would be respected outside the framework of the penal process,” the Prosecutor General said.

He added that certain institutions that are no longer relevant have been eliminated from the new codes, but other very necessary modifications such as the mandatory presentation of the criminal prosecution material were made.

On Saturday, Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar took part in the conference titled “The new Codes – between tradition and modernity, on the ground of fundamental principles – controversies in practical applications,” a conference attended by more than 300 judges, prosecutors, lawyers and juridical consultants from all over the country. The conference was organised by the Alba and Hunedoara Bars, the Alba Iulia Court of Appeals and the Prosecution Office attached to the Alba Iulia Court of Appeals. On this occasion, Lazar also launched his monograph – “Conflict of interest.”

Dr. Pier Luigi Dell’Osso, Prosecutor General of the Brescia Prosecutor’s Office, was among the guests attending the event in Alba Iulia.

“A threshold is not necessary for abuse of office. We trust the judge”

The Prosecutor General of Romania also stated that “it’s not practical to mention a threshold” in the case of abuse of office because regardless of what the threshold is “someone would question it.” “Let’s trust the judge,” Lazar said. He added that for the 50 years that have passed since the abuse of office offence was introduced nobody thought there should be a threshold.

“In the case of abuse of office, the expression ‘fraudulently carries out’ was declared unconstitutional and it must be replaced with an expression that the Justice Ministry proposed as ‘carries out by breaking the law, a government ordinance or a government emergency ordinance.’ We found this suitable for updating the text. We no longer considered a threshold for the damage caused; the Justice Ministry hasn’t proposed one and we, the Public Ministry, aren’t proposing one. We believe such a threshold is not necessary. Regardless of the threshold proposed, someone would question it, would argue it is arbitrary and hence it’s preferable for it not to exist. It’s not practical to include a threshold in the text of the law. It’s practical to trust the judge with knowing, when applying a law, in relation to the damage that an abuse of office offence might generate, to apply, to individualise the sanction without exaggerating in case the damage is small, for instance,” Augustin Lazar said.

Asked by the MEDIAFAX correspondent for his comments on the acquittals ruled in abuse of office cases that followed the Constitutional Court rulings last summer, the Prosecutor General said it will be some time until the jurisprudence is rebalanced.

“The door has been opened to considerations that vary in jurisprudence. Each one thinks in line with his/her formation. The jurisprudence was uniform until now and I believe it will take some time until the jurisprudence is rebalanced and a uniform conduct is reached,” Augustin Lazar added.

In the Prosecutor General’s opinion, no European state affords “to be indifferent to the conduct that civil servants should have.”

“Claims were made that such an abuse of office offence is allegedly not criminalised in Europe. In fact, no European state affords to be indifferent to the conduct that civil servants should have and any European state needs the civil servants’ conduct to stay within the legal framework. However, the way in which the civil servants’ conduct that goes beyond the law is criminalised is very different and some states, instead of abuse of office – which is a single offence in our country –, criminalise two or three other offences. And another category of states effectively criminalises abuse of office or an offence which is dubbed approximately similarly. Abuse of competence, for example,” Augustin Lazar said.

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