The Constitutional Court (CCR) rejected on Wednesday the constitutional challenges submitted by the National Liberal Party (PNL) and Save Romania Union (USR) against the Law on the Centenary of the Great Union of 1st of December 1918, as well as against the amendments to the Law on the execution of the custodial sentences.
Regarding the Centenary Law, the contesters claim that the adoption of the law doesn’t comply with the principle of bicameralism, it doesn’t indicate the budget sources for financing the celebrating activities for the Great Union and it contains unconstitutional provisions related to the President’s right to grant decorations. As for the amendments on the Sentences’ Execution Law, PNL and USR invoked that the law has not been adopted by respecting the principle of bicameralism and it is a hidden pardon.
On May 12, 70 PNL and USR deputies submitted a constitutional challenge on the Law on the Centenary of the Great Union since 1st of December 1918, in the form adopted by the Deputies’ Chamber.
“The original form of the legislative proposal, proposed by the PNL parliamentarians, was subject of important amendments in the second chamber notified by the parliamentary majority, breaching the principle of bicameralism established in the Constitutional Court’s jurisprudence. Thus, regulations that are changing the meaning of the legislative initiative have not been subject to the decision of the first notified chamber in this case, namely the Senate. In the same time, the financing sources and the budget allocations necessary in order to cover the activities performed on the occasion of the Centenary are not specifically mentioned.
Liberals said that the institution of the President of Romania is circumvented from this constitutional mechanism, through the form of the law adopted in the Deputies’ Chamber, being established in parallel other kinds of medals and distinctions occasioned by celebrating the Great Union, to be awarded by the Parliament’s decision or by the Government’s decision.
Four days later, on May 16, 27 USR deputies and 24 PNL deputies signed a constitutional challenge related to the draft law amending the Sentences’ Execution Law, claiming that the principle of bicameralism was not respected and that it represents a hidden pardon.
The signatories of the notification claim that the principle of bicameralism has been breached because the draft law was subject to important amendments compared to the formed received from the Senate, by adopting 43 amendments.
It is also invoked the breach of the principle of the legal security because the inappropriate detention conditions are contradictorily defined inside the law: “Moreover, the standards imposed by one of the two definitions in the draft law are much higher than the ones resulting from the ECHR’s jurisprudence. For instance, the simple existence of the dampness and mold would be enough for the detainees to allow them benefit from the compensation provided by the law. A more serious issue is that in order to declare a detention place as inappropriate, the conditions are not considered cumulatively, but separately. Thus, all the detention places in Romania will be declared as having inappropriate conditions” shows a press release of USR.
Thirdly, the draft law would breach the principle of citizens’ equality before the law, since it establishes the possibility to buy days of punishment, which is in the advantage of the wealthier detainees.
“USR appreciates that the current government is using in the most perverse possible way the desperate situation of some of the detainees in the Romanian prisons, without having any real interest in solving the problems indicated by ECHR, with the only purpose to save the party members and the political clients from prison. In fact, most of the draft laws that benefit from the undisguised attention of the PSD and ALDE parliamentarians are related either to a pardon or to an amnesty; some of them are technically masked, others are promoted despising the Romanian people. Romania’s real problems are waiting their turn” stated the USR MP Silviu Dehelean, who is a member of the Legal Committee.
The Deputies’ Chamber adopted on May 9, with 175 “pros”, 85 “cons” and 20 abstentions, the draft law providing that the detainees imprisoned in inhuman conditions benefit from seven days reduced from the sentence for each 30 days of detention, compared to three days proposed by the Government.
The deputies in the Legal Committee adopted an amendment to the Law no.254/2013 on the sentences’ execution, which removes the obligation of the visual surveillance of the detainees during their phone calls, on the ground that the communication system of the penitentiaries will be replaced, allowing phones to be placed inside the cells, which will make the current form of the law to be unpractical.
Another amendment adopted by the deputies from the Legal Committee provides that the persons who waive their remuneration for the work performed inside the penitentiary can benefit from additional free days. Thus, additional allowances are provided to release detainees who perform paid, unpaid and at-night work.
Compared to the law currently in force, the detainees who perform paid work will benefit from 4 days deemed to be executed for three days of work (a plus of 2.5 free days for 30 days of work, compared to the law currently in force), the detainees who perform unpaid work will benefit from a reduction of 3 days of punishment for each 2 days of work (a plus of 5 free days for 30 days of work, compared to the law currently in force), while the detainees working at-night will benefit from a reduction of two days for one day of work (a plus of 15 days for 30 nights of work, compared to the law currently in force).
An amendment submitted by the UDMR PM Marton Arpad provides the possibility to “buy” free additional days, by waiving the remuneration. Thus, in the current form of the law, a detainee performing paid work receives 40% of the income, while 60% of it will be allotted to the penitentiary. According to the amendment, if the detainee waives 40% of his remuneration, namely the rate he is entitled to receive according to the law, he can be included in the “unpaid work” chapter, where the allowance of days deemed to be executed for the days of work is higher.
In two months since the law will be published in the Official Journal, the penitentiaries have to be classified depending on the detention conditions, and in four months since the publication, the history of each detainee and of his detention conditions must be done, to be able to calculate the days which will be reduced from the sentence.
The law applies to the imprisoned persons starting from 2012, when the first ECHR pilot-decision on the penitentiary conditions has been issued.
According to the draft law, inappropriate conditions are considered to be the following: inappropriate sanitary conditions in general, such as the presence of bugs, mice, fleas; the lack of minimal hygienic and sanitary endowments and products; poor food quality; the lack of the current hot water; the lack of the access to outdoor activities, the lack of the access to natural light or to sufficient air or the possibility of ventilation; the lack of an appropriate temperature for the room: the lack of the possibility to use private toilets and to respect the basic sanitary standards and the hygiene requirements.
The provisions of this law are not applicable if the person was indemnified for inappropriate detention conditions by final decisions of the national courts or of ECHR, for the period for which compensations have been granted and it was transferred or moved into a detention place with appropriate conditions.