Justice Minister Tudorel Toader said on Friday he would send the bill amending justice legislation after receiving opinions from “everyone,” professional organisations of magistrates and the civil society.
“I know the expectation from CSM [Supreme Council of Magistrates], from DNA [National Anti-Corruption Directorate], from DIICOT [Directorate for Organised Crime and Terror Investigation], from the civil society in general. I will send the bill amending justice legislation after everyone, the entire society, all the professional organisations have spoken. Secondly, after points of view, opinions, and criticisms are expressed of all the issues that I mentioned on Wednesday. Why am I doing this? First of all because the justice legislation are laws that in one way or another interest us and target us one way or another, ” Toader told a news conference on Friday.
Toader added that he is not on vacation and that on Thursday he visited courthouses and penitentiaries in the country, but he will see “who have expressed what viewpoints.”
“I am inviting opinions on all the problems I have raised. Let the authorities of the judiciary, mainly, and the civil society, in general, state on each of the issues mentioned,” Toader said.
The minister added that he saw public opinion positions “focused” on two-three issues, but did not see positions on all the problems in the bill.
Toader responded to criticisms leveled by magistrates’ professional associations, arguing that the bill was not a “judicial experimentation.”
“We do not do legal experiments. In a state governed by the rule of law, we do not do people experimentation to see whether it is good or not. The bills have come and gone from CSM to the Ministry of Justice, now entering a third stage. Regarding the organisation and functioning of CSM, we have taken over most of the proposals from CSM regarding the Law No. 317. That is one of the three laws and no one can say they did not see them. The three laws left CSM. They came to the Justice Ministry, went back to CSM came to the ministry and were sent them back to the CSM. It is true that as the justice minister I could very easily have the proposals for modification that I formulated imbedded in the bill, to send them to CSM, and you, the society, would have not even known that and you would have learned their contents as a fact accomplished. That would be the technique and the rule. You could see that each time: there is a bill, approval, amendments; you out it on track for Government and Parliament. In this instance, I have preferred – given the fundamental importance of justice – a formula which, even at the expense of running an extra time, should introduce an additional procedure. That is, I preferred to bring the proposals I have made – 30-40 of them – before you, to present them to you and to put them up for public debate,” added Tudose.
He said that, after seeing all the points of view, he would send the bill to CSM, but not to DNA, DIICOT or the Public Prosecution Service.
“CSM’s opinion is advisory in nature. CSM represents both judges and prosecutors. I do not send the bill to DNA, the Public Prosecution Service or DIICOT. Probably their claim about not knowing some things had to do with the specific issues unveiled by me Wednesday. They know them from public debate, and they will also know them when I send the bill to them; remember yours is advisory opinion and here we are talking about a proposal amending a package of legislation that I will take before the Government. The Government can say delete a paragraph, after which the bill goes to Parliament and on track for being made into a law, where again, there will be many changes. The Justice Ministry does not decide, but it makes proposals; the Government does not decide, the Government approves, Parliament decides,” Toader said.
The minister denied having been urgently called at the Government House, arguing that he had been invited to a “discussion”.
“I had proposed Judiciary Inspection be autonomous, not under CSM, nor under MJ”
Toader on Friday also stated that he proposed the Judiciary Inspection “not be placed under any umbrella,” that is neither under the subordination of the Supreme Council of Magistrates (CSM), nor under that of the Ministry of Justice, but nobody said if it was good or bad.
“Our legal system is like the French one. In France too, the Judiciary Inspection is subordinated to the Ministry of Justice, and the same in Italy, and in other countries. I assure you that the autonomy of the Judiciary Inspection shall be consolidated, regardless whether it will be placed under the Ministry of Justice or remain attached to the Supreme Council of Magistrates. Regardless of where it is, consolidation will follow the same steps. Judiciary Inspection raised publicly the issue of subordination to the same entities it is set to control. For here is the problem. CSM makes its regulation and then the Judiciary Inspection checks up on judges and prosecutors. On Wednesday, we were advancing another proposal, another formula, and I saw that nobody said whether it was good or bad for the Judiciary Inspection to be placed under no umbrella, neither under that of the CSM, nor of the MJ, and to be an autonomous entity, as a control body, which controls, it should remain autonomous, with the same competencies, with its own budget, headquarters, own employees and being accountable for what it does,” said Toader.
The statement came after the professional associations of magistrates and representatives of the civil society have criticized the proposal announced on Wednesday by Tudorel Toader regarding the placing of the Judiciary Inspection under the subordination of the Ministry of Justice.
Liberal leader Orban: JusMin sent scouting, testing the waters
Chairman of the National Liberal Party (PNL) Ludovic Orban on Friday told a press conference in Scornicesti that he expects the legislative proposals for the amendment of the Justice package to contain hidden elements and that, in his opinion, Justice Minister Tudorel Toader “has been sent scouting to test the waters.”
Orban reaffirmed PNL’s determination “to resort to all legal and constitutional levers”, manifestations included, against the amendments proposed by the JusMin. Asked if he will participate in the protest announced for Sunday in Bucharest, Orban said that the bill has not been readied yet and he will anyway not be in Bucharest.
“We have publicly announced that we will take all the legal and constitutional steps, and that we are also prepared to manifest against these changes. … I won’t be in Bucharest, but we will participate; however, the bill has not yet been released. Tudorel Toader was sent scouting to test the market, dip the finger in the water to test it, and they will then reposition accordingly. But I’m afraid of what lies ahead, because I repeat, we do not have the bill yet. I am waiting for it to see what other things are hidden in the text,” Orban said.
Ludovic Orban underscored that the PNL supports the autonomous organization of the judiciary and the independence of justice.
“The proposals put forward by the Minister of Justice, specifically that the Minister of Justice should be the one to decide who heads the prosecution offices, shows clearly that by removing the President from the appointment equation they want to appoint obedient prosecutors who are ready to answer to orders and to represent their political interests. (…) The second, highly dangerous amendment, is the switch of the Judicial Inspection under the authority of the Ministry of Justice. And then there’s the third element – Minister Toader said that he wants to allow the prosecutors’ line managers to reverse all the decisions of the case prosecutors not only for reasons of legality, but also on the merits,” Orban said, referring to the recently announced proposals to amend the Justice package which are being challenged by the Liberals.