Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar said Tuesday that prosecutors have not accepted the proposals to amend the justice legislation package unveiled by Justice Minister Tudorel Toader because they affect the independence of the judiciary.
“As a conclusion to the debates that have taken place in the general assemblies of prosecutors and the debates that have taken place in the Prosecutor General’s Council, we can say that we have a coherent message in that prosecutors have not accepted the legal proposals that were unveiled by the Ministry of Justice, and they did so because they affect the independence of the judiciary. Adopting these proposals would affect the independence of the judiciary and the operation of the judiciary. The saddest thing is that they would affect Romania’s European commitments. My colleagues sincerely hope that this was only a test of the marketplace of ideas in Romania, and these ideas will not be put into practice,” Lazar said at a news conference after a meeting of the Prosecutor General’s Council.
Lazar pointed out that the synthesis of the debates attended by 2,500 prosecutors from around the country will be presented to the minister of justice as soon as possible.
He argued that Toader’s legislative changes are rather “ideas” or “offerings,” and prosecutors have to take an attitude.
“There are some ideas, principles – I do not know how to call them – offerings, which, if put into practice, would be bad for the Romanian justice so many years after Romania’s accession to the European Union. According to our colleagues, even if we did not have a draft piece of legislation at hand, we had to take a stand, because it is a challenge to the independence of the prosecutors. (…) I have a 35-year career as a magistrate, and this has never happened to me. But we should observe what is happening around us and not be indifferent. But even if there are some ideas, we have to provide answers for the marketplace of ideas to test the offerings,” said Lazar.
U.S. Embassy in Bucharest : We take note of the Justice Ministry’s proposals with concern for the independence of the justice sector
“The United States-Romania Strategic Partnership is rooted in a commitment to democratic values, good governance and strengthening the rule of law as these are the foundation for increasing our shared security and prosperity,” a statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest on Tuesday informs .
“Firmly establishing rule of law requires a strong and independent judiciary, as well as independent prosecutors who can pursue criminal conduct without political interference or limitations on the lawful administration of justice,” the statement adds.
The document states that the United States takes note of the Justice Ministry’s August 23 proposals with concern for the independence of the justice sector. “We urge all executive, legislative, and judicial stakeholders in Romania to work together to maintain the country’s fight against corruption and to ensure the credibility of its institutions,” the quoted statement also maintains.