The governing coalition decided on Wednesday that the draft amending the Justice laws be promoted through parliamentary initiative.
“In connection with the Justice laws, Mr. Justice Minister Tudorel Toader will come with the reform package to the Judicial committee, will present it, bolster it, the coalition being due to promote the draft of the reform law package and start the debates as parliamentary initiative,” Senate Chairman Calin Popescu-Tariceanu stated on Wednesday after the governing coalition meeting.
He added that there is no intention “to stretch things” in this case.
“Mr Minister, if he is ready, can be invited tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, so we do not intend to stretch things, on the contrary,” Tariceanu added.
Justice Minister Tudorel Toader announced on Wednesday that he completed the draft amending the Justice laws.
Tudorel Toader: Bill amending judiciary laws is finalised. We’ll take part in all debates
The bill amending the judiciary laws is finalised, Justice Minister Tudorel Toader announced on Wednesday morning, pointing out that meeting the requirements included in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) pilot decision on detention conditions is a priority.
“The bill amending the judiciary laws is now ready – we are going to participate in all the debates! Our top priority becomes the Roadmap for meeting all the requirements included in the pilot decision pronounced by the ECHR referring to detention conditions. Penitentiary commissions are ready to implement the provisions of Law No. 169 of July 14, 2017, amending and supplementing Law No. 254/2013 on the serving of prison sentences ruled by courts in criminal trials, published in the Official Journal of Romania, Part I, no. 571 of July 18, 2017. Provisions of article 55^1 regulate ‘Compensations for improper detention conditions,’” the Minister wrote on his Facebook page.
“I will meet First Vice-President Timmermans on 26 October to discuss bill amending judiciary laws”
Justice Minister Tudorel Toader on Wednesday announced that on October 26 he will meet First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans to discuss the solutions included in the bill amending the judiciary laws, adding that he requested the opinion of the Venice Commission in respect to the appointment procedure for chief prosecutors.
“The Ministry of Justice drafted and completed the bill amending the judiciary laws. I also asked for the opinion of the Venice Commission in respect to the appointment procedure for chief prosecutors. As a novelty, on October 26, I have a meeting scheduled with the First Vice-President of the European Commission, Timmermans, to discuss “in detail” the solutions proposed through this bill,” Toader said in Parliament.
The ruling coalition is still to decide the way the bill is going to be promoted, he added.
He underscored that he does not decide the next steps or share his opinion on the matter either.
“The best version will be that, in the end, we will have a law as good as possible, starting from the bill that we drafted and with the modifications that will follow as the result of the debate. I won’t decide the next steps and I won’t give my opinion on this matter. The Ministry finalised the bill, I formulated the request for the Venice Commission’s opinion, and I set up the meeting with First Vice- President Timmermans, on October 26. We will do as will be decided. I didn’t speak with the Prime Minister. (…) I won’t give you my opinion, as the Minister of Justice I finalised this bill, but the decision-making factors will be the ones to decide,” said Tudorel Toader.
“Law on compensation appeal for improper detention conditions comes into force on Thursday”
Justice Minister Tudorel Toader announced that the law on compensation appeal, which stipulates that for every 30 days spent in improper detention conditions each convict will have six days shaved off their prison sentence, will come into force on Thursday. The first convicts to benefit from the new legislative act will be released from prison starting on Thursday.
“Law no.169/2017 on compensation appeal will come into force tomorrow. For every 30 days served in improper detention conditions, the convict benefits from six days considered served. (…) The penitentiary commissions are ready, they’ve carried out all calculations to see which convicts benefit directly from release, and convicts will released tomorrow (Thursday – editor’s note), after which, also following the coming into force of the law, very many convicts will obtain the benefit to file for release on parole,” Tudorel Toader stated in Parliament.
Bill amending judiciary laws, on the agenda of PSD-ALDE ruling coalition meeting
The bill amending the judiciary laws was one of the topics discussed on Wednesday at the meeting of the PSD-ALDE Coalition. The ruling coalition decided last Friday that the judiciary laws should be amended via a bill on which PSD-ALDE MPs should take responsibility, instead of waiting for the Government to take responsibility for the bill and only then send it to the Legislative for debate.
The Supreme Magistracy Council (CSM) issued a negative report on the bill amending the judiciary laws, arguing that it “disregards,” in their essential aspects, the fundamental guarantees concerning the functioning of the judiciary and it contravenes constitutional rulings.
The amendments to the judiciary laws were criticised by the associations of magistrates and by President Klaus Iohannis, and the U.S. embassy expressed its concerns about some of the provisions.
The Head of State said that he is profoundly worried because the bill proposes that the President should be removed from the procedure for the appointment of chief prosecutors, stating that this is a “fundamental mistake.” The President added that placing the Judicial Inspection under the authority of the Justice Ministry puts political pressure on the Inspection.
On Tuesday, PSD President Liviu Dragnea stated that Premier Mihai Tudose never said he is not assuming responsibility for the judiciary laws, but via parliamentary bill they can be adopted during the current sitting.
“The Premier said yesterday that today he will ask the Justice Minister to say what would be the mandatory period for them to go through a governmental procedure, to see whether we still have chances to pass them during this parliamentary sitting. Our announced political decision was to adopt them during this parliamentary sitting,” Liviu Dragnea stated.
“My opinion – it’s a unanimous opinion – [is that] there should be a parliamentary bill,” the PSD leader underscored.
Dragnea pointed out that Justice Minister Tudorel Toader can put at the disposal of the special committee that will discuss this bill the facts he currently has on this topic. “I believe he will also take part in all committee meetings, in an active manner, because it was his initiative,” he added.
Asked whether he maintains his opinion regarding the procedure used to appoint the chief prosecutors, the PSD President said: “I’ll suggest to the colleagues from the special committee that they should leave that provision aside and possibly ask for the Venice Commission’s punctual opinion on it. I still claim that the three actors – the minister, the CSM and the Romanian President – should remain part of that procedure.”
“In what concerns the Judicial Inspection, I strongly believe, especially following the latest events, that this institution must be an autonomous institution. If they aren’t able to find the best form now, within the special committee, maybe they’ll discuss a special law that we’ll adopt in the following months. The objective is for the JI to be an autonomous institution,” Liviu Dragnea added.
Asked why the Premier did not want to assume responsibility for the judiciary laws, the PSD President answered: “The Premier never said he isn’t, but this possibility was first discussed at Sucevita, within the ExCom.”
Tariceanu: Judiciary laws, ALDE’s most important political and parliamentary objective in current session
Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu announced on Tuesday that for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE), the judiciary laws are this session’s most important political objective, specifying that if Justice Minister Tudorel Toader presents a timetable that exceeds the end of the year the bill will then be assumed by the ruling coalition.
“For us, for ALDE, for me, as Speaker of the Senate, in this parliamentary session, the most important political and parliamentary objective is to pass this bill through Parliament. It’s most likely that tomorrow we will have a discussion which Justice Minister Tudorel Toader will also be invited to attend. We are going to ask him to introduce the timetable corresponding to the promotion procedures of the bill regarding the judiciary laws, obviously, through the Government. In case this timetable is too long, and extends beyond the end of the year, then the judiciary reform bill will most likely be assumed by the ruling coalition and lodged with Parliament, so that we can proceed faster, taking into account that the MJ [Justice Ministry -ed.n.] has already completed the public consultations part, with the professional associations of magistrates, the civil society, so then, obviously, by putting together all the proposals that have come with regard to the amending of the Justice laws, on behalf of the CSM [Supreme Court of Magistrates] included, our work will be thus easier and more efficient,” Tariceanu said in the Senate.
He added that he maintains his opinion that the political factor represented by the Head of State must be ousted from the procedure to appoint chief prosecutors, and also that the Judicial Inspection must be taken away from CSM.
“If we were to make an inventory of the main issues under debate: point number one – who will appoint prosecutors in the future – I have argued that the appointment of prosecutors must be depoliticized, that is why we proposed that CSM be the one to do it, avoiding the political factor that is the President at the moment. The second important element is the institutional and organisational place of the Judicial Inspection. We have seen what has happened recently and I believe that all the scandals within the CSM and the Judicial Inspection reinforce my conviction that the Judicial Inspection must be taken away from CSM, because CSM cannot be simultaneously a referee and a player and we will have to find a fair solution that grants the Judicial Inspection the independence it absolutely needs,” Tariceanu maintained.