JUSTICE POLITICS

Justice Ministry informs Parliament it is working on amending Penal Code on abuse of office and neglect of duty

Justice Ministry Secretary of State Mariana Mot has informed the special parliamentary committee tasked with setting the Criminal Codes in line with Constitutional Court (CCR) decisions that the ministry is working on a separate bill on abuse of office and neglect of duty.

“The Justice Ministry intends that these two offences should form the object of a separate legislative act. That is why the Justice Ministry hasn’t expressed a point of view,” Justice Ministry Secretary of State Mariana Mot stated.

The statement was made during the debates of the special parliamentary committee tasked with setting the Criminal Codes in line with CCR decisions, when the article on abuse of office came up for discussion.

The Criminal Code’s stipulation on abuse of office is about to be modified after the Constitutional Court issued two rulings which aim on the one hand for abuse of office to be considered a criminal offence only if laws or Government ordinances are violated and, on the other hand, for the lawmaker to set a threshold for the damage caused by abuse of office, claiming that it is not sufficient to note that the incriminated guilty acts injured the protected social values but that this injury should have a certain degree of intensity, of gravity that would justify the penal punishment.

Starting off from the two CCR rulings, political parties and judiciary institutions have proposed various rewritings of the article on abuse of office.

Thus, the Prosecutor General’s Office has proposed that abuse of office should be defined as the violation of a law or legislative act that had the power of law on the date of its adoption, without proposing any threshold beyond which abuse of office should be considered a criminal offence. Likewise, the Prosecutor General’s Office proposed that the current punishment for abuse of office – 2 to 7 years in prison and the suspension of the right to hold public office – should be maintained.

In its turn, the National Union of Romanian Judges (UNJR) has proposed that abuse of office should be defined as “the offence committed by the civil servant who, while exercising his/her duty, fails to perform a duty, or performs it deficiently, and by doing so causes damage to a natural or legal person equivalent to at least 10 minimum salaries, or injures the rights or legitimate interests of a natural or legal person, injury that has or may have grave or particularly grave consequences of a non-patrimonial nature.” UNJR proposes that the current punishment for abuse of office, namely 2 to 7 years in prison and the suspension of the right to hold public office, should be maintained.

On the other hand, the Association of Romanian Prosecutors (APR) has not come up with a concrete proposal. “We deem that the amending of the law in line with the provisions of the two Constitutional Court rulings can be done after a preliminary study of the internal casuistry, as well as a comparative study on the way such situations are regulated in the other European Union states, a necessary overture in order to set the provisions of Article 297 of the Criminal Code in line with the documents of international bodies and also with criminal law in this field on the territory of the European Union,” the APR informs.

Some political parties have also presented their own variants on abuse of office.

UDMR has proposed a material damage threshold of RON 100,000 and a more lenient prison sentence of 6 months to 3 years.

“The offence committed by the civil servant who, while exercising his/her duty, intentionally fails to perform a duty stipulated by the explicit provisions of a law, or performs it by breaking some explicit provisions of a law, and by doing so causes a material damage in excess of RON 100,000, or the grave, clear and actual injury to the rights or legitimate interests of a natural or legal person, is punishable by 6 months to 3 years in prison or a fine,” reads the proposal that UDMR has sent to the parliamentary committee.

In their turn, USR proposes a variant that does not include a material damage threshold and that maintains the punishment unchanged.

“The offence committed by the civil servant who, while exercising his/her duty, fails to perform a duty, or performs it by breaking a law, a Government ordinance or a Government emergency ordinance, and by doing so damages or injures the rights or legitimate interests of a natural or legal person, is punishable by 2 to 7 years in prison and the suspension of the right to hold public office,” reads the proposal. USR also came up with a subsidiary variant in which it proposes a material damage threshold of RON 1,000.

Traian Basescu’s PMP also militates for the non-introduction of a material damage threshold for abuse of office.

“The offence committed by a civil servant who, while exercising his/her duty, fails, with intent, to perform a duty stipulated by the explicit provisions of a law, Government ordinance or Government emergency ordinance, or performs it by breaking the explicit provisions of a law, Government ordinance or Government emergency ordinance, and by doing so causes actual injury to the fundamental rights or legitimate interests of a natural or legal person, is punishable by 2 to 7 years in prison and the suspension of the right to hold public office,” reads the PMP’s proposal.

In their turn, the Liberals did not send written proposals regarding abuse of office, but PNL’s representatives within the special parliamentary committee stated that their party does not back the introduction of a material damage threshold for abuse of office.

 

 

 

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