Justice Minister Tudorel Toader stated on Thursday, after the CSM issued a negative report on the bill amending the judiciary laws, a bill assumed by Parliament, that the CSM debate was a debate with a known result, in which doublespeak was partially used.
“I wouldn’t necessarily call it tense but, in my view, it was a debate with a known result. Personally, I was convinced that the result would be the same. A debate in which doublespeak was partially used and in which someone, I won’t name names, feigned not knowing or not understanding a certain thing. The debate took place against the backdrop in which a lady judge, member of the CSM, was saying that the vote on the previous report changed overnight – from unanimously favourable it became negative. A debate in which judge Garbovan was talking about messages received by the courts from the CSM, in the sense of rejection as a whole, a debate in which someone made statements about the side scenes of some decisions, of some moves,” Tudorel Toader said.
The Justice Minister emphasised that the CSM report is non-binding, but expressed his hope, “even conviction,” that the members of the special committee will take into account some of the arguments included in this negative report.
Referring to the CSM report, Tudorel Toader added: “There is the need for change, but nothing should be changed. In the name of the independence of the judiciary, nobody ever said why a prosecutor should no longer directly become judge at the Supreme [Court], why a retiree should be re-hired, why one should enjoy life-time home ownership, why one should rise to the top of the hierarchy after just a few years, and all the rest. Here lies the essence of the problem.”
“You can’t issue a negative report, you can’t oppose the amending of the law so as to set it in line with Constitutional Court decisions. You can’t issue a negative report to reject the proposals included in the bill, proposals that the CSM itself had filed during the prior period of consultation. The initiative to amend the laws came from the CSM itself, at first in 2015, then in 2016,” the Justice Minister pointed out.
Asked what is his answer for those who claim that the judiciary may end up under political control if these judiciary laws are adopted, Toader responded: “Every time, I asked those who criticised to move beyond the stage of saying ‘I don’t like it, I don’t want to, I disagree,’ to move beyond the stage of saying ‘this solution is not good, it violates the independence of the judiciary,’ and to come up with arguments, with counter-arguments, possibly with an even better proposal than what they found in the bill.”
In what concerns the definition of abuse of office, the Justice Minister said: “It must be defined in line with the CCR [Constitutional Court of Romania] decision, in line with the European directive, in line with the history, traditions of criminal prosecution praxis in Romania. I even talked with the First Vice President of the EC about abuse of office, we will receive a point of view from them too, but as long as it has not been finalised at the MJ [Justice Ministry], I’m not going to tell you the content of [Article] 297 here, before the cameras.”
Asked what bill is better, his or Iordache’s, Tudorel Toader said: “Any bill is improvable, even a law is improvable, just as the Constitution itself has certain elements that must be modified, amended, in a potential amending.”