“A simple decision of CCR [Constitutional Court of Romania – ed.n.] has drawn out of Romanians’ pockets 188 million euro. Do we really want that such damages occur in the future and no one investigates them, because we amend the abuse of office? This is one question society should answer,” Laura-Codruta Kovesi, Chief Prosecutor of the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) asked on Tuesday evening during a debate on Justice laws, organised by the Group for Social Dialogue and “22” magazine.
The Chief Prosecutor reminded that both her colleagues and herself have felt for over a year and a half to be “under siege” as regards DNA’s activity.
“I believe we are all aware of the gravity of the situation we are in. At least, we, as institution, both I and my colleagues, as well as institutionally, we react through the means and possibilities we have at hand. (…) We have all been feeling, for at least over a year and a half, that we are actually under siege, materialised in harassment, intimidations, attempt to intimidate, that they do not achieve their targets, through criticism that is sometimes objective, but most of the times not, through that fake news phenomenon and to which we can only react institutionally,” Kovesi said.
Kovesi showed that the only thing DNA can do as institution is to make public statements and explain the effects of the law amendments.
“What can we do, institutionally? We cannot pass laws, but we can express points of view. We can analyse drafts, we can identify vulnerabilities, identify risks and explain, technically and less technically, what the consequences are. (…) We can set off alarm bells and speak up if the Romanian state wants DNA to investigate only petty deeds and adopt laws in this respect, yes… If the Romanian state wishes that ministers, secretaries of state and people who have political positions can no longer be prosecuted because the Justice minister will be their party colleague and will send the Inspection after the prosecutor, yes, we can speak up these things, but this as far as we can go,” Kovesi said.
“Justice laws modification will seriously damage prosecutors’ independence and not only”
“There is an attempt to increasing Justice minister’s authority over prosecutors’ activity, which will seriously damage their independence”, on Tuesday evening said the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA)’s head, Laura-Codruta Kovesi.
The DNA chief prosecutor Kovesi added, at a debate organised by the Social Dialogue Group (GDS) and the “22” Magazine on the Justice laws, that she has said that ever since the draft law of 23 August, enumerating three aspects of the two bills that will lead to “seriously damaging” the prosecutors’ independence: the subordination of the Judicial Inspection to the Justice minister, the alteration of the conditions regarding the magistrates’ material liability and the establishment of the special Directorate for the investigation of the magistrates.
She said that as no special investigation department exists to investigate the crimes of the police staff or the mayors, there is no need of a special directorate to investigate the crimes of the magistrates.
“It was falsely said that the DNA is against this amendment because it would lose its competence. Let’s do the math: In 12 years there were definitively sentenced 88 magistrates, 44 prosecutors, 43 justices and one assistant magistrate. If for 88 people sentenced in 12 years we need to establish a special department…In the same period we have 575 police officers sentenced, 121 customs workers, 106 commune, town and city mayors. What are we supposed to do if we have 10 times more police staff sentenced? Shall we establish a department to investigate the police staff, a department to investigate the mayors, and another to investigate the customs workers?!”, asked Kovesi.
She added that a grounding note, an impact study lack which would offer the motivation for such modifications to be included in these draft laws.
As for the Criminal Code’s amendments, the DNA head remarked that the main modification would focus on the abuse of office.
The DNA chief prosecutor added that “never again existed a special committee for the Justice laws.”
“Nobody is denying the right of the Parliament, and it is the Parliament’s right to initiate laws, nobody denied the right of the Parliament to alter laws, to initiate draft laws, to establish certain committees, but here we find a special committee. Never before did a special committee for the laws of Justice exist, the organic laws were always discussed in the lawyer committees and then in the plenary sittings of the two Chambers. Now we find that there is a special procedure in the Parliament, an emergency procedure, a reason for which the opinion of the Superior Council of Magistrates (CSM) was required in an urgency system (…) What all of the magistrates did question was the way the amendment is attempted to be achieved, the total lack of transparence and consultation,” Kovesi stressed.