On Wednesday, during the Supreme Magistracy Council’s (CSM) plenary meeting, judge Gabriela Baltag demanded that the presence of the DNA Chief Prosecutor and of other magistrates at the debates organised by the Group for Social Dialogue (GDS), where aspects of political character were discussed, be verified to see if it is in line with the obligations of their statute.
“I saw a meeting at a group of social dialogue. I saw that magistrates took part in it too. I confess, I saw the final part. I would like to bring up for discussion the Judicial Inspection carrying out verifications regarding what I was able to see. I understand that many magistrates have seen it, they asked me how can we tolerate this aspect, the presence of DNA Chief Prosecutor Kovesi and of other magistrates from what I understand. I can’t say exactly because I don’t know if they were there or not. The Judicial Inspection should verify the presence and participation in discussions of a political nature, because discussing aspects related to protests and taking to the streets, uniting the forces of the Opposition, censorship… I don’t know to what extent they observe or not the obligations and rigours of the statute of magistrate,” Gabriela Baltag stated at the plenary meeting of the Supreme Magistracy Council.
DNA’s Kovesi: Simple CCR decision draws out of Romanian citizens’ pockets 188 mil euro. “Judicial laws modification will seriously damage prosecutors’ independence and not only that”
“A simple decision of the CCR [Constitutional Court of Romania – ed.n.] has drawn out of Romanians’ pockets 188 million euro. Do we really want such damages occurring in the future and no one investigating 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 the judicial laws, organised by the Group for Social Dialogue and ‘Revista 22’ weekly magazine.
The Chief Prosecutor reminded that both her colleagues and herself have felt, for over a year and a half, “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 the 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 the 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 could 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.
“Judicial laws modification will seriously damage prosecutors’ independence and not only that”
“There is an attempt to increase the 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 on the judicial laws organised by the Social Dialogue Group (GDS) and the ‘Revista 22’ weekly magazine, that she has been saying that ever since the draft law of 23 August, enumerating three aspects of the two bills that will “seriously damage” 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 and an impact study which would offer the motivation for such modifications to be included in these draft laws are lacking.
As for the amendments to the Criminal Code, the DNA Chief Prosecutor remarked that the main modification would focus on abuse of office.
The DNA Chief Prosecutor added that “a special committee on the judicial laws existed never before.”
“Nobody is denying the right of Parliament, and it is the Parliament’s right to initiate laws, nobody denied the right of 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 on judicial laws 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 Parliament, an emergency procedure, a reason for which the opinion of the Superior Council of Magistrates (CSM) was required in an urgent procedure (…) What all magistrates did question was the way the amending is attempted to be achieved, the total lack of transparency and consultation,” Kovesi stressed.