JUSTICE POLITICS

Committee on Justice package: Indicted judges, prosecutors, no longer necessarily suspended from office

A judge or prosecutor who was sent to court for a particular offence can be suspended from office if, in the particular circumstances of the case, the deed is found to affect the prestige of the profession, the parliamentary expert Committee on the Justice package ruled on Monday.

If it is deemed that the judge or prosecutor can be kept in office, the respective legal professional may be temporarily banned from performing certain duties until the final settlement of the case. The provisions apply accordingly also if the precautionary measure of court supervision or bail supervision has been ordered against a judge or prosecutor and the judicial body has determined that he/she should be banned from practicing the profession the exertion of which was related to the offence, provides the amendment passed by the MPs, a proposal by the Supreme Council of Magistrates (CSM) – ALDE and USR.

The lawmakers thus amended article 62 of Law 303/2004, so that the suspension of magistrates will now be possible depending on the decision of the CSM.

So far the indicted judges and prosecutors were necessarily suspended once the prosecution was initiated.

At the end of the committee meeting, the body’s chairman, Social Democrat deputy Florin Iordache, explained that the MPs had adopted the views and arguments of the CSM and of the professional associations and that the adopted amendment is a regulation.

“All these amendments come from professional associations,” Iordache said.

The special parliamentary committee on judicial laws resumed on Monday its debates on the bill amending the law on the statute of judges and prosecutors, after last week it adopted several articles, including the one stipulating that the President will no longer be able to refuse the nominations for the offices of High Court of Justice (ICCJ) President and Vice Presidents, being thus forced to accept the Supreme Magistracy Council’s (CSM) nominations.

 

 

Prosecutor General’s Office on some amendments adopted by special committee on judicial laws: The premises of eliminating the independence of the prosecutor are taking shape

 

The Prosecutor General’s Office claims that some of the amendments that the special parliamentary committee on judicial laws adopted last Friday outline “the premises of eliminating the independence of the prosecutor” and that the new provisions “represent a clear departure from the constitutional text.”

On Saturday, the Prosecutor General’s Office issued a point of view regarding some of the amendments adopted by the special parliamentary committee on judicial laws, stating that, in their current form, “the premises of eliminating the independence of the prosecutor are being outlined.”

“The Public Ministry draws attention to the fact that, yesterday, 24 November 2017, the special parliamentary committee on judicial laws voted to modify some articles of law in a form through which, obviously, the premises of eliminating the independence of the prosecutor – as a first stage in annulling his status as magistrate – are being outlined, with negative consequences on the quality of the act of justice,” the document reads.

According to prosecutors, Article 3 of Law no.303/2004 on the status of judges and prosecutors “consecrates the independence and stability of prosecutors, attributes that are no longer found in the form amended and adopted by the special parliamentary committee on judicial laws.”

“The amendment thus brought also represents a clear departure from the constitutional text, which places prosecutors within the framework of the judicial authority,” the Prosecutor General’s Office points out.

At the same time, the representatives of the Public Ministry express their concern about “the anachronistic tendency expressed by the special parliamentary committee on judicial laws in what concerns the vision on the prosecutor and the criminal justice system.”

The prosecutors mention the Rome Charter (2014), a document that stipulates that “the independence and autonomy of the Public Ministry represents an indispensable corollary for the independence of the judicial system.”

“Prosecutors should be autonomous in taking decisions and should fulfil their tasks aloof from any interferences and external pressures, in line with the separation of powers and responsibilities,” reads the document released by the Public Ministry.

 

U.S. Ambassador on amendments to judicial laws: We are watching very carefully what is happening in Parliament; we have very serious concerns regarding the JusMin’s original proposals

 

U.S. Ambassador Hans Klemm stated on Monday that he is watching very carefully Parliament’s debates on the judicial laws, having “very serious concerns with the initial proposal made by the Minister of Justice.”

U.S. Ambassador Hans Klemm stated, in an interview for ‘Expres de Banat’ daily, that he watches very carefully the evolution of the package of judicial laws in Parliament.

“In what concerns the judicial package that was first assembled by the Minister of Justice and now is being taken up by Parliament, we are watching very carefully to see how Parliament modifies it, what comes out of the discussion that’s taking place in the judicial committee. As you mentioned, we have very serious concerns with, at least with the initial proposal made by the Minister of Justice. The reason behind our concern is that, in our view, in the past 15 or so years, Romania has mounted an increasingly credible fight against high- and mid-level corruption. It has created judicial independence, has created special units to focus on discovering crimes of public corruption, I’m talking in particular about the DNA, and when we look at the region, in our estimation, Romania is doing the most credible fight against corruption. Much more can be done, particularly in prevention and education, but in terms of prosecuting those who are stealing from the state, Romania has a record that’s unparalleled in this part of the world,” the U.S. ambassador said.

Hans Klemm said that there were concerns because the amendments proposed by the Justice Minister were showing that a rolling back of the fight against corruption might take place.

“That certainly was our concern with the Justice Minister’s original package, that it would represent a rolling back of judicial independence and also of the strength of the prosecutorial effort against corruption. Now we are watching very, very carefully what took place in Parliament last week and what will continue this week, to see what emerges out of the committee that will be considered by the full plenary. We’re watching very carefully,” Klemm said.

 

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Hot debates in the specialized parliamentary committee for amending the justice bills

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