Justice Minister Tudorel Toader says it is not up to him but up to political analysts to “decrypt” the meaning of the street protests that took place on Sunday evening in Bucharest and several other cities. Asked about his potential resignation, demanded by the protesters, he stated that if he takes a decision he would announce it.
Asked on Monday, at the Palace of Parliament, for his opinion on the street protests that took place on Sunday evening, the Justice Minister said he is not in the position to evaluate and decipher their meaning.
“I’m not the one best placed to assess the protests. Rather you, rather political analysts can decrypt the meaning of those protests,” Tudorel Toader stated.
When journalists pointed out that one of the protesters’ demands was for him to resign from the office of Justice Minister, Tudorel Toader said that if he takes such a decision he would announce it.
“The question is in the same line. I’m not best placed to give meaning to these protests. Obviously, when I, personally, take a decision, I will inform you. Obviously, when decision-makers take a decision, they will inform you,” the Justice Minister said.
Likewise, he refused to give a concrete answer to the journalists’ repeated questions regarding the amendment adopted by the special parliamentary committee on judicial laws, which stipulates that the President would no longer be able to refuse the nominations made for the offices of High Court of Cassation and Justice President and Vice Presidents, being forced to accept CSM’s nominations.
“The MJ [Justice Ministry] has a secretary of state taking part in these debates within the committee, consequently I’m not the one making the assessments. (…) Let’s see the final form of the bill and then I’ll give you a point of view,” Tudorel Toader added.
Iordache: All those protesting should see we’re trying to improve some laws
Florin Iordache, chairman of the special parliamentary committee on judicial laws, stated on Monday that all those protesting should see that the committee members, along with the professional associations, are trying to improve some laws.
“As long as the political factor does not intervene except by taking over all the amendments coming from the professional associations, I believe it’s the best way,” Iordache stated.
Asked what message he has for the protesters, he said: “In my view, all those who are protesting should see we are trying – with the support of the professional associations, and of the CSM – to improve some laws. We’ve all noted that the judicial laws adopted in 2004, amended in 2005, are laws that should be modified now, because, on one hand, they do not contain the CCR rulings on very many articles and, secondly, there is – we are talking about Law no.303 – a unanimous decision which seeks to separate careers. The moment we’re talking about a separation of careers, we must clearly take into account the judges’ and prosecutors’ options. Then, a very important issue, we are talking about the accountability of magistrates.”
The chairman of the special committee added: “If we don’t do these things through transparent debate, taking into account all the observations coming from professional associations, and if we don’t do it in Parliament, then where?”
PNL to summon Carmen Dan in Parliament, following Gendarmerie’s actions at Sunday’s protest
PNL will summon Interior Minister Carmen Dan in Parliament, as a result of the Gendarmerie’s actions during Sunday’s protest in Bucharest.
“We took the decision to summon the Interior Minister, because of the grave dangers that the Interior Ministry created in what regards the protesters,” PNL President Ludovic Orban stated.
The Gendarmerie claims its use of mounted gendarmes during Sunday’s protests in Bucharest was meant “to direct the mass of protesters on a single lane,” in order to keep a safety lane open in case the rapid intervention of ambulances or fire engines was required. The Gendarmerie also claims that when protesters occupied both lanes it was decided that mounted teams “would form an intervention reserve,” the horses not being pulled back “as speculated.”
During Sunday evening’s protests in Bucharest – in which more than 20,000 people took part – the Gendarmerie deployed unprecedented numbers of gendarmes, not previously seen at the protests this year, and, likewise, used a unit of mounted gendarmes. Mounted gendarmes blocked protesters when they wanted to march through the Lascar Catargiu Boulevard, the latter engaging in scuffles with the gendarmes and shouting “shame, shame, you should be ashamed.”
On Monday, the Romanian Gendarmerie came out with explanations “since debates on the advisability and legality of using mounted gendarmes have appeared in the public space.”
Thus, the Gendarmerie says that, in line with Article 29 of Law no.550/2004 regulating the structure and activity of the institution, gendarmes can use police animals in missions, and the purpose of the horses used on Sunday evening was “to direct the mass of protesters on a single lane.”
“The presence of the horses was meant to direct the mass of protesters on a single lane, in order to keep one safety lane open for cases requiring the rapid intervention of the ambulance service, of fire engines and of other emergency public services. At one point, the mass of protesters spread across both lanes, the decision taken at that point being that the mounted teams that were part of the public order unit should form an intervention reserve (not being withdrawn from the mission as speculated),” the Romanian Gendarmerie representatives claim.
They also state that the horses never endangered the protesters, being trained for extreme conditions of physical and mental endurance and accustomed to intense noises, the presence of people or incendiary substances.
Moreover, the Gendarmerie claims that the decision to use the mounted unit was not singular, the unit having been used throughout 2017 in 110 public order missions, at public rallies, sport events or cultural-artistic events – concerts with large crowds, and no incidents were registered during these missions.
After USR, PNL also files constitutional challenge against Iordache Cttee
The National Liberal Party (PNL) will lodge with the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) a notification concerning the Parliament’s decision to set up the special committee on judicial laws, PNL President Ludovic Orban announced on Monday.
Orban pointed out PNL will also notify the Venice Commission.
“We’ve decided to task PNL’s Judiciary Commission to notify the Venice Commission, because of the fact that the majority from the Standing Bureaus decided to reject PNL’s request for Parliament as a whole to notify the Venice Commission about the amendments to the judicial laws,” the PNL President pointed out.
Last Thursday, the Save Romania Union (USR) lodged with the Constitutional Court a notification of unconstitutionality regarding the decision to set up the special parliamentary committee on judicial laws, being of the opinion that “PSD-ALDE conferred illegal prerogatives upon the special committee, prerogatives which, according to the Regulations of the two Houses, belong to the Standing Judiciary Committees, doing so in order to shorten as much as possible the period for the debate and adoption of the amendments to the judicial laws.”
According to the USR, the decision does not clearly stipulate what is the role of the special committee, creating confusion between it and the prerogatives of the standing committees, the subsequent route of the bills becoming uncertain and unpredictable.
The CCR will discuss USR’s notification on December 13.
Over 20,000 protest to have judicial bill withdrawn
Over 20,000 people, according to some sources, on Sunday staged a protest rally in Bucharest, demanding the withdrawal of a controversial judicial bill, the rejection in the Parliament of the government ordinance on amending tax legislation, the resignation of the Government and of the Speakers of the Lower House and Senate.
The protesters gathered around 18:00hrs in Piata Victoriei and around 19:00hrs they marched to the Palace of Parliament.
Around 22:00hrs, the protesters started to leave.
Before the wooden cross in Piata Universitatii the protesters held a moment of silence in memory the heroes of the December 1989 Revolution and sang the national anthem, while in Piata Constitutiei, the demonstrators stopped before the Ministry of Justice and chanted ”Justitie, nu coruptie!” (Justice, not corruption!), ”Tu-Dorel, demisia!” (You, Dorel, resign!), ”Hotii!” (“Thieves!), ”Rusine!” (Shame!), “Demisia!” (Resignation!), ”Dragnea, nu uita, tara vrea averea ta!” (Dragnea, do not forget, the country wants your wealth), ”Pui de hoti si de mafioti!” (Offspring of thieves and mobsters!).
The protests were announced on Facebook, in Bucharest and other counties in the country, but also in Milan, Zurich, Birmingham and Paris. Civic groups and non-governmental organisations as well as trade union confederations had called on people to demand in the streets the withdrawal of the bill amending the judicial laws, the rejection in Parliament of the government ordinance amending tax legislation, and also the resignation of the Government and the Speakers of the Lower House and Senate.
Among the signatories of the protest call are Romania 100 Platform, Coruptia Ucide, the Romanian Centre for European Policies, Freedom House, and politicians.