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July 31, 2021

Augustin Zegrean on CCR decision to curtail national security wiretap warrants: It’s not a tragedy; I don’t know if abuses took place (…) but the Court, in general, issues wise decisions

Former Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) President Augustin Zegrean stated for MEDIAFAX that Romania’s national security law is an old law that has not been set in line with the Constitution, and that declaring Article 3 of the said law unconstitutional “is not a tragedy.”

Augustin Zegrean stated that law no.51/1991 on the national security of Romania is an old law, adopted prior to the Constitution being adopted, and a law that was not set in line with the 1991 Constitution. Moreover, declaring Article 3(f) of the said law unconstitutional “is not a tragedy,” the SRI being able to request warrants based on other articles of the law too.

“This is a law from prior to the adoption of the Constitution, it’s a law from July 1991, and it should have been set in line with the Constitution long ago because it can no longer keep up. It should have been verified long ago and adapted to the new social relations and to the new Constitution. The fact that they won’t be able to request wiretap warrants based on paragraph (f) of the law does not mean they won’t be able to carry out the wiretaps. They will, because they will be [based] on other paragraphs of that article. Of course, it’s a curtailment, but now the law is going to be set in line with the Court’s decision. The Government has sufficient time to re-analyse the text and to set it in line with the Court’s decision,” Augustin Zegrean told MEDIAFAX.

According to the former CCR President, the article of law is still in force, until the Court’s decision is published in the Official Journal.

“Until the decision appears in the Official Journal, the text is still in force. After it appears in the Official Journal, the Government has 45 days at its disposal to set in line with the Court’s decision the text declared unconstitutional, in which time the text declared unconstitutional is suspended. Until then, they have sufficient time to put the whole law under scrutiny, to set it in line with the Constitution. There is no tragedy that this paragraph was declared unconstitutional,” Zegrean added.

Asked whether he considers abuses were made, Augustin Zegrean said he has no knowledge of that.

“I don’t know whether abuses took place, because they weren’t asking us for the warrants. But, rest assured, the Constitutional Court has analysed this text very carefully, especially these days when all eyes are on it. But the Court, in general, issues wise decisions,” the former CCR President added.

On Wednesday, the Constitutional Court of Romania partially admitted an exception of unconstitutionality that concerns law no.51/1991 on the national security of Romania.

The Court admitted the unconstitutionality exception that concerns Article 3(f) of the legislative act, according to which threats to the national security of Romania consist of “undermining, sabotage or any other actions that seek the removal, by force, of the democratic institutions of the state or that cause grave harm to the fundamental rights and freedoms of Romanian citizens or that can harm the country’s capacity to defend or other similar interests, as well as the acts of destroying, degrading or rendering unusable the structures necessary for the proper course of the social-economic life or for national defence.”


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