JUSTICE POLITICS

Public Ministry presents 2017 activity review report. PG Lazar: Public Ministry sought to cooperate loyally, within legal framework with other powers.President Iohannis at the Public Ministry’s review: We’re witnessing an attempt to weaken the power of the prosecutors and to subordinate them to politicians, which is unacceptable

On Wednesday, Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar presented the Public Ministry’s 2017 activity review report, in the presence of President Klaus Iohannis. Justice Minister Tudorel Toader was not present at the event.

DNA Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi, High Court of Cassation and Justice Cristina Tarcea, Supreme Magistracy Council President Camelia Marcu and Chief of the Romanian Police Catalin Ionita also took part in the event. Likewise, also present were foreign diplomats and other representatives of the CSM, DNA and Public Ministry.

On this occasion, Prosecutor General Lazar emphasised that, aside from responsibility, the public attention that was focused permanently and sometimes insistently on the prosecutors’ work called for the undertaking of an upright conduct, of a highly ethical stance that would facilitate society’s unreserved acceptance of the product of the Public Ministry’s activity.

The Prosecutor General said that the Public Ministry’s 2017 activity review is taking place under the auspices of the Centennial of the Great Union and of the European Year of Cultural Heritage, and the recent publication – in collaboration with the Romanian Academy’s ‘Andrei Radulescu’ Institute for Juridical Research – of the “Juridical Protection of Cultural and Natural Heritage” scientific work, the first one in Romania dedicated to this field, comes against this backdrop.

“Entering the year in which the Romanian nation celebrates the Centennial of the Great Union allows us to note that the Romanian Public Ministry is an active member of the European family and has preoccupations that are in line with its strategies. The institution has oriented itself toward assimilating and implementing the instruments from the penal strategies of the member states of the European Union or promoted by the European Commission and also by other international bodies active in the protection of human rights,” Lazar said.

 

“Public Ministry sought to cooperate loyally, within legal framework with other powers”

 

The Public Ministry sought to cooperate “loyally” and “within the legal framework” with the other powers, Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar stated on Wednesday at the presentation of the 2017 activity report of the Public Ministry.

He mentioned the Constitutional Court decision which confirmed that the Prosecutor General’s Office acted within constitutional limits when assessing that no legal framework requires sending some criminal cases to a parliamentary investigation committee.

“Starting from the balance that must characterise the relations between the state powers, the Public Ministry sought to cooperate loyally and within the legal framework with the other powers. In this context, it’s necessary to underscore the Constitutional Court’s intervention, that was called in 2017 to solve conflicts of a constitutional nature between various public authorities and the Public Ministry. Therefore, the principle of loyal cooperation and the observance among the powers has been achieved through a jurisprudential way, according to the provisions of Article 1, paragraph 5 of the Constitution. In this context, we mention as an example Constitutional Court decision no.61 of 3 October 2017, which approved that the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice acted within the legal limits of the Constitution and domestic laws when assessing that no legal framework requires sending some criminal cases to a parliamentary investigation committee, regardless of their stage,” Lazar mentioned.

 

“Constitutional provisions prevent interference of other authorities from outside judiciary power”

 

Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar used the opportunity to underline that the constitutional and legal provisions currently ensure the operational independence of prosecutors in making decisions and prevent interferences or interventions on the part of other authorities from outside the judiciary power.

“Prosecutors enjoy the magistrate status which provides them in the judiciary activity the proper respect and authority, and, in exchange, also triggers a great responsibility. The public attention constantly and at times persistently directed towards the prosecutors’ work required, alongside the assumption of the aforementioned responsibility, the assumption of an upstanding conduct, a highly ethical position meant to facilitate society’s unreserved acceptance of the product of the Public Ministry’s activity. In 2017, prosecutors fulfilled their legal duties with professionalism, acting in defence of the rule of law and for the protection of citizens’ rights and freedoms. The constitutional and legal provisions currently ensure, practically and effectively, the operational independence of prosecutors in making decisions and prevent interferences or interventions of other authorities from outside judiciary power,” Lazar said.

 

“In 2017, prosecutors handled 1.7 million cases, of which over 530,000 were solved; almost 60,000 defendants were indicted”

 

Public prosecutors had to solve more than 1.7 million cases last year, more than 530,000 of which were solved, according to a 2017 activity review report that Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar presented on Wednesday. In these cases, almost 60,000 defendants were indicted, almost 4,000 of whom were underage defendants.

“The major coordinates of the prosecutors’ activity in 2017 consisted of the large volume of cases to solve, the special complexity given by their object and nature, the large number of persons involved, the diversity of the social and juridical areas in these cases and the multi-disciplinary approach to the cases, some of them having reverberations in Romania’s recent history,” Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar stated on Wednesday at the presentation of the Public Ministry’s 2017 activity review report.

Lazar stated that, in 2017, prosecutors handled 1,752,067 case files, of which they managed to solve 533,040, and 58,839 defendants were sent to trial.

“The major coordinates of the prosecutors’ activity in 2017 consisted of the large volume of cases to solve, the special complexity given by their object and nature, the large number of persons involved, the diversity of the social and juridical areas in these cases and the multi-disciplinary approach to the cases, some of them having reverberations in Romania’s recent history,” Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar stated on Wednesday at the presentation of the Public Ministry’s 2017 activity review report.

The general prosecutor showed that, in 2017, the prosecutors had 1,752,067 case files to deal with, out of which they solved 533,040, sending 58,839 defendants to trial (some 3,882 of which were minors). Out of the total number of defendants, 6,092 were held in custody.

Out of the total number of defendants sent to trial, 20,380 committed crimes against safety on public roads, more than half of them driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances.

Moreover, 1,036 defendants were definitively acquitted.

Augustin Lazar listed some of the important criminal cases tackled in 2017, including the awarding of the ‘Fighter in the Revolution’ title, which caused RON 14.1 million in damage to the state budget, representing the indemnities paid to revolutionaries, the Hexi Pharma case or the Miners’ Riots case.

 

 

President Iohannis at the Public Ministry’s review: We’re witnessing an attempt to weaken the power of the prosecutors and to subordinate them to politicians, which is unacceptable

 

“I congratulate you for the activity you successfully carried out last year. The Public Prosecution Service has a very well-defined constitutional role, since the prosecutor is a representative of the general interests of society and a defender of both the rule of law and the rights and liberties of citizens. The putting together of such attributes is not by hazard. By the virtue of their offices, prosecutors enjoy the statute of magistrates. Impartiality, integrity and professionalism make prosecutors responsible for the correct and complete building of cases, with full respect for the civil rights of all those involved in the criminal justice process,” President Iohannis said.

He underlined that discussing the statute of prosecutors has become a “habit” in Romania, in which case he claims there is “deliberate” confusion in an attempt to weaken the independence of prosecutors.

“It has become a habit in Romania to intensely discuss the statute of prosecutors; the article in the Constitution that says the activity of prosecutors is carried out under the authority of the minister of justice is frequently pointed at. Let me be very clear: the words in the Constitution read under the authority of the minister of justice, and in no way subordinated to the minister. There is a deliberate confusion between these two meanings, precisely to induce the idea of much more extensive control over prosecutors than that provided for by the fundamental law. It is just an attempt to weaken the independence of prosecutors and legitimise their obedience to the whims of politics, an unacceptable fact,” Iohannis said at the activity report meeting of the Public Prosecution Service.

He added that we are noticing in some political discourses an ever-growing concern for the fate of some criminally convicted persons.

“We are witnessing in some political and media discourses an ever-growing concern for the fate of some criminally indicted and convicted persons, who are obviously bothered that the judicial system is doing its job in what concerns them, disturbing their tranquillity and affecting their well-being. An attempt is being made to credit the false idea that prosecutors are the enemies of society. On the contrary, prosecutors are on the same side of those who want the enforcement of the law, and on the other side are several individuals at odds with the law, who are fully interested in discrediting the judiciary. Let’s be perfectly clear: the Romanian Constitution makes no mention of the lawbreakers’ right to tranquillity. The Fundamental Law explicitly stipulates that ‘nobody is above the law,’ that ‘citizens are equal before the law and before public authorities, without privileges and without discrimination,’” Iohannis stated.

The Head of State added that the existence of a clear and predictable legislative framework is needed so that magistrates would not be subjected to orders coming from a political majority.

“The magistrates are those called upon to make sure that these constitutional stipulations are applied, so that Romanian society would have the certainty that democracy consolidates itself and its European future is not at risk. That is precisely why the existence of a clear and predictable normative framework is needed, one in which any magistrate carries out his/her activity independently and efficiently, without being subjected to any command coming from a conjunctural and temporary political majority. Obviously, ensuring a fair trial, the rendering of fair justice, the need for detention facilities that would ensure civilised conditions, this is undisputable and has to do with the observance of fundamental human rights. Unfortunately, issues of substance that can certainly be improved are not being discussed now, but the attempt is being made to intimidate those who enforce the law. In this context, it is even more important for magistrates not to forget for a moment the essential role that they have not just in the carrying out of the act of justice, but also as role models of responsibility and morality in Romanian society.  If there are errors, they must be corrected with celerity. If mistakes are done, those responsible must be held accountable, and where abuses are discovered the sanctions must be applied urgently and with severity. The best defence against any attempts to denigrate a profession is to ensure a high standard of ethics and professionalism and to efficiently solve those pinpoint problems that are inevitable in any field,” President Klaus Iohannis added at the Public Ministry’s activity review meeting which was not attended by the Justice Minister.

 

“Romanians don’t want criminals making the law and magistrates being subordinated to politicians”

 

President Klaus Iohannis on Wednesday stated also that the Public Ministry must implement measures to solve cases in a more efficient manner, to reduce the number of case files and balance the activity volume of the prosecutors’ offices.

“Any activity report invites us to look to the future. We must find and implement measures at the Public Ministry level that will help conducting the cases in a more efficient manner, by reducing the number of files and balancing the activity volume of the prosecutors’ offices. All these can contribute to the consolidation of the progress made by the Public Ministry so far,” said the Head of State at the presentation of Public Ministry’s 2017 the activity report.

He underscored that Romania needs to develop public policies and a legislation that will focus more on prevention measures to stop the criminal phenomenon and on the education of the citizens, especially the younger ones, with respect to the negative effects of breaking criminal laws.

“Romanians do not want criminals to make the law and magistrates to be subordinated to the politicians. Society understood that a modern Romania cannot be built on quicksand, and one of the basic pillars of democracy, and I refer here, of course, to an independent judiciary, must function in the most efficient manner possible. Justice is a public service and citizens have big expectations from the magistrates in this respect,” added the Head of State.

In the end, he assured the prosecutors that he will remain a firm supporter of an independent and functional judiciary, which guarantees and respects the rights and liberties of the citizens.

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