Justice Minister Tudorel Toader stated on Saturday that he will personally attend the Constitutional Court of Romania’s (CCR) debate on the notification regarding the existence of a conflict between the Government and the President, after the latter rejected the request to dismiss National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi. He stated that President Klaus Iohannis violated the Constitution, this being the reason behind the notification, but avoided saying whether he deems it necessary to impeach him, pointing out that CCR’s decisions in such cases never resulted in the censuring of the side that generated the conflict.
“To solve the conflict, yes, I will personally go there. I’ve talked with the Premier and she asked me to back the things established in the notification,” Toader announced.
Asked what his strong argument will be, he said: “The unconstitutionality, the behaviour, and the creation of an institutional gridlock between the Romanian President on one hand, and the Justice Minister, member of the Government at the same time.”
Asked whether in his opinion the Head of State violated the Constitution and could be impeached, he said that the President violated the Constitution, this being the reason behind the move to notify the Court, but CCR decisions in such cases have never resulted in the censuring of the side that generated the conflict.
“The side that notifies the CCR about a juridical conflict of a constitutional nature obviously has the conviction that the side it denounces infringed upon constitutional exigencies. We bring arguments, the Court will decide. The Court has had the prerogative of solving such conflicts for 15 years, and many of them were ascertained, but did not result in the censuring of the side that generated the conflict. Don’t ask me why then I included among the 20 reasons as to why Mrs Kovesi violated the Constitution the fact that she caused the three [constitutional] conflicts – the second one ruled by Court, and in one of them the Court showing what conduct the DNA must observe –, because in that case we are talking about a repetitive violation of the Constitution. There were three conflicts, in a very short time, which means we have a different premise, a different hypothesis given the authorities’ relation to the Constitution,” the minister explained.
On April 23, Toader announced that Premier Viorica Dancila signed before him the notification to be lodged with the Constitutional Court, regarding President Klaus Iohannis’s refusal to dismiss from office DNA Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi, and that the document would end up at the CCR.
Toader on amending Criminal Codes: Where the form resulting from the special cttee differs from the one proposed by Justice Ministry, we will back our point of view
Referring to the bills amending the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code, bills that are currently within the special parliamentary committee, Tudorel Toader stated on Saturday that where there are differences between the bill coming out from the committee and the one proposed by the Government, the Justice Ministry will back its point of view.
“Parliament has merged our bills – concerning the Court’s decisions, the presumption of innocence and the extended confiscation – with the amendments tabled by parliamentarians. Where there are differences between the special committee’s bills on the enforcement of the Constitutional Court decisions and the bills tabled by the Government, of course we support the Justice Ministry’s point of view, namely the bill that we tabled. I’ve talked in general, but I’ve given many examples,” Toader stated.
He explained that the Ministry tabled the bills amending the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code in the sense of putting them in line with Constitutional Court decisions – decisions of admittance or interpretative decisions – in the sense of transposing the directive on extended confiscation in the Criminal Code, and the directive on the presumption of innocence in the Criminal Procedure Code.
The House and Senate’s joint special committee on systematising, unifying, and ensuring legislative stability in the field of the judiciary convened last Wednesday, for general debates on the bills amending law no.286/2009 on the Criminal Code, law no.135/2010 on the Criminal Procedure Code, and law no.134/2010 on the Civil Procedure Code.
Committee Chairman Florin Iordache announced that the committee will receive, by May 7, the observations on the amendments to the Criminal Codes and debates will take place at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, May 8.
The Opposition has claimed that the amendments to the Criminal Codes are “custom-made” for Liviu Dragnea and Calin Popescu Tariceanu. Ex-Justice Minister Florin Iordache, chairman of the committee, however claimed that these modifications seek “to normalise life in Romania.”
President Klaus Iohannis deemed that some of the proposals to modify the Criminal Codes are absolutely unacceptable and that “it’s inadmissible for some modifications to be made specifically for some persons who are now holding key positions in Parliament.”
“Some of these modifications are necessary, because there is the need for some modification of legislation, to set it in agreement with CCR decisions and in some points even with the European legislation. These proposals are good, and I believe Parliament will process them and will introduce these issues. Other proposals that were made – I don’t want to go into detail now, in this setting – are completely unacceptable and I believe the parliamentary debate will reveal which of them must remain up for debate and which should be dropped. However, I believe everyone must understand one principle – it’s inadmissible for some modifications to be made specifically for some persons who temporarily hold key positions precisely in Parliament,” President Klaus Iohannis stated.
JusMin: There is an intention to unify the electoral legislation into one code by 2019, in order to remove the legislative overlaps
Justice Minister Tudorel Toader stated on Saturday that there is an intention to unify the electoral legislation into one code by 2019, in order to remove the legislative overlaps; in his opinion, the current electoral legislation has several vulnerabilities.
Being asked what are the main vulnerabilities of the electoral laws, in his opinion, Tudorel Toader stated: “In my opinion, I believe there are several vulnerabilities. First of all, there is a law for each electoral process, for electing the President, for local elections, parliamentary elections, European Parliament elections. In my opinion, even in the Constitutional Court’s opinion, the electoral laws need to be included in one code, all of them gathered into the same electoral code, in order to remove the legislative overlaps, to remove the phrases, the terms having different wording, although they have the same meaning, according to the legislator’s will. Only then, we will have a clear, foreseeable, predictable law, only then authorities will organize according to the legislator’s will, only then citizens with the right to vote will fully and easily exert this right”.
He explained that there is an intention to unify the electoral laws in a code by 2019, and that to this end, the President of the Standing Electoral Authority (AEP) requested the support of the Justice Ministry.
“The intention exists, but we have to see the achievements. One of the Constitutional Court’s decisions referred to the need to include the electoral laws in a code. Professor Barbu, the President of the Standing Electoral Authority, asked for the collaboration of the Justice Ministry in order to draw up this code, together with their specialists. Of course, we are glad for this. I assured him that the Justice Ministry’s specialists will fully participate” Toader stated.
He wished to underline the difference between amending the laws and only gathering them in an electoral code, mentioning that this is about harmonizing the legal provisions.
“The intention is one thing, the realization is another thing. Codification is different than a collection of electoral laws, therefore, when we said codification, we referred to uniformity, harmonization of the legal provision. A collection of laws can be done even tomorrow, we gather the electoral laws, we put them between two covers and we publish them, but this is not a code, this is a collection of laws” the Minister explained.
Referring to the projects of amending the different electoral laws, including the one on the election of the President, Tudorel Toader said that “amending one electoral law on the election of the President doesn’t mean codification”.
“I’ll give you an example of the criminal law. There is an offense consisting of stealing the ballot box, the theft. Why should you repeat this offense five times, in every law, when it is enough to provide it once? Or another example: the electoral lists have different definitions in the electoral laws, so we must have a single definition, a single legal sense, since the electoral laws on the scope, the content, the form, the competence of drawing up the electoral lists, therefore the legislator’s will, is only one. Since we have the same legal problem, since we have the same problem to solve, since we have the same will of the legislator, we must have also the same legal formula, for the simple reason that Romanians must understand, authorities must understand, and if they don’t understand, the legislative technique regulations tell us that we must use the same wording, the same terms, the same phrase, in order to highlight, to underline, to regulate, to incriminate the same legal will” the Minister explained.
Toader on possible suspension of President: It is not within my competence, I do not consider myself political person
Justice Minister Tudorel Toader said on Saturday in Sinaia that he is not within his competence to discuss the prospect of a suspension of the President but of the leaders of the ruling majority alliance.
Asked if he knows of any intention of Parliament to suspend President Klaus Iohannis, in case the Constitutional Court says the minister of justice is right in the matter of the conflict between powers, Toader answered that it is not within his competence to address this issue.
“Let us wait for the ruling of the Court, if it admits the notification or rejects it. If it admits it, it is not my job as a minister to address this issue at all. It is within the competence of the leaders of the ruling majority alliance. Firstly, I am an independent minister, I am part of a political government, so I really do not consider myself a political person. (…) Therefore, I am not a political person, I am an independent minister in a categorically politically backed Government. It is not the minister who discusses the prospect of a suspension if the notification is admitted,” the minister said.
Minister Tudorel Toader has participated in Sinaia in the international conference organized by the Permanent Electoral Authority in partnership with the European Commission for Democracy through Law of the Council of Europe (Venice Commission) on “Free Elections, Parliaments and the Formation of the Nation”.