Referring to the information circulating publicly about the Government’s intention to issue a Government Emergency Ordinance (GEO) amending the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code, based on the model of GEO no.13, Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu stated on Monday that the Criminal Codes will be amended exclusively through parliamentary procedure, claiming that nobody proposed or discussed the adoption of a Government Emergency Ordinance amending the Codes, nor the adoption of the amendments by having the Government assume responsibility before Parliament.
“We haven’t discussed any kind of ordinance amending the Criminal Codes. Please remove this topic from the discussion. I’m officially telling you – we are going to exclusively follow the parliamentary path,” Tariceanu stated at the end of a ruling coalition meeting in which PSD leader Liviu Dragnea and Premier Viorica Dancila also took part.
Answering a question, Tariceanu said that the Codes will not be amended by having the Government assume responsibility before Parliament and that the PSD agrees with this option too.
“Nobody came up with such a proposal,” Tariceanu added.
He also pointed out that, “undoubtedly,” there will be an extraordinary parliamentary session in order to conclude the legislative priorities: “We discussed this some time ago and we agreed to have an extraordinary session.”
“JusMin working on document that would present the amending of the Penal Codes to foreign partners. There is a furious disinformation campaign and objective information is needed”
The Justice Ministry is drafting a document that presents the summary of the amendments to the Criminal Codes, a document that will be sent to Romania’s foreign partners, ALDE leader Calin Popescu Tariceanu stated on Monday at the end of the ruling coalition’s meeting. He claimed that the decision to draft this document – which offers “objective information” – was taken against the backdrop of “the furious campaign of disinformation” regarding the amending of the Codes.
“We discussed the need for Minister Tudorel Toader, along with the European Affairs Minister, to draft a document that he would then relay to foreign partners, presenting a summary of the amendments to the Criminal Codes. I believe objective informing is needed on the goal sought in Parliament, because I have seen fake news regarding the so-called amendments to the Criminal Codes,” Tariceanu said.
He said Romania is the only European Union state labelled as a corrupt country.
“The amplitude of the number of abuse of office dossiers has resulted in Romania holding some sad records, and I believe that, when modifying the Criminal Codes, we must tackle this issue from a European perspective. I don’t believe we must lower the intensity of the fight against corruption, but we should not allow this fight against corruption to become one of eliminating political partners,” the ALDE leader stated.
Tariceanu also said the decision has been made to draft such a document against the backdrop “of the furious disinformation campaign regarding the Criminal Codes.”
“It must be explained to foreign partners, so that doubts would not hang,” Tariceanu added, pointing out that this document will be transmitted to all embassies, European bodies, and to the U.S. State Department.
JusMin Toader says not consulted on possible ordinance to amend criminal codes
On the other hand, Justice Minister Tudorel Toader said on Monday he was not consulted on a possible emergency ordinance amending the criminal codes.
“I have been out of Bucharest for four days, five days. No such debate has been done with me. If I am asked, then I will respond and, please, agree that I do not answer hypothetical questions,” Toader said at the headquarters of the Ministry of Justice.
In Suceava on Saturday, Toader avoided commenting on any possible support on his part for the Government taking responsibility or passing emergency ordinances to amend the criminal codes, following statements made on Friday by national leader of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), major at rule, Liviu Dragnea that the parliamentary procedures are cumbersome, the ruling coalition’s actions are blocked by challenges, and the way adopted to have a debate in Parliament was wrong.
At the same time, Toader said that dozens of articles were declared unconstitutional when the criminal codes were adopted through the government taking responsibility or were amended through emergency ordinances.
He mentioned that on August 18, 2017, the government approved a bill released by the Ministry of Justice for the amendment of the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure to align the provisions of the two codes with the Constitutional Court’s relevant rulings and to transpose two European directives into Romanian legislation: a directive on extended powers of confiscation and another on the presumption of innocence.
The public turmoil regarding an alleged intention on the part of the Government to issue an emergency ordinance amending the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code was triggered last Friday evening when Liviu Dragnea had a first reaction following the court decision sentencing him to three and a half years in prison. Following the party’s Executive Committee meeting, Liviu Dragnea said that what happened at the Supreme Court was “a mass execution.” “Nine people had to be convicted to justify my conviction too,” Dragnea claimed.
Likewise, Liviu Dragnea announced that he will remain at the helm of the PSD, of the House and of the ruling coalition, that he will go “all the way,” that the Social Democrats were wrong to adopt a procedurally correct attitude in Parliament, and that from now on they will be “much firmer and far more radical” in what they want to do. Liviu Dragnea apologised to “the thousands of Romanians who sit in prison due to an unconstitutional article.”
Liviu Dragnea: Criminal Codes won’t be adopted through GEO, we will hold extraordinary session
PSD President Liviu Dragnea has stated that no option is ruled out but, at this moment, the coalition has decided that the amendments to the Criminal Codes should be adopted through parliamentary procedure, not through a government emergency ordinance (GEO).
“We will hold an extraordinary session, but the extraordinary session cannot last the whole summer either. We will try to adopt [them] under a rapid procedure. (…) As Mr Badalau was also saying, no solution is ruled out after all. If they get stuck then measures will be taken,” Liviu Dragnea stated.
Badalau says GEO on Criminal Code would be more practical but PSD must also persuade ALDE
Senator Niculae Badalau (PSD) stated on Monday that adopting a government emergency ordinance on the Criminal Code would be more practical because this bill has been up for public consultations for a year, but added that PSD must also persuade ALDE.
“A GEO would be more practical, but it can’t be done without the support of ALDE,” Badalau stated.
“You know very well that this bill has been sitting in public consultations for a year. What the Opposition is saying is madness. We are obligated by the EU to set Romanian legislation in line with their suggestions. We have many articles to set in line. This is what we are trying to do, but the legislative process takes time,” the PSD Senator added.
UDMR does not support the amending of the Penal Code via GEO, Senator Cseke Attila announces
Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) Senator Cseke Attila stated on Monday that his party does not support the amending of the Criminal Codes via government emergency ordinance (GEO), adding that, so far, UDMR does not have signals that an emergency ordinance is being prepared in this sense. Likewise, he said that the Ciolos Government’s decision to amend the Criminal Codes via emergency ordinance was not “fortunate.”
“For the time being we have no signals, whether official or informal, that emergency ordinances could be issued on this topic. In principle, I can tell you that UDMR did not support and did not agree with making modifications in this field – or in any other fields – through emergency ordinance, and that was also the case when the technocratic Government modified the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code via emergency ordinance, and we had the same attitude also when we talk about January, about Ordinance no.13. We have a Parliament, there is a majority that can pass the important bills, this field is much too important, alongside other fields, to modify them through emergency ordinance,” Cseke Attila stated.
Likewise, he said that the amending of the Criminal Codes must remain the prerogative of Parliament, reminding that the amendments to the Criminal Code brought by the Ciolos Government in 2016 were not “fortunate.”
“This field and other fields should remain the prerogatives of Parliament. The Constitution allows these procedures, but throughout time we always talked about the strengthening of Parliament’s role, that of debating and voting bills. It is not exactly a fortunate way and it wasn’t fortunate in 2016 either when over 100 articles of the Criminal Procedure Code and around 13 of the Criminal Code were modified, nor was GEO 13,” Cseke Attila pointed out.
Cseke also stated that “UDMR’s opinion, just like last year, just like two years ago: we do not support this procedure via emergency ordinance.”