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October 23, 2021
JUSTICE POLITICS

Embassies of 12 partner countries call upon Romania to consider potential negative impact of criminal law amendments. Reactions

The Embassy of the US in Bucharest conveyed on Thursday that “important partner countries” called upon Romania to take into account “the potential negative impact of criminal law amendments.”

Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Switzerland, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden endorse this standpoint alongside the US.

“We, Romania’s international partners and allies, call on all parties involved in amending Romania’s criminal and criminal procedure codes to avoid changes that would weaken the rule of law or Romania’s ability to fight crime or corruption. Romania has shown considerable progress in combatting corruption and building effective rule of law. We encourage Romanians to continue on this path,” reads the release of the US Embassy.

The EU partners also evoke the conclusions of the European Council on the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) of 12 December 2017, calling on Romania to focus its efforts on further consolidating progress made, avoid taking any steps backwards, and safeguard the independence of judges and prosecutors, the release mentions.

“We are following closely the changes to the criminal codes and remain concerned that several are likely to impede international law enforcement cooperation and negatively impact the fight against violent crime, transnational organized crime, financial crimes, and drug and human trafficking. We encourage all parties involved to reconsider feedback provided by domestic legal experts such as the Superior Council of Magistracy, and to seek support from international legal experts such as the Group of States Against Corruption and the Venice Commission,” reads the release.

 

Reactions

 

President Klaus Iohannis on the 12 states’ warning on amending judicial laws: They’re perfectly right, it’s what I’ve been saying

 

President Klaus Iohannis stated on Thursday, in Brussels, that the 12 partner states’ warning regarding the amending of the judicial laws is justified.

“They’re perfectly right, it’s what I’ve been saying for long. The judicial laws can be modified, but the modifications must improve the efficiency of the judicial system. And this is what I’ve been saying for long and what many Romanians are saying. I hope this will be heard at the PSD too,” Klaus Iohannis stated in Brussels.

 

MAE’s reaction after warning signal on Penal Codes: Partner states’ message shows recognition of progress made in constructing the rule of law

 

The Foreign Affairs Ministry (MAE) is reacting to the letter sent by the 12 partner states, pointing out that it is in fact a recognition of the progress made by Romania in combating corruption and consolidating the rule of law.

“The Foreign Affairs Ministry has taken note of the position expressed today by the 12 partner states in what regards the process of amending the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code. The partner states’ recognition of the progress demonstrated by Romania in combating corruption and constructing an efficient rule of law shows, once again, the efforts that state institutions constantly exert to ensure the observance of the law and of Romania’s commitments, within both the European and international frameworks,” the MAE points out in a press release.

The ministry adds that Romanian institutions have permanent dialogue with European institutions in what concerns the amending of the judicial laws, and Romania observes the international commitments it has taken.

“We reiterate that state institutions have a permanent and transparent dialogue with European and international institutions, including on the judicial laws, in view of facilitating efficient international cooperation and of observing all of Romania’s international commitments. The process of amending the legislation in the penal domain represents a prerogative of Parliament, conferred through the Constitution, and the stages of this process are being observed, including from the standpoint of public consultations and dialogue with citizens. We reiterate that the amending process is ongoing, these laws being set to come into force only after they are adopted by Parliament and after they are promulgated by the Romanian President. We emphasise that the strengthening of the rule of law and the fight against corruption are part of the priorities undertaken through the 2018-2020 governance programme,” the MAE adds.

 

Manda: We are nevertheless the Parliament of Romania, we are voted by Romanians, it  is Parliament’s right to legislate

 

Senate Deputy Speaker Claudiu Manda stated on Tuesday, in reaction to the message of the 12 states regarding the amendments to criminal law, that it is the Parliament’s right to legislate and that the amendments to the Codes took into account the decisions of the Constitutional Court and the stipulations of the Venice Commission.

“We are nevertheless the Parliament of Romania, we are voted by the citizens of Romania, it is Parliament’s right to legislate, I’m sure the amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code and the Criminal Code and to the other codes and the other judicial laws have taken into account the decisions of the Constitutional Court, the decisions of the Venice Commission, and when there were articles that infringed upon some provision of the Constitutional Court they were taken to the Court, the Court expressed its point of view, the same procedure will probably be used when modifying the codes,” Claudiu Manda stated.

 

Catalin Radulescu: U.S. Ambassador thinks we’re some colony. I demand explanations from Melescanu

 

House lawmaker Catalin Radulescu (PSD) stated on Thursday, for Mediafax, that “some states or some ambassadors cannot dictate the legislative act,” which is done by the people through their representatives, so he will ask Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu to go before Parliament and offer explanations.

“On Monday morning I will file an interpellation, I will also make a political statement on Tuesday morning. I will file an interpellation for Foreign Minister Melescanu, to see what overtures he is making, to see whether it wouldn’t have been normal for him to be the first among us to make an overture. He should have made this overture, he should have called ambassador Klemm telling him: mister ambassador, you are not observing elementary things, you forget you’re in a foreign country, you don’t understand you can’t state this publicly, you should come discuss it with me, as Foreign Minister. He (Ambassador Hans Klemm – editor’s note) is mocking, he believes we are some colony of the United States. We are nobody’s colony. We are an independent country. Some states or some ambassadors cannot dictate the legislative act. The Romanian people make the legislative act through their representatives,” Catalin Radulescu stated.

He pointed out he will ask Teodor Melescanu to personally answer the questions in Parliament.

“Firstly, I will ask him whether he has subsequently made any overture, whether he has made any overture to invite him for talks and to tell him that he is not observing fundamental things. (…) I gravely condemn these embassies’ and these ambassadors’ – primarily the ambassadors’ – interference in the domestic affairs of our country. The Geneva Convention does not allow them to do this. If the initiator of this overture is Mr Klemm (U.S. Ambassador to Romania Hans Klemm – editor’s note), the famous ambassador, whether he is doing this on his own or he informed President Trump. On the other hand, along with the other ambassadors, he does not observe the United Nations Charter which says they are not allowed to intervene in domestic affairs, in the legislative act, neither directly nor indirectly. I have serious reservations that they are speaking on behalf of their states,” Radulescu added.

The Social Democratic lawmaker criticised the latest foreign ministers.

“We were very strong in diplomacy throughout history through the foreign ministers we had. It seems we no longer have them, because we have become very soft. Now we end up having foreign ministers who are afraid to react, to defend their country,” the Social Democrat concluded.

 

Iordache on Western states’ call not to weaken rule of law through amendments to Penal Code: No reason for these concerns

 

Florin Iordache (PSD), chairman of the committee on the judicial laws, stated on Thursday that the 12 partner states should have “no reason for concern,” pointing out that the Criminal Code is being debated, but gave assurances that the anticorruption fight will continue.

“I understand there is a letter from the embassies, which express a series of concerns. I believe there is absolutely no reason for these concerns. Those who have expressed these concerns, as long as there are no concrete mentions, the ones concerning the Criminal Procedure Code is [sic] subjected to constitutionality oversight at the CCR, and if the CCR notes that certain articles are not in line with the Constitution we will undoubtedly modify them. As they are now they offer no reason for concern, because through that Criminal Procedure Code we have only set in line our legislation with both the European directives and the Court’s decisions,” Florin Iordache, chairman of the special committee amending the judicial laws, stated.

Likewise, he claimed that the Criminal Code has not been finalised by the committee.

“Regarding the concerns about the Criminal Code, the Criminal Code is being debated. The Criminal Code, as you know, I believe we went through half of it, we will continue next week. Not even we know how it will look following the debates, but the way it leaves the committee and will be debated first within the Senate and then in the Lower House, it will be subjected to constitutionality oversight and I assure you that the anticorruption fight will continue,” Florin Iordache stated on Thursday, after the committee’s debates on the Criminal Code.

 

 

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