Justice Minister Tudorel Toader said on Wednesday evening that he was not surprised by the decision of the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR), which admitted the notification filed by the Speaker of the Deputies Chamber on the existence of a legal conflict of a constitutional nature between the Public Ministry, on the one hand, and the Parliament, the High Court of Cassation and Justice and the other courts, on the other hand, concerning the cooperation protocols with the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) in 2009 and 2016.
“The High Court of Cassation and Justice and the other courts, as well as the Public Ministry – the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice and the subordinate units – will verify in pending cases the extent to which a violation of the provisions occurred in terms of substantive competence and by the quality of the person of the criminal prosecution body and will order the appropriate measures,” CCR specified.
The referral to CCR, submitted on 8 October, was signed by the Deputy Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Florin Iordache, after Liviu Dragnea (Deputies Chamber Speaker, ed.n.) delegated his duties on that day.
“I confess that I, for one, was not surprised at today’s decision of the Constitutional Court. Of course, I was expecting it too, as did many of us, those involved in one way or another in the act of justice, we were looking forward to it, but, I repeat, I was not surprised. Why is that? Because justice, we all know, is or is to be done under the law,” Tudorel Toader said.
The Justice Minister added that the judiciary, whether prosecutors or judges, does not issue legal standards as law.
“We also know that the judicial bodies do not change the law, do not complete the law, do not confer judicial powers to other authorities,” Tudorel Toader said.
In the opinion of the Justice Minister, the signatories of the protocols would have practically created procedural rules to try evidence in a criminal case, and would have also conferred criminal prosecution powers to a competent authority, but only on matters of national security, not in the field of common criminal law.
Tudorel Toader argued that the signatories “substituted” themselves to the legislator. “They amended the law, completed the law, added to the law, and thus triggered the conflict on which the Court ruled today,” he said.
The minister posited a state of normality must be reached. “Normative normality, namely the work of lawmaking, of regulating, normality in the law interpretation and enforcement activity. Because only then do we give the vocation to what is exposed in the fundamental law, in the Constitution, the protection, the defense, the guarantee of the attributes, rights, fundamental freedoms of the person,” said the dignitary.
He added that law interpretation and enforcement must be normatively but also practically ensured.
“We do not want the guilty perpetrators be allowed to escape, get rid of the rigors of criminal law, but neither you nor I nor any of us think we want in a European Romania in 2019 to accept the open, defiant violation of the law by precisely those in charge with interpreting it, enforcing it correctly,” the minister said.
According to Toader, abuses must be “set right”, because it is not enough just for CCR to affirm that it was a conflict of a constitutional nature.
“What do we do as a result of this conflict being found? Of course, in the future, the Prosecutor’s Office will know that it is not allowed to do so any more, the High Court will know that panels must be formed, randomly constituted, but what do we do with the results, with the final sentences ruled based on protocols, let’s say of prosecution, or panels illegally constituted? We certainly need to find the remedy, because I repeat, in a rule of law, you cannot tell the Romanian: ‘Sir, this is it, the judges did not observe, but we ensure the stability of the legal relations or the criminal prosecution was done outside the criminal procedure, but we cannot do anything.’ Yes we can adopt a legal regulation to correct the abuses committed in one case or another,” said Tudorel Toader.
The Minister stressed that legal acts will be adopted in this respect. “As a minister, but obviously I am not the only one to decide, because Parliament can do it very well or the Government as a whole, we will adopt legal acts that will allow the correction of these abuses,” said Tudorel Toader.
PG Lazar: Optimistic current prosecution documents will be deemed legal
Romania’s Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar says that cases have always been built professionally, both in the trial and in the criminal prosecution stage, and is optimistic that the prosecution documents completed so far in the cases in the attention of the Public Prosecution Office will be kept as such.
In the context of the ruling handed down on Wednesday by the Constitutional Court, which found that the protocols between the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) and the Public Prosecution Office are unconstitutional, Lazar said that whenever criminal prosecution documents were found to not have been drawn up according to the law, they were considered illegal and discarded from use in the process.
“We will carefully follow the reasoning that will be given to the ruling. What I can assure you of is that the cases have always been built with particular care both in the criminal investigation, and in the judicial investigation phase, and whenever a case was referred to directions hearing we looked at the validity of the criminal prosecution documents. With or without a protocol, when a judge finds that a criminal prosecution document was not done in compliance with the law, he voids it, and nobody wants to work in vain,” Augustin Lazar explained.
Asked if the Constitutional Court ruling could affect the “heavy” cases, Lazar reminded that all evidence obtained illegally is suppressed, but said that he has not seen such acts so far.
”I haven’t seen such documents so far because no one wants to build cases that end up compromising him as a professional. And I am optimistic that as the legality of criminal prosecution acts in the cases under investigation is being verified, the documents will be considered legal, because in all the analyses we make with our colleagues we place great emphasis on the quality of the criminal prosecution. It is a priority of the Public Prosecution Office,” Augustin Lazar said at the headquarters of the Superior Council of Magistrates (CSM).
UNJR’s Garbovan: CCR finds one of most serious conflicts between state powers
The President of the National Union of Romania’s Judges (UNJR) Dana Garbovan holds that Wednesday’s decision of the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) on the protocols between the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) and the Public Ministry finds one of the most serious conflicts between state powers.
“The decision of the Constitutional Court today, January 16, 2019, which acknowledged that the secret protocols between SRI and the Public Ministry violated the Constitution and the separation of powers in the state, finds one of the most serious conflicts between state powers, the gravity being given both by the extent over time of this conflict – from 2009 to the present time – and its negative consequences on finding justice, with the arbitrary infringement of the fundamental rights of the citizens,” says Dana Garbovan, on a social network.
According to her, the conclusion of the secret protocols between the Public Ministry and SRI has chipped away at the competencies of the High Court of Cassation and Justice and of the judiciary in fulfilling their constitutional role in the exercise of justice.
“A full analysis of the effects of CCR’s decision can only be made after the Court has published its reasoning. Until then, the Court’s statement reveals a fact of unprecedented gravity: the conclusion of the secret protocols between the Public Ministry and SRI has chipped away at the powers of the High Court the Court of Cassation and Justice and the judiciary in the fulfillment of their constitutional role in seeing justice done.Through these protocols, rules of criminal procedure rules were secretly completed or amended, granting SRI competencies where the law prohibited them, without even the judges having knowledge of their content,” maintains Dana Garbovan.
The President of the UNJR considers that “it is still very serious that SRI has acted all this time outside of a real parliamentary control, which in itself constitutes a very serious threat to the Romanian democracy.”
The Constitutional Court of Romania admitted on Wednesday the notification of the Speaker of the Deputies Chamber regarding the existence of a legal conflict of a constitutional nature between the Public Ministry on the one hand and Parliament, the High Court of Cassation and Justice and the other courts, on the other hand, concerning the collaboration protocols with SRI in 2009 and 2016.