President Klaus Iohannis is urging the government to immediately repeal Emergency Ordinance (OUG) 7/2019 that amends justice legislation, and to implement the recommendations contained in the report by the European Commission on progress under Co-operation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) and in Venice Commission reports.
“The President of Romania, Mr Klaus Iohannis, is condemning the new attack by the majority coalition and the government against independent justice by the passage of OUG 7/2019 without any consultation and in complete ignorance of the dialogue partners, of justice professionals, with the risk of Romania straying away from respecting the rule of law,” the Presidential Administration reported on Monday.
Iohannis says the way in which the new piece of legislation has passed and its contents call into question the observance of the principle of the separation of powers, while violating the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court, and also ignoring the obligations incumbent on Romania as an EU member state.
“After the passage of this emergency ordinance, in full contempt of the constitutional role of the Supreme Council of Magistrates, the guarantor of judicial independence, and without any dialogue with the corps of magistrates, the invitation addressed by the prime minister to the representatives of the magistrates and the representatives of the Supreme Council of Magistrates only reveals disrespect to the judicial authority and the constitutional provisions that include the conditions in which the government can resort to the emergency ordinance instrument.”
He points out that “in a democracy, justice cannot be subordinated to politics, and moreover, it cannot be called an emergency the hasty modification of regulations in the interests of individuals or vested interests.”
Iohannis emphasises that what the prime minister is doing is “implicit recognition of the dilettantism manners, without any substantiation or transparency in the way the government is legislating.”
“This way of action has already become a government habit, similar to OUG 13/2017 and the highly controversial OUG 114/2018. That demonstrates a clear inability of the prime minister to understand the relations among the public authorities, as well as the constitutional architecture of powers,” Iohannis says.
He points out that the actions of the magistrates, the judicial organisations and all those who have sounded the alarm lately over this new “attack” against justice reflect the fact that Romanian democracy is mature and reacts to “abusive conduct.”
Iohannis adds that, as a guarantor of the independence of the judiciary, the Supreme Council of Magistrates must use its prerogatives to fulfil its constitutional mandate firmly and without delay.
“The way in which justice is being legislated can no longer continue like that by legislative solutions with immediate effects being passed by circumventing the substantiation stages and the actual consultation of the magistrates, which are the very essence of democracy. The unprecedented protests of the magistrates, who feel the political control in the field of justice, as well as the public dissatisfaction displayed by the citizens cannot be ignored. The effects of this government decision are detrimental to the rule of law and to the Romanian society as a whole, and the only solution to break the impasse reached at the moment, through the exclusive fault of the government, entails repealing OUG 7/2019 in its entirety. Without a free, independent justice no citizen will have any guarantee that his or her rights are being respected,” Iohannis concludes.