Minister of Internal Affairs Carmen Dan said on Tuesday that there is no information at this time that the magistrates’ protest would have led to the blocking of some files worked by police staff but stressed that their action is not to be appreciated.
“Border Police continue to do their job. I hope we will overcome this period and everyone must understand that all professional categories have to exercise their attributions with responsibility. I do not know if it is welcome for a category that is primarily concerned with respecting the law to be the first to break it. It is difficult for me to make considerations about that,” Interior Minister Carmen Dan said about the protest of the magistrates.
Present on the 2018 activity review of the Border Police General Inspectorate, Carmen Dan did not want to comment on the reasons for which the magistrates are protesting, but asserting that their action “is not something to be appreciated.”
“I can only say that this is not something to be appreciated and I also want this professional category to realize very quickly that its contribution is needed as well as the contribution of the other state institutions,” the Interior minister said.
Asked if until now she had received information about blockages in police investigations, under the coordination of prosecutors, she replied: “My colleagues have not reported such a situation. As I said, we continue to do our job. There are files handled by the Romanian Police and by the Border Police, and I hope that reciprocity exists from the other side, as well.”
Supreme Court President Tarcea points finger at JusMin Toader’s dissembling manner of requesting opinion on GEO No. 7
Supreme Court President Cristina Tarcea said JusMin Tudorel Toader’s manner of seeking the opinion of the Superior Council of the Magistrates on GEO No. 7 falls short of the requirement for sincere cooperation, arguing that although the ordinance does not have catastrophic effects on the justice system, “it was the last straw.”
Speaking Monday night on private broadcaster Antena 3, Tarcea described the circumstances under which the Justice Minister had asked for CSM’s opinion on the controversial GEO No. 7. that was adopted by the Government on February 19 for modifying justice laws and forbidding delegation mandates in leadership offices at the Public Prosecution Service.
“The draft Emergency Ordinance had been handed over the day before. I understand that on that evening, the CSM Legislation Department worked out a point of view on the opinion to be issued. The CSM plenary meeting was held the next day at 9 a.m., with the Minister of Justice also attending. (…) One of the subjects of debate was whether or not we put the opinion on Ordinance 7 on the agenda. We almost unanimously agreed that, as we hadn’t at least read the ordinance – I for myself hadn’t even seen it – we cannot just hastily produce an opinion in an hour or two. The minister was there with us and he participated in that conversation. I consider the fair way to act would have been for him to tell us to issue the opinion, because the government meeting was scheduled in a few hours time. He did not inform us about that. This is about respecting rights, about loyal cooperation between institutions. I tell you that this is not an example of loyal cooperation, and I also tell you that the mere request for an opinion does not amount to formally requesting it. This is not about faking the appearance of respecting a right, that right must be respected in its substance. In order to issue an opinion you need time, not only to read, but also to understand what the document states. The OUG has 5-6 pages. Had I known that it was going to be approved on that day, I would have definitely sat down to read and examine it,” Tarcea explained.
The head of the supreme court also asserts that although Ordinance 7 does not have “catastrophic effects,” it “was the last straw.”
“The issue is the lack of loyal cooperation, the lack of sincerity and the double standard. As you see, we are all going through a period of crisis. It’s a crisis of mistrust, of lack of dialogue. The ordinance doesn’t have catastrophic effects for the justice system. There are many elements that can never be accepted. But this was the last straw. It’s the lack of dialogue, the lack of confidence, the contempt the magistrates, judges and prosecutors equally, are being treated with. This ordinance was not sent to the High Court of Cassation and Justice. That morning I was informed that it had been sent to me, I checked the fax and e-mail incoming documents, and I had not received anything,” Tarcea said.
Section for prosecutors of the Supreme Council of Magistrates: In applying OUG 7, Section for prosecutors denies extension of two leadership mandates at DNA
The Section for prosecutors of the Supreme Council of Magistrates (CSM) on Tuesday rejected the proposals made by the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) for extension of two leadership delegation mandates at this institution, in applying the provisions of the GEO 7/2019.
“On Tuesday, the Section for prosecutors decided to reject the proposals made by the DNA for extension of two leadership delegation mandates at this institution, namely the one of chief prosecutor of the Section for combating corruption and chief prosecutor of the Criminal Justice Section,” reads a release of the Section sent to AGERPRES.
The same source specified that in adopting this decision the magistrates took into account the provisions of the GEO 7/2019 that forbid delegation mandates in leadership offices at the prosecutor’s offices in the case of which the appointment is made by the Romanian President.
“As a result of this measure, the offices in question will remain vacant for a period of time that cannot be anticipated, with actual consequences on the specific attributions among which we mention the one regarding the verification of the lawfulness and substantiality of indictments,” reads the release.
The Section for prosecutors also drew attention once more on the effects of GEO 7 /2019 on the activity of the Public Prosecution Service, reiterating in this context the need for abrogation of all provisions of the abovementioned normative act, which are likely to affect this activity.
CSM: Proposal on reasonable time for issuance of consultative opinion, approved
The Superior Council of Magistrates (CSM) announced that the proposal regarding the provision of a reasonable time for the issuance of the consultative opinion was approved following Monday’s meeting between the president of the institution, judge Lia Savonea, and Prime Minister Viorica Dancila.
“On the basis of the mandate granted today by the plenum of the Superior Council of Magistrates, the president participated in the meeting with the Premier, at the Government seat. Following these discussions, the proposal of the Superior Council of Magistrates was agreed on regarding the provision of a reasonable time for the issuance of the consultative opinion, the maintenance of the requested made by the Council, as well as the measure to abrogate the amendments made to the provisions of Article 54 paragraph (1) of the Law No. 303/2004 on the status of judges and prosecutors regarding the possibility of appointing judges in the positions of leadership at the prosecutors’ offices,” reads a CSM release.
According to the same source, at the CSM meeting where the effects of GEO 7/2019 were analyzed, magistrates expressed that the principle of loyal interinstitutional cooperation requires a reasonable time to express the consultative opinion, even in cases where the adoption of a normative act as a matter of urgency is necessary.
DNA prosecutors endorse notification of CCR on GEO 7/2019 and request starting a conflict of constitutional nature
The National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) prosecutors convened on Tuesday in a General Assembly meeting and decided to endorse the demarches to notify the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) regarding Government Emergency Ordinance (GEO) No.7/2019 and trigger a legal conflict of constitutional nature between the Government and the judicial authority.
“The Information and Public Relations Office within the National Anticorruption Directorate is empowered to convey the conclusions resulted following the voting, namely the adopted measures: the endorsement of Decision No.95/20.02.2019 of the Prosecutors’ Section within the Superior Council of Magistracy [CSM], in the sense that the amendments brought through GEO No.7/2019 include unconstitutional provisions, leading to the blockage of the Public Prosecution Service activity, including the DNA activity; the endorsement of the PICCJ [the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice] demarche to request the Ombudsman to notify the CCR regarding the unconstitutionality of GEO No.7/2019; the request for the entitled holders to start a judicial conflict of constitutional nature between the Government, as the delegated legislator, and the judicial authority, because the amendments brought through GEO No.7/2019 make it impossible for the Public Prosecution Service to exercise its constitutional duties,” a DNA release sent to AGERPRES mentions.
The prosecutors also decided to send an open letter to the Justice Minister, in order to explain the manner in which the appointment procedure for the prosecutor-in-chief offices at the DNA is to be carried out and completed, in the 22-day period until the delegations expire, as well as the notification of the Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) representatives and the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL) within the Council of Europe regarding the manner in which GEO No.7/2019 will affect the efficiency of the criminal investigation bodies from the perspective of anti-corruption and money laundering offenses.
Another decision refers to posting, on the internet page of the DNA, a public message regarding the risk of blocking the institution’s activity following GEO No.7/2019 and the paralysing of the fight against high-level corruption.
“During the sitting, also submitted to the General Assembly voting were other proposals of the participants that didn’t gather the number of votes (simple majority of the number of attendees) necessary for their adoption,” the release mentions.
PSD’s Nicolicea says prosecutors who suspend activity commit offence punishable by jail or fine
House Deputy Speaker Eugen Nicolicea says that prosecutors who suspend their activity in order to protest against Government Emergency Ordinance no.7 commit an offence punishable by imprisonment or fine.
“Regarding the recent suspension of the activity of prosecutor’s office units, there are several aspects that nobody sees or states. I have said it before and I repeat, double standards do profound harm to society! Saying that the law is equal for all but demanding differential treatment is a typical example of double standards,” Nicolicea states in a communique.
He points out that Romanian law leaves no room for interpretations in what concerns the provisions according to which “the suspension of the activity of prosecutor’s office units represents an offence and is punishable as such.”
“Thus, according to Article 181 of Law no.62/2011 on social dialogue, ‘a strike is any form of collective and voluntary cessation of work.’ Considering that a temporary suspension of activity means that the activity ceases for a limited period, a collective and voluntary suspension, albeit temporary, falls within the definition of the strike; Article 202 very clearly stipulates that prosecutors and judges cannot go on strike; Article 218 points out that triggering a strike in violation of Article 202 represents an offence and is punishable by 1 month to 1 year in prison or fine,” Nicolicea emphasises.
The House lawmaker points out that, as stated by the European Court of Human Rights, any person has the right to free expression, this right including freedom of thought and freedom to receive or communicate information or ideas, however in the case of ceasing an activity one cannot talk about the communication of information or ideas but solely about the refusal to carry out an activity.
“I do not know what is worse – that those who should know and enforce the law do not know it, or that those who should watch over its observance knowingly infringe upon it,” Eugen Nicolicea adds.
Iordache: Magistrates’ protest against GEO no.7 not fair because it affects citizens . It was a mistake for JusMin not to hold ampler consultations
The magistrates’ protest against the government emergency ordinance (GEO) on the judicial laws is not fair because it affects the citizens, House lawmaker Florin Iordache (PSD) has stated for RFI. He believes that Premier Viorica Dancila has done the right thing by launching dialogue with the magistrates and that the Justice Ministry not holding ampler consultations with them before adopting GEO no.7 was a mistake.
“Prime Minister Viorica Dancila has done very good to initiate dialogue and, following this dialogue, I’ve understood this provision which was generically no longer talking about a separation of career will be eliminated,” Iordache said.
Asked whether dialogue should have been launched before GEO no.7 was adopted, not after, the House lawmaker said: “The very good dialogue that Premier Viorica Dancila has launched was [meant] to lower tension and feel the pulse. What I see as a mistake, I believe ampler and more transparent consultations were needed before its adoption, but this is the Justice Ministry’s problem. Viorica Dancila did very well, she was away in recent days, she was in Spain; she launched this dialogue precisely in order to release the tension and to find the best solutions.”
Florin Iordache considers that the magistrates no longer have reasons for discontent, after Minister Tudorel Toader announced the amending of GEO no.7 on Monday evening: “To affect the citizens, because, after all, the magistrates too are in the service of the citizen, and to affect [them] either by delaying court hearings or by not showing up at the prosecutor’s offices, and the citizens being affected, I don’t find it fair.”
Told that the amendments that Tudorel Toader announced on Monday evening have not satisfied the magistrates, the House lawmaker responded: “Well, wait a minute, what isn’t pleasing them? It doesn’t please them the fact that the separation of careers… because in fact this thing… they probably have other hidden things they are not stating. If the separation of careers, which they complained about, has been eliminated and judges can no longer enter the corps of prosecutors, nor the other way around, [if] this issue has been eliminated, what are we talking about? (…) I too am waiting for the final form, so as to discuss in an applied manner, but if the articles that bothered them will be eliminated why are they protesting?”.
Vice President of the Deputies’ Chamber, about amending GEO no.7: Taking into account the urgency, the amendments must be made by the Government
The Vice President of the Deputies’ Chamber, Florin Iordache, stated on Tuesday that the Government is the one that should amend the GEO on the Laws on Justice, arguing that the urgency is required by the fact that there are several leading positions at the General Prosecutor’s Office that are going to remain vacant.
“I believe those amendments must be made by the Government. I want to remind those who have a defective memory that most of the normative acts have been amended by the Parliament, but taking into account the urgency, taking into account that there are certain provisions that apply immediately, and we are talking about the magistrates’ career or a certain procedure, I think it lasts too long until it will become an adoption law. Those dissatisfactions related to the article on separating careers. I understand this amendment has caused the highest upset or worry inside the system, and this article must be amended by GEO, because during the coming period, a number of leading positions will remain vacant at the level of the General Prosecutor’s Office; I am speaking about the General Prosecutor, the deputy prosecutors or the heads of departments, and if the ordinance is not amended by other ordinance, at the time of starting the procedures in question, according to Article 54, a judge could also hypothetically run for these positions”, Florin Iordache stated on Tuesday at the Parliament, when asked if the emergency ordinance should be amended by the Parliament or by the Government.
Iordache’s reaction comes after Justice Minister Tudorel Toader stated that PSD is a majority party, and Social Democrats can initiate amending procedures in Parliament.
Magistrates’ associations: Dissatisfactions cannot be satisfied by salon promises, related to a future and uncertain repeal
Asociatia “Forumul Judecatorilor din Romania” (The Association “Romanian Judges’ Forum” – e.n.), Asociatia “Miscarea pentru Apararea Statutului Procurorilor” (The Association “The Movement for Defending the Prosecutors’ Statute” – e.n.) and Asociatia “Initiativa pentru Justitie” (The Association “The Initiative for Justice” – e.n.) say that the magistrates’ dissatisfactions cannot be satisfied by salon promises, related to a future and uncertain repeal, temporally undetermined, of a simple text of the emergency ordinance which could have had only “individual” beneficiaries, among the judges willing to aspire to a high rank leading position in the prosecutors’ offices.
“The manner by which these discussions have been managed by the Superior Council of Magistracy proves once again that the request of the professional body to observe the competences and the role of each CSM Department and to involve the Plenum in all the decisions related to the judiciary, according to the Constitution, regaining immediately the authentic character of a collegial organism by the Superior Council of Magistracy and stopping to issue press releases by the CSM President or groups of members, likely to facilitate the taking over of the message by the media, on one hand, as coming from the institution itself, is justified”, reads the release of the three associations, which mentions again that “the independence of Justice cannot be negotiated”.
They mention that the President of the High Court of Cassation and justice, as the legal representative of the judicial power, and the General Prosecutor of the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice, weren’t invited at the meeting held at the Government on Monday – or, at least, they haven’t participated – , but in exchange, the Chief-Prosecutor of the Special Department for Investigating Judiciary Offenses was present, probably according to the capacity provided by GEO no.7/2019, namely the highest “hierarchically superior prosecutor”.
“The ‘negotiation’ of maintaining these legislative provisions were supported also by the representatives of certain association of judges and or prosecutors, towards whom more than 2000 colleagues who are magistrates individually delineated themselves during the year 2018, considering that the opinions expressed throughout the legislative process were deemed inappropriate for the evolution of magistracy. Also, certain branches dissolved themselves and many members resigned from these associations, for the same reasons”, the press release also reads.
Further, the three associations list other essential aspects, which may prove harmful for the independence of Justice, on which a consensus hasn’t been reached between participants not even verbally, as the outcomes of the “discussions” have been reported, with brief remarks:
The proposal to adopt a “memorandum” to give to the Superior Council of Magistracy a reasonable term in order to issue opinions is not sufficient, because it would be at most an infra-legal act of “good practices”, without real and efficient guarantees in case of non-observance, while the general assemblies decided on the request to have legislative procedures initiated by the holders by right (including the Romanian Government), in order to amend the Law no.90/2001 for expressly and imperatively conditioning the Government’s right to legislate through emergency ordinances in the filed of the Laws on Justice and the criminal laws, by that reasonable term.
The dissatisfactions of the magistrates’ professional body are related to the existence itself of the Special Department for Investigating Judiciary Offenses, not just to the adjustment of gravitating outside the orbit of the traditional judiciary, which involved separated competences and the observance of the principle of checks and balances.
Establishing the Special Department for Investigating Judiciary Offenses implies an exclusive jurisdiction that doesn’t exist in the case of any other social-professional category, without any procedural guarantee in the case in which the members themselves of the Special Department would be investigated for an offense, so that a criminal de facto immunity can be avoided.
The observance of the recommendations of the Report of the European Commission published in November 2018, of the conclusions from the opinion issued in October 2018 by the Venice Commission, and the conclusions and recommendations of the GRECO report from March 2018, was possible on the occasion of the legislative amendments by which changes have been brought to the Laws on Justice by emergency ordinances, but the consequence was actually a departure from the coordinates given by the international entities.
(…) The solution available to the Government and Parliament is to repeal certain provisions of the Laws on Justice and the subsequent emergency ordinances that have been criticized by the European Commission, the Venice Commission and GRECO, respectively the review of certain provisions of these normative acts, as the case may be, after a real consultation of the judiciary.
Prosecutors with Prosecutor’s Office attached to Bucharest Court of Appeals stand in solidarity with magistrates’ protest
The prosecutors with the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the Bucharest Court of Appeals decided on Tuesday to stand in solidarity with the magistrates’ actions against the adoption of Government Emergency ordinance (GEO) No.7/2019 which amends the Justice Laws.
“On 26 February 2019, the General Assembly of prosecutors within the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the Bucharest Court of Appeals, established under Decision No.95/20.02.2019 of the Prosecutors’ Section of the Superior Council of Magistracy [the CSM], with unanimity of votes, decided to stand in solidarity with the actions of the magistrate colleagues – judges and prosecutors, against the adoption of GEO No.7/2019. Moreover, the prosecutors with the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the Bucharest Court of Appeals, unanimously assumed the content of Decision No.95/20.02.2019 of the Prosecutors’ Section of the Superior Council of Magistracy regarding the adoption of GEO No.7/2019,” the release sent to AGERPRES informs.
Moreover, the prosecutors with the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the Bucharest Court of Appeals, including members of the Prosecutors’ Association of Romania, voiced their disagreement related to the standpoint that was publicly expressed by this association regarding the ordinance on Justice Laws.
The prosecutors’ response comes after the Prosecutors’ Association of Romania, headed by Elena Iordache, issued a release on Monday expressing its support regarding GEO No.7/2019, arguing that this ordinance includes the legal provisions which respond to the magistrates’ requests regarding the regulation of the admission conditions in the profession and enforces the Constitutional Court decisions.