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Bucharest
October 25, 2020
JUSTICE

Protest at Bucharest Tribunal against the Gov’t emergency ordinance No. 7: All cases, except for emergencies, to be postponed for a week

The General Assembly of the judges with the Bucharest Tribunal decided on Wednesday that all the cases pending before this court, except for urgent cases, be postponed between February 28 and March 7, as a protest against the adoption by the Government of the Emergency Ordinance (OUG) 7 on the laws of justice.

According to a press release of the Bucharest Tribunal, the judges request: the repeal of OUG 7; the Ombudsman to notify the Constitutional Court of the unconstitutionality of four emergency ordinances (OUG 77/2018, OUG 90/2018, OUG 92/2018 and OUG 7/2019); the immediate resumption by the Superior Council of Magistrates (CSM) of the genuine character of a collegiate body and the cessation of the issuance of press releases by the President of the Council; the cessation of the attacks by political actors on the rule of law and magistrates; the simplification of the evaluation of the CSM members’ activity and of the procedure for their revocation; the suspension of the activity of the judiciary crime investigation section pending the ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union on the provisional measures requested in Case C-127/19.

The judges of the Bucharest Tribunal adopted a statement of principle regarding the situation the judiciary has been facing lately, and this statement is due to be displayed on the courtrooms’ doors and published on the court’s website.

The magistrates decided to postpone the cases pending before the courts, between February 28 – March 7, except for urgent cases, and the program with the public and of the court sessions is to be held as usual.

In addition, it was decided to notify the Superior Council of Magistrates as to the need for adoption of urgent measures for the enforcement of the legal provisions regarding the compulsory occupational pension of judges and prosecutors, as well as the referral to the CSM and the Ministry of Justice regarding the need to allocate the material and human resources appropriate for the carrying out under optimum conditions of the judicial activity at the Bucharest Tribunal.

“The judges of the Bucharest Tribunal show that justice as a public service cannot function without the allocation of an appropriate budget meant to ensure decent conditions for the conduct of the judicial proceedings.The Magistrates of the Bucharest Tribunal call on the Minister of Justice to present a detailed and assumed answer by 01.06.2019, given his quality of authority with legislative initiative and main authorizing officer,” the Bucharest Tribunal states.

Magistrates also call for the repeal of OUG 7/2019, except for the regulation on access to and promotion in the profession.

The statement of principle contains the following provisions:

* “Urgent ratification of Protocol No. 16 to the Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, whose text was adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 10 July 2013 and opened for signing on 2 October 2013 in Strasbourg. Protocol 16 provides for the possibility for the Highest courts and tribunals of a High Contracting Party may request the Court to give advisory opinions on questions of principle relating to the interpretation or application of the rights and freedoms defined in the Convention or the protocols thereto.

* Taking positive legislative or administrative measures to immediately suspend the implementation of the provisions of the laws of justice and the subsequent emergency ordinances criticized by the European Commission, the Venice Commission and GRECO, reviewing these normative acts after a real consultation with the judiciary, taking into account the issues raised by the entities mentioned;

* The adoption of measures of the kind previously mentioned in order to suspend the activity of the the judiciary crime Investigation Section until the President of the Court of Justice of the European Union rules on the provisional measures requested in Case C-127/19, the Romanian Judges’ Forum Association and the Movement for the Defence of the Prosecutors’ Statutes, and the temporary return to the shared competence of the prosecutors’ offices structures depending on the object of the crimes (DNA [the National Anticorruption Directorate] with respect to corruption, DIICOT [the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism] as regards organized crime, non-specialized prosecutors’ offices for common law offenses, etc.), so as to thus observe the system of checks and balances, specific to any democratic state;

* The initiation of the legislative procedures by the right holders in order to amend Law no. 90/2001 for express and imperative conditionality of the Government’s right to legislate by emergency ordinances in the field of the laws of justice and of all organic laws on the judiciary, after having obtained the assent from the Superior Council of Magistrates or after the granting of a reasonable time for issuance thereof;

* To carry out all legal proceedings by the Ombudsman Institution aimed at notifying the Constitutional Court as to the provisions of OUG 77/2018, OUG 90/2018, OUG 92/2018 and OUG 7/2019, its role being extremely active in the defense of the rule of law as well as the international commitments made to this effect by the Romanian State, as held by the Venice Commission;

* Observing the competencies and roles of each Section of the Superior Council of Magistrates and involving the Plenary in all decisions concerning the entire judiciary according to the Constitution, the immediate recovery by the Superior Council of Magistrates of the genuine character of a collegiate body and the cessation of the issuance of press releases by the President of the CSM or by groups of members, meant to facilitate the taking over of the message of a part of the media as coming from the institution itself;

* The immediate cessation of attacks by political or associates on the rule of law and the status of Romanian judges and prosecutors, the cessation of actions that intimidate judges and prosecutors and affect the independence of the judiciary;

* Fast-track fulfillment by the Superior Council of Magistrates of the power to take immediate measures to provide adequate support to all magistrates;

* The implementation of annual evaluation criteria by the magistrates’ body of the current activity performed by the members of the Superior Council of Magistrates, as well as revision of the procedure for their revocation by simplifying it and eliminating the competencies of the Judicial Inspection in the revocation procedure.

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