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Bucharest
February 26, 2020
JUSTICE

President Iohannis attends CSM plenary meeting convened to elect its new leadership: Even if assault on justice has been temporarily stopped, the wrong must be righted

President Klaus Iohannis has stated on Tuesday that even if the assault on justice has been temporarily stopped “the wrong that was done must be righted as soon as possible.”

“Even if the assault on justice has been temporarily stopped, the wrong that was done must be righted as soon as possible. This process obviously implies the real involvement of the CSM [the Supreme Council of Magistracy],” Iohannis stated at the CSM plenary meeting where the institution’s new leadership was to be elected.

He argued that 2019 would remain in the collective memory as the year when the citizens protected, through their vote within the referendum of 26 May, the independence of Justice and its good functioning against some systematic demarches “of weakening” the judiciary.

“Although the year started on the same tense note, with a judicial system in the defensive, confronted with extensive legislative amendments and with the imminent entry into force of an extremely contested criminal legislation, the result of the referendum of May forced the political decision-makers to reconsider their actions,” President Iohannis added.

The head of state brought to mind that, in the virtue of his constitutional role, he acted every time when there was an attempt to destabilise the justice system.

“I used all the constitutional means to remove the controversial provisions of the Justice Laws, including calling on the expertise of the Venice Commission, I stopped the entry into force of the harmful amendments, that lacked a solid substantiation brought to the criminal legislation, I opposed the endangerment of the proper functioning of the Prosecutors’ Offices, in view of the appointments and dismissals of high-ranking prosecutors at the helm these institutions. I organized a large debate on the issue of the situation in Justice, with the participation of representatives of the judicial authority and judges’, prosecutors’ professional associations. In view of implementing the recommendations of the European institutions, I organised consultations with the political parties and I initiated the agreement for the continuation of Romania’s European journey. Furthermore, by addressing directly to every new generation of magistrates with the message that they join a professional body with a mission loaded with a lot of responsibility, which also entails a adequate conscience and morality, I reiterated year after year the confidence in the justice system and my support for the entire body of magistrates. In relation with the CSM, I assumed a partnership in strengthening the European values and I acted as a firm supporter of an independent Justice and in favour of continuing the fight against corruption, Iohannis said, according to Agerpres.

In his view, “the institutions shouldn’t be personalised and identified with the image of the leader at any given time, because the institutions do not belong to the leaders,” and, in this way,” we can elude slippages and manipulations, dangerous and undemocratic situations.”

“Internal tensions, vanity or personal interests should always come second when we are called to contribute to the democratic development of the Romanian stated. The instruments which the CSM has at its disposal become efficient only when, behind decisions and standpoints of the guarantor for justice independence, there is a wide consensus and a real support, not just a declarative one of the guiding principles. (…) In a collegiate body, such as the CSM, the differences of opinions over topics put up for debate, diametrically opposed views and sometimes even singular, separate opinions on how to solve various problems may seem natural. However, the Romanian society, in general, and, especially, the judicial system expect from those called to guarantee Justice independence a mature, wiser approach, in good faith and which lacks partisanship. In this regard, keeping the independence and magistrates’ professional conscience, but also that of the CSM members is essential,” Klaus Iohannis highlighted.

He pointed out that this year both in the public perception and within the professional body, some of the CSM decisions, in the plenary or in sections, seemed contradictory, while others were strongly contested even by some members.

“The Council activity has many times an important technical component. The functioning manner of the Council has sometimes raised signs of concern, from the way the views are expressed, to the dysfunctionalities of organizing the meetings and to the lack of predictability of their set out, with direct consequences on the quality of the debates and the fairness of the adopted solutions. From this perspective, working mechanisms are needed to ensure a coherent and responsible approach, including in public communication. A strained relationship in the CSM or with magistrates or other public authorities firstly brings disservices to the judicial system,” the head of state also said.

According to him, a proper functioning of the CSM entails predictability in the decision-making process, mutual respect and the attenuation of possible divergences.

“Only in this way, the standpoints of the Supreme Council of Magistracy and the demarches to ensure the independence of Justice can enjoy a greater credibility in the relation with other authorities, among magistrates and, at the same time, in citizens’ eyes,” the President added.

“By refraining from my involvement in discussions I want to give an additional signal that no politician, not even the most elected one in Romania, should interfere in the internal affairs of the CSM and Justice, as such I will withdraw,” Iohannis concluded.

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