President Klaus Iohannis attended the presentation of the High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ)’s 2019 activity report, on Wednesday, stating that, despite the challenges, Romania has taken “huge steps” with regard to independent justice.
“Through the powers conferred to us by the Fundamental Law, we are called to contribute to the democratic development of Romania. Despite all the challenges, the huge steps Romania has taken in the direction of an independent, functional and modern justice, a justice aligned with the European values, are indisputable. And the High Court of Cassation and Justice and the judges, in general, have played a decisive role. We certainly do not have to stop here, because this whole process is a continuous one, the result of a common effort that needs commitment, involvement, consistency and courage, as well as inspiring moral leaders,” said the head of state.
He pointed out that the mission of the judiciary is that of public service, which is why legislation and the way it works must have the citizen and his defense of abuse at its center.
“A society develops and reaches its potential when citizens are protected and they know that whenever their rights and freedoms are endangered, they will find their justice in the courts,” Iohannis said.
The head of state welcomed the fact that the Supreme Court presented its annual report in an open manner.
“Pointing out the real problems facing the judiciary is not only for the benefit of the courts’ activity, but, finally, of the litigant. I therefore encourage a consistent, coherent and unitary involvement, by observing the powers conferred by the Constitution, of all the actors involved in the judicial system and of the High Court of Cassation and Justice, as an authority at the top of the hierarchy of courts,” said Iohannis.
In recent years, he said, the Romanian justice system has been subjected to attempts of subordination to politicians, adding that society has responded in such situations.
“These are major gains for Romania, which we have an obligation to protect and strengthen. The independence of the judiciary, the creation of a fair and predictable legislative framework are desiderata we should follow relentlessly, regardless of difficulties,” the president said.
The head of state indicated that the high volume of activity of the High Court, the complexity of the files, the legislative instability or the political pressures were some of the constant challenges that the magistrates have faced during the last years.
“The efforts already made by the High Court of Cassation and Justice to make its own jurisprudence more accessible are certainly a very important step in preventing the litigation,” said Iohannis.
He appreciated, however, that the public agenda was occupied with topics that rarely touched on the underlying issues in the judicial system, which would have required settled discussions and effective solutions.
“A better society is built on the basis of a solid foundation, and this foundation is the confidence of the citizens in the values of the rule of law, in that the law – as a result of expressing the sovereign will of the citizens through the elected authorities – is equal for all. Confidence in the state, in justice, in public institutions is, in fact, the binder of the entire society. The perception on the functioning of the justice system takes shape through every interaction of citizens with the latter, which is why a constant and honest dialogue between the judicial system, citizens, but also other public actors is more than necessary,” President Iohannis said.
He concluded that he is a staunch supporter of an independent and efficient justice.