Ombudsman Renate Weber said on Wednesday, after the Constitutional Court accepted her notification regarding a government emergency ordinance regulating the amount of fines during the state of emergency for the enforcement of the coronavirus lockdown, that she hopes the government will come up with a formula by which to cancel the fines.
“From the outset, we have advised those who had been fined to challenge the fines in court because that is the natural way to go. On the other hand, I now think that, given that there are about 300,000 such of fines – an association of court clerks said that they have already received about a hundred thousand complaints – I think, simply, that we are suffocating the courts and then maybe the government should come up with a formula – I don’t know if amnesty or something else – by which to cancel all these fines, because many may not have challenged them because they did not even know, they are elderly people with little education and no material resources who ended up with huge fines, so that people are not afraid that they can be left without houses, possessions [to cover the fines]; that would be a shame. I hope to see such an action from the Government,” Weber told AGERPRES.
She added that everyone had their own interpretation of the provisions in the military ordinances regarding the enforcement of fines, which she called an unconstitutional aspect.
“I referred to the Constitutional Court on two issues regarding Ordinance 1 of 1999. One issue regarded what we considered to be the possibility for the President to legislate, restricting rights and freedoms. A second aspect regarded the lack of predictability of the wording in Ordinance 1 of 1999 regarding the contraventions, so the conduct that each of us should follow; later this year another ordinance was issued, 34, under which nothing was clarified, but that increased by awfully much both the minimum and the maximum of fines and we considered that in such way we do not respect practically this principle of predictability of the law, that we overturn even the entire legislation on contraventions in Romania. (…) Fines were issued for violations of military ordinances, everyone had their own interpretation of the provisions in the military ordinances regarding the enforcement of fines, which is really unconstitutional in our opinion. And I am glad we won this case before the Constitutional Court, because 300,000 fines of figures that put us in first place in Europe is definitely exaggerated,” Weber explained.
She mentioned that the Ombudsman sent a notification to the Constitutional Court on Wednesday regarding the ordinance regulating the state of alert, because the text is “totally unpredictable.”
PG Scutea expecting huge wave of court complaints against coronavirus lockdown fines
Prosecutor General Gabriela Scutea said on Wednesday that after the state of emergency ceases the judiciary will face a “huge” wave of complaints filed in court by people who were fined for violating military ordinances during the coronavirus lockdown.
“Criminal penalties are separate from contravention penalties. Practically, since 2002, contravention fines can no longer be turned into imprisonment. In court, there will be this wave, which in my assessment will be huge, of complaints against the reports of the contravention penalties,” Scutea told Europa FM private broadcaster.
Asked if people are expected to massively challenge these fines, Scutea said: “Probably, the citizens will challenge the penalties because they are in a higher amount than other fines and you realise that for anyone 2,000 lei is quite a blow.”
Since the beginning of the state of emergency in Romania, more than 300,000 fines were issued to the tune of 600 million lei (120 million euros) for violation of restrictions established under military ordinances, during the state of emergency.
Interior Minister Marcel Vela said on Monday that it is “an obvious thing” that abuses are being made by the police in the case of citizens’ free movement checks and he advised those who feel being unfairly treated to address the control bodies or challenge the fines in court.