RO justice minister still seeks ways to dismantle controversial prosecution body SIIJ
Romanian reformist (USR PLUS) minister of justice Stelian Ion came up with yet another proposal for the ruling coalition in regard to how to dismantle the special prosecution body SIIJ, mainly blamed for political bias since it was set up and populated during the Social Democratic Party’s ruling.
The ruling coalition, where USR PLUS is only one of the two junior partners, failed so far to reach an agreement on this measure - which was high on the agendas of all the parties in the coalition before last fall’s elections.
In its latest proposal made to the other member of the coalition, published on Facebook, minister Stelian Ion leaves magistrates investigated for their alleged misdeeds, to be examined by prosecution bodies at the same level as their - but in their immediate vicinity, G4media.ro reported.
Unless the defendants exercise this right, their files will be handled by the national anti-corruption directorate.
The dismantling of the SIIJ turned into a key point, and the deadlock in coalition put at risk more important steps such as the reversal of the amendments to the justice laws enacted by the Social Democrats in 2017-2019, some of them much more striking and “controversial” compared to SIIJ.
In fact, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on May 18 released a series of six rulings pertaining to Romania, among others leaving the Romanian authorities to decide on the fate of the SIIJ.
Guidelines are provided for assessing whether the section is in line with the EU laws: whether there is a good reason for setting it up in the first place, and whether it can be kept apart from political influence.
Such topics were never discussed within the ruling coalition or otherwise publicly, other than in terms of politics (as opposed to technical).
The European Commission mentions the CJEU’s May 18 recommendations and invokes a ruling of Pitesti Court of Appeal against SIIJ.
“It is important that the ongoing legal reform in the sense of dismantling the SIIJ and restoring the material competence of the specialized prosecutors’ offices for the ongoing cases is carried out in line with EU law, in particular with the ruling of the Court of Justice of the EU24, and taking into account European standards,” the EC’s 2021 Rule of Law Report reads.