More than 900 Romanian magistrates signed by Monday evening, May 21, a “resolution for defending the rule of law,” a document made public by the Forum of Judges in Romania and initiated on Saturday during a protest staged in front of the Palace of Justice, attended by more than a hundred judges and prosecutors, local News.ro reported.
The magistrates said they adopted this resolution amid the recent public developments on amending the laws of justice, which seriously jeopardize the independence of the judiciary and the course of the Romanian state within the European Union and the Council of Europe. They also said that the overwhelming majority of Romanian judges and prosecutors didn’t accept the draft laws on the activity of the judiciary, the magistrates' opinion being ignored.
The Romanian magistrates also noted the statements of the justice minister and of the representatives of the legislative power, which they say minimize the report of the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body. They also said that the legislative proposals that are currently under public debate represent an involution in the creation of a modern criminal justice system adapted to the new social realities, as well as a distortion of the purpose of the criminal process and the state’s criminal policy.
They also remind of the unprecedented attacks on numerous judges and prosecutors who are also involved in cases of high corruption, as well as the most important state institutions, with a defense and public security role, including the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA). Also, the magistrates said the minister of justice is allowed to publicly attack all the DNA prosecutors, speculating that they manage evidence in violation of the law.
The resolution also comprises 11 demands, such as the immediate cessation of attacks on the rule of law and on the judges and prosecutors in Romania, the urgent consultation of the Venice Commission on current issues aimed at amending the Criminal Codes and the postponement of all decisions in this sense until the Venice Commission gives its notice, and the real consultation of the magistrates' body on the legislative packages concerning their activity.
The Romanian Parliament passed three important justice laws at the end of last year, which were challenged at the Constitutional Court. The court ruled that all three of them had provisions that were not constitutional. The laws were once again passed by the Parliament in an accelerated procedure at the end of March this year.
In early-May, president Klaus Iohannis announced he decided to send the justice laws to the Constitutional Court and to notify the Venice Commission for an opinion on these laws. He urged the Constitutional Court not to rush its conclusions on these laws and cooperate with the Venice Commission on assessing the provisions included in them.
GRECO concluded in its latest country report that Romania has reversed the fight against corruption in the past year. Moreover, another GRECO report made after an ad-hoc evaluation mission at the beginning of this year, expressed deep concern over Romania’s justice reform.
However, justice minister Tudorel Toader told the Parliament earlier this month that GRECO’s report was indicative and that the organization could not impose its rules on the Romanian Parliament. GRECO said that all member countries must implement the recommendations made in evaluation reports.
Irina Marica, [email protected]