The new emergency ordinance (OUG) adopted by the Romanian government on Tuesday, February 19, which brings new changes to the justice system, was harshly criticized by the president, the opposition, and several associations of magistrates. On the other hand, ruling coalition leader Liviu Dragnea believes the OUG was necessary.
President Klaus Iohannis, who has been one of the most open critics of the justice changes implemented or announced so far by the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD), said that PSD, through this new OUG, has once again acted “against justice and the rule of law, against Romania and the citizens.”
“The PSD Government wants to create emergency ordinances with a special status for those who have legal problems. Both the Romanians and the European leaders know that there is no other justification for the obsession to weaken the Romanian justice besides personal interests,” Iohannis said in a Facebook post.
Meanwhile, the Romanian Judges Forum Association, the Movement for Defending of Prosecutors' Status Association and the Initiative for Justice Association expressed their “deep concern” about the amendments to the justice laws made through an emergency ordinance adopted "without ensuring decisional transparency,” local News.ro reported. They also warned that these changes would lead to institutional blockages, affecting the capacity of the Public Ministry to exercise its constitutional powers.
The three associations also urged president Iohannis to ask the Venice Commission’s opinion on this new OUG, and the Ombudsman to notify the Constitutional Court.
Moreover, the National Liberal Party (PNL), the main opposition party in Romania, also criticized the government for adopting this OUG, saying that this move, made in complete disagreement with the recommendations of the European Commission, the Venice Commission and GRECO, is an act of irresponsibility bordering madness, according to News.ro. PNL also said that the new changes “are made with dedication, to finally achieve the political control pursued by PSD-ALDE over the General Prosecutor's Office and the National Anticorruption Directorate.”
The new electoral alliance, made up of opposition parties USR and PLUS, also joined the list of those criticizing the new justice amendments, saying that these will force Romania out of the European Union.
“The ordinance severely affects the independence of the judiciary and the separation of powers in the state. The effect of this OUG is the subordination of prosecutors and the seizure of institutions fighting corruption,” the alliance said on Facebook.
Meanwhile, PSD leader Liviu Dragnea, said he didn’t new the government was planning to adopt the OUG in its Tuesday meeting, but added that he had read it and believes such an ordinance was necessary, local Digi24 reported. He also argued that the ordinance respected the principle of transparency: "That's why it's an emergency ordinance, to be adopted quickly."
Justice minister Tudorel Toader announced on Tuesday that the government adopted two emergency ordinances on justice. One of them, which is also the most criticized, changes the rules for naming top prosecutors and gives more independence to the special section for investigating magistrates.
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