Venice Commission: RO Justice Laws have positive elements and can be improved, but what matters is how they are used
The Venice Commission, in its urgent opinion on the so-called Justice Laws recently promulgated by Romania's President Klaus Iohannis, notes several positive elements. First of all, it says that there currently does not seem to be political interference in the work of the anticorruption directorate DNA, but also notes that the recommendations of the March 2022 opinion (including on DNA) have not been followed and makes four main recommendations for amending the laws.
The three laws, namely on the Status of Magistrates, the Organisation of the Judiciary, and the Superior Council of Magistracy, were subject to criticism from the opposition primarily because they allegedly leave the door open for political control over head prosecutors and give excessive powers to head prosecutors in overruling prosecutors' investigations.
In this regard, the Venice Commission recommends that high-ranking prosecutors, including the General Prosecutor, as well as the Chief Prosecutors of the DNA and the DIICOT and their deputies, should be appointed for longer periods and without the possibility of renewal.
Separately, the General Prosecutor should not be able to bypass the prosecutorial hierarchy when they find prosecutorial measures unlawful or unfounded. Such a finding should be passed down through the hierarchy of prosecutors.
The Venice Commission stressed that great importance has to be attached to the implementation conditions of these texts.
"It is essential that all actors relevant to the Romanian judiciary (judges, prosecutors, the Minister of Justice and the President of the Republic) work together in a spirit of loyal cooperation in order to ensure that justice is appropriately applied in Romania," the Commission said.
The Romanian Ministry of Justice said, in response to Venice Commission's opinion, that it would "carefully and openly analyse" the recommendations, News.ro reported.
Minister Cătălin Predoiu thanked the Commission's experts for their openness to issue the preliminary opinion. "Important provisions of the Justice laws were validated by this opinion, which finds that they observe the European standards," the he said.
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