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Representatives of prosecutors across the country reject Minister’s proposals to amend justice laws

de Mariana Bechir 4.9.2017

Representatives of prosecutors from all over the country have rejected amendments to the justice laws proposed by Minister Tudorel Toader, General Prosecutor Augustin Lazar said after a special session organized for analysing these proposals.

“We have a coherent message – prosecutors have not acknowledged the proposals submitted by the Ministry of Justice because they affect and damage the independence of justice,” said Augustin Lazar, in a press conference.

He expressed his hope that the changes were only a test for the magistrates’ opinion and these ideas, which are a challenge to the prosecutors’ independence, will never be implemented.

The analysis has been made on the proposals regarding the prosecutors, as presented last week by the Justice Minister Tudorel Toader, in the absence of a draft law.

“They are ideas, principles, I do not know how to call them, offers, which, if put into practice, would be bad for the Romanian justice, so many years after the accession to the European Union.

In the opinion of our colleagues, even if we did not have a draft law at hand, we should take attitude because that is a challenge to the prosecutors’ independence. (…)

I have a 35-year long career as a magistrate but that never happened to me before. But we live and learn and should observe what is happening around us, and should not be indifferent. And even if these are just some ideas and they test the idea market with some offers, we must respond,” the Prosecutor General said.

Main objections of prosecutors

Transferring Judicial Inspection to Ministry of Justice

“One of the contested proposals is to transfer the Judicial Inspection from CSM to the Ministry of Justice, bearing in mind that the Minister is appointed based on political criteria and would ensure full control over the magistrates. Such a situation was before 2004 and we are going back in time a lot and that is not good. We need to make sure that the Judicial Inspection remains under the authority of CSM, the guarantor of the independence of justice,” Lazar said.

The main argument is the one already offered by all the critics of this measure – the politicisation of the Inspection because the Minister of Justice is appointed politically.

CSM is the guarantor of the independence of justice and MCV’s recommendations include one about ensuring the Judicial Inspection’s independence, the Prosecutor General added.

Appointments to leading positions in prosecutor’s offices

Prosecutors also disagree with the change in procedures that removes the President of Romania from this mechanism, as MCV recommended that these appointments should be made in a similar way to those in the High Court of Cassation and Justice.

The procedure proposed by Tudorel Toader, as Augustin Lazar explained, “limits the possibility for CSM to select (the heads of the prosecutor’s offices, the general prosecutor, the head of DNA and the head of the DIICOT – editor’s note) other persons from the candidates than those proposed by the minister. It would be a situation that would not favour the independence of a magistrate,” the Prosecutor General said.

Specialized directorate for investigating magistrates’ criminal offenses

This proposal would mean a return to what happened 30 – 40 years ago when the Communist Party set up a Special Investigation Bureau.

“Nobody has ever heard of such a thing since 30 – 40 years ago. We cannot imagine that the hundreds of thousands of complaints against magistrates currently processed at the Prosecutors’ Offices attached to the Courts of Appeal should reach the General Prosecutor’s Office, as it was 40 years ago. I suspect that this proposal comes clearly from the outside (…) to take that from the activity of DNA, which does a work that generates results and make some experiment. That is not okay,” said Augustin Lazar.

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