In a report published today, the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body (GRECO) concludes that Romania’s level of compliance with its recommendations to prevent corruption in respect of MPs, judges and prosecutors remains globally unsatisfactory despite some progress and planned reforms that still are at an early stage.
GRECO concludes that Romania has only fully implemented in total five of 18 recommendations emanating from a 2015 evaluation and from an ad hoc Rule 34 evaluation procedure launched in 2017 on issues related to the judicial reform.
With respect to members of parliament, the level of implementation remains unchanged, except for some procedural requirements with only two of nine recommendations implemented. Given the importance of these recommendations for the prevention of corruption among parliamentarians, GRECO underlines that more determined action is required to implement them.
Concerning corruption prevention in respect of judges and prosecutors, following the heavily criticised reforms of the criminal justice system (2017-2018) in Romania and GRECO’s decision to apply its ad-hoc procedure, GRECO now acknowledges that some measures have been taken and more promising initiatives are underway which have the potential to rectify many of the pending shortcomings.
A promising draft Law on the Status of Romanian Magistrates is underway and currently undergoes public consultation. It envisages a more transparent procedure and more objective evaluation criteria for the appointment of prosecutors to the most senior posts, etc., and also deals with judges’ liability.
A stronger role for the Supreme Council of the Magistracy (SCM) in this process is still required, and the involvement of the executive power, i.e. the Minister of Justice, in the appointment or revocation of the most senior prosecutors should be diminished in order to provide for judicial independence. Likewise, objective and clear criteria, based on merit and qualification, for the promotion of judges and prosecutors to higher positions need to be established.
GRECO also welcomes further strengthening of the supervisory powers of the SCM and of the Judicial Inspectorate and the carrying out of training and awareness-raising initiatives aimed at reinforcing, strengthening judicial integrity and providing for more uniform and swift disciplinary procedures in the judiciary.
GRECO has requested the Romanian authorities to provide an update on measures taken to implement the pending recommendations by 31 March 2022 at the latest.