In an opinion adopted during its 2-3 July plenary session, the Venice Commission issues several recommendations to the Romanian authorities concerning the draft law to dismantle the Section for the Investigation of Offences committed within the Judiciary (SIOJ).
The opinion was requested by the Minister of Justice of Romania and covers both the draft law adopted by the government and the amended version adopted by the Chamber of Deputies, which the Senate is now considering.
The Venice Commission welcomes the Romanian authorities’ intention to reform the judiciary, which includes an essential step in dismantling de SIOJ, and encourages them to continue with their broader reform of the judiciary.
Although the Venice Commission criticised the establishment of the SIOJ in two opinions adopted in 2018 and 2019, the opinion issued today underlines that, after three years of conducting cases, dismantling it should not be taken lightly.
Therefore, it makes the following specific recommendations:
- Article 4 of the Amendments of the Chamber of Deputies should be removed since it introduces a new type of inviolability for judges and prosecutors within the framework of a highly sensitive field (criminal prosecution) that goes far beyond functional immunity.
- Article 6 of the Amendments of the Chamber of Deputies should not be pursued. This article provides for a new competence of the Superior Council of the Magistracy (SCM) by giving the relevant section of the SCM the exclusive competence to decide on actions in criminal matters against judges and prosecutors. The Venice Commission considers that criminal proceedings that fall outside the remit of functional immunity should not fall within the competence of the SCM and should be brought directly before the courts of law without the SCM’s prior screening.
- Vexatious complaints, which often are criminal complaints, by private individuals against judges and prosecutors should be dealt with by the ordinary prosecutorial service and should be regarded as an urgent matter in need of reform.