Justice laws to be sent in Parliament in two weeks the latest, sources say. US Ambassador-Romanian JusMin row

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The controversial justice laws proposed by Justice minister Tudorel Toader might be sent in Parliament quite soon and even voted next week or in two weeks the latest. Digi24 reported that the information had been confirmed by the Social Democrats attending the party’s National Executive Committee in Sucevita on Friday. Sources from the party revealed that the PSD leaders had agreed on the law package to be immediately sent in Parliament for debates.

The justice law amendments have been slammed by President Klaus Iohannis and US ambassador Hans Klemm once again this week, while the Superior Council of Magistracy has given a negative opinion on the draft.

While in Tallinn on Friday, President Iohannis has stated that the laws must be re-negotiated within the judiciary system, considering that some European leaders had voiced concerned on the evolutions “that might not be in compliance with the rule of law in Romania”.

Klemm-Toader row

Moreover, the US Ambassador to Romania Hans Klemm and Justice minister Tudorel Toader embarked on a row over the ambassador’s latest stance on the amendments. After JusMin reproached the US envoy he is no jurist and he doesn’t know the law mechanisms in Romania, Klemm retorted that even if he is not a jurist, he has training on economics and he can opine on facts and statistics, while reiterating that the current amendments on the justice laws might draw Romania back on judiciary matters.

He (editor note: Justie minister Toader) is correct, I don’t have formal legal training. However, I have formal training in economics, I base my work on facts and statistics. Our concern about the progress of the rule of law in Romania is not based on feelings or on the lack of knowledge about what happened in Romania. Progress has been achieved in Romania, regarding the fight against corruption, regarding its efforts to ensure independent judiciary, regarding its work to consolidate its institutions of democratic governance and also the rule of law is very much appreciated by the United States. This progress can be quantified. The World Bank for example maintains indicators on governance for every country that’s part of the World Bank, including Romania. If you look at their world governance indicators – there’s six of them, but two of them have direct bearing on this question – one of them monitor the corruption and one of them monitor the rule of law. If you look at the WB statistics, over the period 2004-2015, Romania’s position on control of corruption has increased by 20%, on strengthening the rule of law it has increased by 30%. That’s the World Bank. In addition, Transparency International (…) that conducts annual surveys about the perception people have regarding corruption in their country, in the same time period 2004-2017, Romania’s rank jumped 30 places during this time, it improved 30 places. There are only two or three other countries that had a similar increase. This is a quantification of the substantial improvement in Romania’s fighting against corruption and the strengthening the rule of law. What concerns the United States is if proposals currently under consideration would return Romania, would return the judicial institutions to the point when it was doing far less well in terms of corruption and the rule of law,” Ambassador Klemm retorted on Friday in an interview to Agerpres.

Minister Toader had stated that “the US ambassador is no jurist” to voice stances on the Romanian justice system. “On the other hand, he doesn’t know the rule of law mechanisms in Romania, the architecture of the Romanian authorities and I think it’s difficult to integrate an amendment proposal in a legislative framework you don’t know”, Toader told Antena 3.

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