Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar has said on Friday that magistrates are determined to defend the independence of Justice and are preparing legal levers to counter what is going on in Parliament, as the political power is amending the Laws of Justice.
Asked by a journalist, if prosecutors have legal levers to defend themselves against the assault against justice, Lazar replied: “We have, but we do not announce them, all at the right time, we prepare them.”
The statement was made Friday morning at the Prosecutor General’s Office and was broadcast by Realitatea TV.
“It is obvious that we are concerned, the Public Ministry is concerned and I see that the civil society is concerned about everything that is going on. We are determined to maintain our statute and to defend the independence that the magistrates, the prosecutors have had so far,” Augustin Lazar said, who on Thursday had two similar interventions criticizing what is happening in Parliament with the Laws of Justice.
“Step by step, everything that is ongoing is done in such a way that it does not strengthen the independence of the prosecutor as part of the magistrates’ independence, but obviously weaken it, in view of placing it under control and then clearly there will be a problem with the independence of the judiciary,” Lazar explained.
“Throughout 2017, the Public Ministry and in general the justice institutions have been the subject of concentric attacks. I used the term ‘harassed’ because I found it in the Geneva report, which reads that “’the DNA prosecutors are harassed by media campaigns, being summoned to special committees.’ But who summoned them? Some high-ranking culprits, who want the talks to take place in an environment other than the judiciary. The prosecutors are invited to report to an environment that is not judicial. I have used this phrase because it is used not only by the editor of this report, but we see it through media attacks and other acts that are obviously unfriendly to prosecutors, such as taking out the word ‘independent’ from the text of the law on statute and which, in a subtle but dubious manner, obviously wanted to remove the statute of the prosecutor away from the statute of magistrate and to shift it to the area of the Executive,” Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar said on Friday.
The Prosecutor General added that it is mandatory “without any doubt” to consult the Venice Commission before any decision is made to amend the Laws of Justice, but “there was no interest from those who want to promote these laws, because it would take a while and would spoil their plans.”
The special parliamentary committee set up to amend the justice laws has Okayed Thursday afternoon the establishment of a department “to investigate the corruption crimes in the judiciary system”, with opposition parties PNL and USR vetoing it.
According to the amendment unanimously voted by the PSD-ALDE majority in the committee, the department to investigate crimes committed by magistrates is set up and will function within the General Prosecutor’s Office upon the High Court of Cassation and Justice and will “have the exclusive authority to carry out criminal prosecution for corruption crimes or related to the abuse of office committed by judges and prosecutors, including for the ones who are members of the Superior Council of Magistracy, as well as military judges and prosecutors.”
This means that the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) will no longer have attributions in this field.
Representatives of the National Liberal Party (PNL) and Save Romania Union (USR) had strongly opposed the department, arguing that, therefore, the DNA’s authority is shrunk.