Update: DNA, Prosecutor General reject most proposals to amend the Justice laws: It is a form of pressure

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The general assembly of the anti-corruption prosecutors was brought forward, being held on Monday instead of Wednesday to review the amendments on the justice laws tabled by the Justice Minister last week. Anti-corruption prosecutors rejected most of the proposals, arguing they represent a type of pressure on their professional activity.

The National Anti-corruption Directorate says the general assembly meeting had been advanced after Romania’s Prosecutor General had also called on summoning the prosecutor’s offices general assemblies to review the justice law amendments.

The vote cast by the DNA prosecutors revealed the current amendments of the justice laws represent a type of pressure on the anti-corruption prosecutors’ professional activity, reads a DNA press release.

More precisely, the prosecutors have unanimously vetoed most the Justice minister Tudorel Toader’s proposals.

According to the source, “the vote expressed by the prosecutors participating in the General Assembly regarding the discussed proposals has highlighted that the amendments to the laws of Justice in the current form represent a form of pressure on the professional activity of the DNA prosecutors.”

Prosecutors unanimously rejected the move of the Judicial Inspection under the authority of the Justice Ministry, which, in their view, is “likely to prejudice the magistrates’ independence.”

Also rejected was the “unjustified amendment to the current legal framework includes enough provisions on material liability of judges and prosecutors. In regard to this point, it has been stressed that the current legislation contains sufficient provisions on the liability of magistrates in case of bad faith, and the ministry’s proposal is unclear as to the conditions of liability, and there is no substantiation or analysis to show that the current legislation on magistrates’ liability needs to be amended,” DNA says.

The quoted source mentions that the establishment of a specialized directorate within the Public Ministry for the prosecution of crimes committed by magistrates was rejected “as no justification has been presented,” as well as the introduction of conditions regarding the minimum age of 30 years and at least 5 years of actual work for candidates to the National Institute of Magistracy, which, according to the DNA, “does not correspond to the social realities and will make it difficult to recruit sufficient number of well-trained and integrated future magistrates.”

It was rejected also the introduction of the condition of 15 years of effective seniority in the position of prosecutor for promotion to the Prosecutor General’s Office upon the High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ – Supreme Court), “considered excessive in relation to the current structure of the magistrate body,” as well as the proposal aiming the fact that judges and prosecutors may take part in the competition in order to acquire higher professional status, but in all cases, the wage rights will be paid according to the position on which they are actually working, “which lacks content the concept of immediate promotion.”

According to the DNA, the following proposals were dismissed by large majority: the appointment procedure in the management positions at the Public Ministry, on which the judicial system proposed a procedure similar to that for the appointment of the president of the High Court of Cassation and Justice; increasing the seniority to 8 years as a prosecutor to be appointed to DIICOT and DNA, which is not based on an analysis of the human resources experience acquired during the operation of the two specialized structures and does not correspond to a need identified by the management; increasing the seniority required to promote to 7 years effective seniority as prosecutor for promotion to the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the court and to 10 years for promotion to the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the Court of Appeal, “arbitrarily established levels that do not correspond to the specific attributions which these positions entail,” the communiqué reads.

However, the majority of the prosecutors have voted have in favour of the proposals regarding the extension of the four-year term in office, a proposal that does not apply to the current mandates, as well as the elimination of the possibility of re-hiring pensioners in the position of judge or prosecutor in the courts and prosecutor’s offices where they worked until the date of retirement, the press release reads.

Early last week, the Justice Minister presented the amendments proposed for the laws on the judges and prosecutors statute, on the Superior Council of Magistracy and on the judicial organization. The most controversial amendment refers to the appointment procedure of the Prosecutor General and of DNA, DIICOT chief prosecutors. More precisely, President Klaus Iohannis has been cut out from this procedure.

Prosecutor General: Independence of Justice is damaged

Romanian Attorney General Augustin Lazar has criticized on Tuesday the measures to amend the Laws of Justice, pointing out that they damage the independence of Justice and that “we would return in time.”

“Currently we do not have any draft law for the Laws of Justice. We can say that we have a coherent message, saying that prosecutors have not undertaken the law proposals presented by the Justice Minister, because they damage the justice independence. The Justice Minister is politically appointed and would ensure full control over the magistrates. This was the case before 2004, when the new Laws of Justice were issued, when we were getting prepared to have the necessary standards to join the European Union. We would turn back in time quite a bit and it is not good,” Augustin Lazar said on Tuesday after the Plenary Session of the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM), ziare.com reports.

He added that his colleagues “hope this was just a test on the market of ideas in Romania and that such ideas would never be enforced. Shortly, the synthesis of our debates will be handed to the minister, who is waiting for our suggestions.”

Lazar said these are just ideas, “principles which, if enforced, would do harm to Romania, after so many years after joining the European Union.”

He said that, after a 35-year long career as magistrate, nothing similar has taken place. “We would have preferred to have draft bills instead,” the Prosecutor General said.

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