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Update: Regional Development Ministry debates draft law allowing convicted persons to be ministers if rehabilitated

The law 90/2001 banning convicted persons to be members of the Government, which prevented PSD chairman Liviu Dragnea to be premier, will be amended so that convicted persons who have been rehabilitated can be part of the Government, as premier or ministers, according to a draft quoted by Hotnews.ro.

At the same time, the Criminal Code says that rehabilitation occurs for sentences up to two years, if the convicted has not committed any other crime for a period of three years. So, Liviu Dragnea could be considered as rehabilitated in 2023.

The draft law allowing Dragnea to be premier or minister is initiated by the Ministry of Regional Development led by Sevil Shaidehh, known as close to Liviu Dragnea.

After the media revealed the Executive’s intention to amend the law 90, the Ministry of Regional Development, which has the draft on its website, claimed that the provision on the convicted persons would only be taken over from a previous draft of the Administrative code initiated by Ciolos Cabinet and said it’s not “an initiative of the current ruling coalition”. Yet, Shaidehh’s ministry doesn’t explain why the Administrative Code’s new draft, containing the controversial provision, hadn’t been put at issue like the rest of the regulatory documents.

However, former PM Dacian Ciolos has promptly retorted, saying his Cabinet hadn’t initiated, hadn’t debated or adopted the Administrative Code, which has been at issue since 2001. “The responsibility for launching the draft law to public debate on November 2016 strictly belongs to the initiator ministry. The Romanian 100 Platform is strongly condemning the action of the ministry led by Mrs. Sevil Shaidehh to misinform the public opinion, with the intention to put the responsibility of this regulatory document and some controversial provisions on the shoulders of other government,” says a press release by Dacian Ciolos’ NGO.

In his turn, Justice minister Tudorel Toader also said that the draft amending the Administrative Code has been on public debate since November 2016, explaining that, even if didn’t stipulate the exception that convicted persons should be allowed to join the Government if rehabilitated, the judicial effect would be the same. Toader argued that only crimes against peace and humankind, such as the ones committed by former torturers, are not prescriptible, but the rest of criminal deeds are prescriptible and the rehabilitation by right is entitled.

Initially, earlier in the day,  the Government denied the draft law, saying PM Mihai Tudose doesn’t intend to amend the Law 90/2001 to allow persons who have been criminally convicted to be part of the Government. “There is no draft law to amend the Law 90/2001 on the premier’s table. All will be transparent, like he has pledged in Brussels, at the meeting with the European leaders,” said the sources.

Profit.ro has previously reported that Tudose Government is preparing a draft law saying that persons who have been sentenced to prison or on probation and who have been rehabilitated can be members of the Executive. The draft bill comes after the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) ruled that the ban on convicted persons to be government members should cease, in accordance with the legal framework in force, in the case of rehabilitation, decriminalisation or amnesty.

The new draft law would say that people “who haven’t had criminal convictions, except when the rehabilitation occurred” can be members of the Government.

The draft says that people meeting the following demands at the same time can be members of the Government: they should have the Romanian citizenship and residence in Romania; they can exert their right to vote and they haven’t had criminal convictions, except for the situation when the rehabilitation occurred.

The Law 90/2001, now repealed, banned PSD chairman Liviu Dragnea to be prime minister, as he has a conviction on probation in the referendum file.

The Ombudsman Victor Ciorbea notified the Constitutional Court over this law on January 5, the second day after the Grindeanu Cabinet had sworn in.

Victor Ciorbea argued back then that the law is discriminating, while denouncing the “lack of predictability of the phrase: has not suffered criminal convictions”.

The CCR ruling on this issue has been postponed four times, with the Court’s president admitting it’s “the toughest” decision to make.

After the general elections last December, PSD leader Liviu Dragnea claimed his party would not take any steps to amend the law, however he mentioned that “it’s the Ombudsman’s decision to challenge the law to the Constitutional Court.” According to Dragnea, the law is not a “restriction of fundamental rights” but it is abolition” for life of the right “to be elected”, arguing that “Government members are voted by Parliament, so they are not elected.”

Before the CCR ruling, Dragnea kept on saying he is not interested in the PM position, and that he further supports PM Grindeanu (now former premier) and the governing programme.

About Alina Grigoras Butu