The Government has adopted the emergency ordinance on amending and completing the justice laws on Monday, the Justice minister Tudorel Toader announced after the Government sitting, although some Social Democrat had voiced criticism against the ordinance.
„Update: GEO on justice laws adopted. JusMin: Amendments are good for the judiciary. PM: Abuses will be not tolerated. Criticism from the Opposition correlate the provisions to include some of the Venice Commission’s recommendations, the Government has adopted the emergency ordinance. I consider the amendments will be beneficial to seeing justice done for the citizens,” minister Toader said.
He denied he would have gone to the Venice Commission to negotiate the terms in the GEO, or to take their approval for it.
In her turn, PM Dancila stated that the ordinance had been discussed with the Venice Commission representatives and also within the meeting with the EC first vice-president Frans Timmermans.
The premier also said the emergency ordinance is correlating certain provisions for a better judiciary practice.
„Justice must be a guarantee of defending the Romanians’ rights, while abuses in the act of justice are not and will not be tolerated”, Dancila said.
What are the main amendments?
The GEO includes such new provisions as the assignment of the prosecutors or that the Justice minister is allowed to notify the Judiciary Inspectorate.
“The seniority for the magistrates increases, for those aspiring for the positions of Prosecutor General and for the top positions of DNA and DIICOT, the minimum seniority is 15 years. So, it increased from 8 to 15 years,” JusMin said.
At the same time, if one wants to be a prosecutor within DNA or DIICOT he or she has to have a ten-year seniority. The provision is controversial, as many of the current anti-corruption or anti-organized crime prosecutors don’t have such a seniority and it could affect ongoing files.
Another amendment refers to the appointment of the high ranking officials. Thus, the ordinance introduces interviews broadcast live for the chief prosecutors, which will be archived and anyone can see them.
As for the assignments of the prosecutors, the novelty is that the Prosecutor General will not be the one to decide the assignments, but the Prosecutor Department within the Superior Council of Magistracy.
The emergency ordinance also refers to the delay of the magistrates’ early retirement. If the initial version of the GEO proposed the delay until December 31, 2022, the form adopted by the Executive today hold the delay only by the end of 2019.
Another amendments relates to the appeals that will be judged by a three-judge panel, but this provision will be also enforced as of 2020, as there is already a deficit of judges in the system.
Criticism from outside…
Former Justice Minister, MEP Monica Macovei, has slammed the GEO adopted on Monday, warning over the new provision that the Justice minister, politically nominated, can notify the Judiciary Directorate again on the prosecutors’ activity.
“The Government controlled by Dragnea is amending the justice laws, far away from the public view, without opinions and public debate. Toader has announced he had re-introduced in the law the provision that the Justice minister can notify the Judiciary Directorate on the prosecutors’ activity. Why does Toader want that prosecutors should be investigated upon a politician’s request? Why do prosecutors have to be exposed to blackmail, ending up in the hands of a politically named minister?” Macovei commented on Facebook.
Some Social Democrat leaders have also voiced discontent with the GEO.
One of the Dragnea’s contenders, Adrian Tutuianu thinks the GEO should have been discussed in the party first.
“I want to see the ordinance first. I haven’t seen it (…) I think it should have been discussed inside the party first, especially the justice laws topic has been on the table for 2 years. To come with a GEO this way, very quickly…”, Tutuianu said.
In his turn, the leader of the PSD senators, Serban Nicolae stated the “most flagrant provisions” had disappeared from the GEO, yet adding there are still some provisions that “require a more in-depth justification”.
Opposition slams the GEO
PNL chairman Ludovic Orban has stated that the GEO amending the justice laws is misinforming the public opinion and the European bodies, accusing Tudorel Toader that he is “the criminals’ minister”, and “a political tool of Dragnea and Tariceanu”.
“The GEO is misinforming that it contains the Venice Commission’s recommendations. Out of 9 recommendations only two are observed, the one related to the magistrates’ early retirement, where the deadline for implementation is just advanced from 2022 to 2019 and the right to vote of the civil society’s representatives in the Superior Council of Magistracy. Other extremely important stances underlined by the Venice Commission, such as the balanced role of the Romanian President, of CSM and of the Justice minister in naming prosecutor, or the circumstances in which the special department can sanction the felonies committed by judges and prosecutors, are not considered at all,” Orban stated.
In its turn, Save Romania Union (USR) has accused Justice minister Toader that he has followed “a new order from Dragnea who had asked that young magistrates should be banned from top positions, especially at DNA.”
“Dragnea needs dutiful prosecutors at the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA),” USR says, explaining that, as a proof, Toader has chosen Adina Florea for the DNA’s helm, detrimental to a younger prosecutor from Constanta who had results and distinguished himself through the files against Radu Mazare and Nicusor Constantinescu.
USR has also slammed the article through which the Justice minister can start disciplinary actions against prosecutors. “Initially, in the GEO draft the minister could notify the Judiciary Directorate also against judges, but he changed his mind meanwhile. Again, Tudorel Toader is putting pressure on the prosecutors!“, USR deputy Stelian Ion said.