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Romania makes no progress in addressing judicial overhaul issues - Venice Commission

Romania makes no progress in addressing judicial overhaul issues - Venice Commission Justice

BUCHAREST (Romania), June 25 (SeeNews) - The Venice Commission, an advisory body of the Council of Europe, said the Romanian authorities have made no progress in changing their controversial reforms of the judicial system since October.

"The Venice Commission notes with regret that the most problematic elements of the 2018 reform, identified in the opinion of October 2018, either remained unchanged or were aggravated," the Venice Commission said in a final opinion on amendments to Romanian laws concerning the judiciary on Monday.

Most alarmingly, the Commission adds, the government continues to make legislative amendments by emergency ordinances.

"While the Constitution clearly indicates that this should be an exceptional measure, legislation by the GEOs became a routine".

Also, the reasons for the creation of the special section for the investigation of criminal offences in the judiciary with loosely defined jurisdiction, remain unclear. Moreover, the scheme of appointment and dismissal of the top prosecutors remains essentially the same, with the justice ministry playing a decisive role in this process, without counterbalancing powers of president or the Superior Council of Magistrates (SCM)

"It is recommended to develop an appointment scheme which would give the prosecutors’ section of the SCM a key and pro-active role in the process of the appointment of candidates to any top position in the prosecution system," the Venice Commission said.

The Commission underlined that it is possible to remove currently serving prosecutors with reference to the new eligibility criteria, arbitrarily chosen. The institution urged the Romanian authorities not to apply the new eligibility criteria to those prosecutors who were already in place when the respective amendments were made.

Romania's president Klaus Iohannis asked the government in a statement on Tuesday to dismantle the special section for investigating magistrates as soon as possible and implement the recommendations of the Venice Commission.

In October, the Venica Commission recommended that Romania re-assess draft amendments to the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code.