Speaker of the Deputies' Chamber and Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) Liviu Dragnea and President of the Senate and Chairman of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) Calin Popescu-Tariceanu said in a joint letter addressed to officials of the European Commission (EC) that the concerns voiced by those regarding the lack of transparency and broader consensus in the debate on the Justice Laws, but also regarding the amendment to Criminal codes, "are at least surprising."
In the quoted document, the two Romanian political leaders bring to mind that the previous Government led by Dacian Ciolos amended the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code through emergency ordinance.
"In this context, the concerns expressed by the Commission are at least surprising, especially given that the Commission didn't show its concern for transparency and consensus when the previous government, led by Mr Dacian Ciolos amended, on 18 May 2016, 13 articles of the Criminal Code and 101 articles of the Criminal Procedure Code, through emergency ordinance, without any public debate and the agreement or, at least, consultation of the Superior Council of Magistrates [CSM] and professional associations of the area. For this reason, the diametrically opposed difference in the attitude of the Commission's representatives in two essential moments regarding the debates of Romania on Justice theme can only be attributed to the way in which the Commission was informed by various sources of the Romanian environment," the letter reveals.
The quoted document mentions that Romania has the obligation, until the end of March, to transpose the EU Directive regarding the strengthening of the presumption of innocence.
"Just as surprising are, from our point of view, the Commission's concerns regarding the discussions carried out in Romania's Parliament over the amendment of the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code, taking into account that Romania, as member state of the European Union is bound, until the end of March, to transpose, into the national legislation, the provisions of the EU Directive No.2016/343 [of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 2016] on the strengthening of certain aspects of the presumption of innocence and of the right to be present at the trial in criminal proceedings," the document argues.
The heads of the two Chambers of Parliament also argue the necessity to amend the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code considering that these include provisions which "gave rise to abuses sanctioned by the ECHR (European Court of Human Rights)."
"Moreover the ECHR jurisprudence bonds us to carry out a responsible review of those criminal provisions which gave rise to the abuses sanctioned by the ECHR," the letter points out.
Furthermore, Dragnea and Tariceanu mentioned that the debate is in early stages and amendments refer to the principles of the European Directive.
"Although the debate is in an early stage, we inform you that all the amendments proposed so far have emanated from the principles laid down in the Directive. The following parliamentary debates will enjoy the same transparency and openness to dialogue just as in the case of laws regarding the judicial system," the two Romanian officials underscored.
The heads of the two Chambers of Parliament also mentioned that many articles of these laws have been declared unconstitutional and Parliament is bound to amend the legislation.
"At the same time, we believe that those who informed the Commission regarding the amendments of the two codes of criminal matter, the criminal proceedings, respectively, should also present the Constitutional Court decisions under which several articles of these laws were declared unconstitutional, a fact that bounds Parliament to amend the legislation in accordance with the Court decisions, which are final and mandatory. It would be unnatural and against European principles to argue that the same legal provisions regulating the justice activity are in accordance with the European principles in a multitude of members states of the European Union, but that they violate the independence of justice in Romania," the two Romanian officials also stressed in the quoted letter.