The new draft law on dismantling the Section for the Investigation of Judicial Crimes (SIIJ) is an inadequate compromise, which violates Romania's obligations as a member of the European Union and of the Council of Europe, maintain the Romanian Judges Forum Association, the Association 'Movement for the Defence of the Status of Prosecutors, and the Initiative for Justice Association.
"The draft law published by the Ministry of Justice on January 21, 2022 abolishes the Special Section only formally, since the way in which the crimes committed by magistrates would be investigated, namely by prosecutors appointed by the Plenum of CSM [Superior Council of Magistracy] within the Criminal Investigation and Forensics Section with the Prosecutor's Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice (PICCJ) and the prosecutor's offices attached to the courts of appeal (PCA), preserves and even aggravates the problematic features of the SIIJ," shows a press release of the three Associations.
According to the cited source, one of the issues concerns the power to investigate all crimes committed by magistrates, therefore the corruption ones, too, which belongs to the prosecutors specifically appointed from the ordinary prosecutors' offices, although corruption deeds should be investigated by specialized prosecutors' offices, Agerpres.ro informs.
"In conclusion, the new draft law on the repeal of the Special Section represents an inadequate compromise, likely to violate the MCV [ the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism] Decision and the opinions of the Venice Commission, in particular Romania's obligations as a member of the European Union and of the Council of Europe. The natural solution remains the unconditional disbanding of the Special Section and the restoration of the powers of the specialized prosecutors' offices, such as DNA [National Anticorruption Directorate] and DIICOT [the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism], as proposed by the relevant European bodies," the cited source shows.
On Friday, the Ministry of Justice put up for public debate the draft law on the repeal of the Section for the Investigation of Judicial Crimes, Minister Catalin Predoiu announced.
The Minister explained that, after the disbanding of the SIIJ, its powers will be taken over by a structure inspired by the model of the European Public Prosecutor's Office, with 12 prosecutors at the center and 30 in the territory.
"We used a model inspired by the operation of the European Public Prosecutor's Office to investigate crimes that until now used to be under the SIIJ jurisdiction. That is, 12 prosecutors in Bucharest and 30 prosecutors spread across the country, two prosecutors per each court of appeal, a total of 42 prosecutors to investigate the crimes that used to be under SIIJ jurisdiction. The prosecutors will be appointed by the plenum of the CSM. The 12 prosecutors for Bucharest will be selected and appointed by the CSM plenum from among the Criminal Investigation Section of the Prosecutor General's Office, and the 30 prosecutors for the courts of appeal will be selected and appointed by the CSM plenum from the prosecutor's offices with the court of appeals," minister Predoiu specified.
He added that prosecutors from the Prosecutor General's Office will be recommended to the CSM plenum by the attorney general, and the prosecutors from the prosecutor's offices with the courts of appeal will be recommended by the chief prosecutors of the prosecutor's offices with the courts of appeal.
According to Predoiu, powers are divided among the two levels, namely the prosecutors of the criminal investigation section will carry out the criminal investigation in the case of crimes committed by CSM members, judges of the Supreme Court and prosecutors of the Prosecutor General's Office, judges of the court of appeals, prosecutors of the prosecutor's offices with these courts, judges of the Military Court of Appeal and prosecutors with this courts.