The Lower Chamber on Tuesday adopted the bill filed by Social Democratic Party (PSD) President Liviu Dragnea, providing for the elimination of over 100 non-fiscal taxes, including the radio-TV licence tax, rejecting the amendments of the special commission which would have seen the radio-TV licence tax remaining in force. The draft law on eliminating some […]
President Iohannis, in European Parliament: I strongly plead for unity, cohesion, solidarity in efforts to consolidate European project
President Klaus Iohannis pleaded on Tuesday, in the plenary session of the European Parliament, for the strengthening of the European project. “We are going through a new chapter in the development and consolidation of the European project in which we need to develop a new vision on the future of the Union. From this perspective, I strongly plead for unity, cohesion and solidarity and for the common European path in the efforts to consolidate the European project the key to our efforts must remain the unity. For Romania, this principle is the very essence of the European project that has given it the capacity to cope with the multiple challenges the Union has faced up to now,” the head of state said in his speech in the plenary session of the European Parliament, in the debate on the future of Europe. He underscored that in the last decade the EU has been marked by multiple challenges – from the financial and economic crisis, the crisis of migration, the terrorist attacks up to the rise of populist movements. “It was a decade in which the Union had to learn and adapt on the move,” said Iohannis. The head of the Romanian state has stressed that European values must always be rediscovered, reappreciated and recapitalised on. “The European Union is an evolutionary project. The new realities, both in member states as well as globally, call for a European project to be developed and strengthened, and under no circumstances rebringing to question the fundamental principles that the European project was built on. A strong Union must not be made at the expense of unity. We need an inclusive Union that does not leave any state or European citizen behind. From this point of view, a Europe with more speeds or a Union of concentric circles cannot be a solution to the extent to which we want to maintain the unitary and indivisible character of the European Union, which gives it value and credibility in its relationship with the rest of the world. President Juncker said last year that Europe must recatch its breath, that is to breathe with both its eastern and western lungs. I hope our future together will also show us Europe has one heart. A heart that beats in us all, that unites us, from east to west and from north to south, that makes our citizens to identify and to define naturally as Europeans. We have to assume this common ideal and, if necessary, adapt and recalibrate the instruments through which we can reach it,” Klaus Iohannis said. The president has argued that the new phase in which the European Union will enter starting 2019 and which Romania, as the rotating president of the Council of the European Union, will prepare it together with the other member states and the European institutions will be fruitful. “I am confident that the Summit in Sibiu on 9 May 2019 will be a landmark in the projection on the future of a stronger, more united, cohesive and democratic Union. It depends on our power, wisdom and will – member states, European institutions and European citizens – to turn this objective into a reality. (…) The summit in Sibiu is an important moment for the consolidation of the foundation of this future: a common future, a democratic future, an optimistic future, the future of the European Union can only be built with the participation and direct and active involvement of European citizens. I want Sibiu to be a moment of awareness raising for European citizens. Citizens want concrete measures and tangible results. They want good news about peace, security and prosperity. Also, the citizens must see that we are working to protect and strengthen the major symbols of the Union: the euro, the internal market, the Schengen area and the freedom of movement. At the same time, our citizens need more cohesion. And cohesion is not just the ambition of the new member states, which have a lower level of economic convergence, but it is a necessity also for the oldest members of the Union,” Klaus Iohannis said.
Justice Crime Investigation Section with the Prosecutor’s Office becomes operational. Prosecutor General: It will take over approximately 1,400 cases
Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar declared on Tuesday that the Justice Crime Investigation Section (dealing with the investigation of the offenses committed by the magistrates) will take over from other prosecutor’s offices approximately 1,400 cases. “Approximately 1,400 cases. It is an important volume of cases and today the activity will begin,” Lazar said, at the seat of the Prosecutor’s Office. The Justice Crime Investigation Section with the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice became operational on Tuesday. “Thus, according to provisions of art. 88 (1), in conjunction with the provisions of art. III from Law 304/2004, in regards to judiciary organization, republished, with the later amendments and additions, today, 23 October 2018, the Justice Crime Investigation Section with the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice has become operational. The section has the exclusive competence of carrying out the prosecutions for crimes committed by prosecutors and judges, including those that have the position of members of the Superior Council of Magistrates (CSM) and the military judges and prosecutors, the Section also keeping its prosecution competence when, alongside justices and prosecutors, other people are investigated,” a press release sent by the Prosecutor’s Office. According to the source, the cases in the works at the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) and other prosecution units, as well as the cases settled so far, that concern crimes committed by judges or prosecutors, are to be taken over by Justice Crime Investigation Section.
Venice Commission on Criminal Codes: Criminal Code decriminalises guilty acts related to abuse of office; makes it impossible to convict culprits. Amendments adopted rapidly and non-transparently
The Venice Commission states, in regard to the amending of the Criminal Codes, that they were adopted through a rapid and non-transparent legislative process. In what concerns the Criminal Code, the most important observation is that it decriminalises guilty acts in connection with abuse of office, which makes it almost impossible to convict the culprits. In what concerns the Criminal Procedure Code, it considers that the amendments must be revised as a whole, with an emphasis on certain provisions. “The proposed changes to Article 297 appear indeed to create, without a convincing justification, the premises for a de facto decriminalisation of many facts amounting to the offence of abuse of office; as stressed by most interlocutors of the Venice Commission in Romania, this will make it much harder/quite impossible to prosecute and convict people for this offence,” reads the Venice Commission opinion on the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code. According to the document, this is in contradiction both with Romania’s international obligations under the anti-corruption instruments and the country’s own efforts in this direction, as well as with the requirements of the rule of law. The Venice Commission demands that, in light of these observations, the proposed changes to Article 297, Paragraph 1, should be revised, including from the standpoint of Romania’s obligations under international anti-corruption instruments. Also in what concerns the Criminal Code, the Commission recommends to reconsider and amend, in light of the comments made in its opinion, the provisions regulating corruption (Articles 291 and 292), embezzlement (Article 295), other provisions with a more general impact, such as those on the statute of limitations (Articles 154-155), false testimony (Article 273) and compromising the interests of justice (Article 277), and the definition of the civil servant (Article 175), ancillary penalties (Article 65), to bring them in line with the country’s international obligations. Regarding the Criminal Procedure Code, the Venice Commission’s recommendation is that the law amending it be revised overall, while taking into account the specific observations presented in its opinion, in order to make sure that the reform will not have a negative impact on the functioning of the criminal justice system. Although the entire set of amendments should be revised in detail, the Commission points especially toward the norms regarding communication on on-going criminal investigations (Article 4), starting a criminal investigation (Article 305), evidentiary thresholds and inability to use certain forms of evidence (Articles 139, 143, 153, 168), as well as the right to be notified about and take part to any criminal prosecution act (Articles 83 and 92), but also to final and transitory provisions. Likewise, according to the Commission, the amendments to the Criminal Codes were adopted through an excessively fast and non-transparent process, even though there were more than 300 amendments, many of them introducing radical changes. “During their adoption, frequent changes were brought to the texts, making consultations impossible,” the document shows. Reactions PSD’s Iordache: We won’t consider all recommendations from Venice Commission, CCR’s decisions have priority The chairman of the Select Parliamentary Committee for the Justice laws’ package, PSD (Social Democratic Party, major at rule, ed. n.) deputy Florin Iordache, declared on Monday for RFI that the recommendations from the Venice Commission will not be entirely considered and said he is disappointed that this European forum “prejudged, without waiting for CCR (Constitutional Court of Romania, ed. n.) decision.” According to Iordache, “the Venice Commission basically has two opinions: one opinion on the Justice laws and one opinion on the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code.” “We are waiting in the following days for the two reports to be published, because in the report on the laws of Justice there were made some amendments, after discussions, and in the other we are to wait the CCR’s decisions with priority. (…) I was disappointed, because they prejudged and we only asked for one thing: let us wait for the CCR’s decisions too, we can not only listen to one point, yours, let us see what the Court has to say, and between the two, because for us the CCR’s decisions are of priority, we will choose the best solution. It was seen in the first report as well, the one for the Justice laws, that there were many mistakes, which were then recognized and amendments were made,” he added. Asked if all the recommendations from the Venice Commission will be taken over, Florin Iordache replied: “No, of course not. I said it there too, for example, that a recommendation the Venice Commission insisted on was the one with the special section and I said that this recommendation cannot, under any circumstance, be taken over, especially now since it has been proven that over half of the Romanian magistrates had case files, this section proves its usefulness.” Iordache said that the Romanian authorities did not request the assistance of the Venice Commission. According to Iordache, the CCR’s decisions are priority. “For us, the CCR’s decisions are priority. That is what I said there and this is what I’m saying to you, because, in the end, among the CCR’s objectives are that of putting in accordance the Romanian legislation with the European legislation and with the treaties which Romania is a party to,” the PSD deputy added. Iordache also says that the Parliament is the only authority in Romania that can amend a law. “I have not seen until now a communication or a desire to communicate from the president. All I saw were criticism from the president. It’s not normal to criticize your own country, in Brussels, of all places,” Florin Iordache said. RO+ movement: Felons’ puppets lost all legitimacy to amend justice package, criminal codes The Romania Together Movement (RO+) considers that following the recent verdict of the Venice Commission “the felons’ puppets have lost all legitimacy to amend the justice package and the criminal codes.” In a Monday release, RO+ says the promoters of the changes to the justice package and the criminal codes “have lamentably…
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