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Direcția Națională Anticorupție






November, 15th, 2017
No. 1066/VIII/3

Press release

One of the four CVM benchmarks which are the basis for assessing the progress of the judicial reform, refers to Combating high level corruption (benchmark three).
In terms of this benchmark, the Report underlines the importance of maintaining the independence of the National Anticorruption Directorate so that it could be in a position to perform its activities with all the tools at its disposal. Moreover, the Report insists on fulfilling a previous recommendation, i.e. the adoption of objective criteria for lifting the immunity of Members of the Parliament in order to dispel any suspicion that the immunity is used as a shield against the prosecutors’ actions.
The Report warns that any negative pressures on the fight against corruption, may lead to a reassessment of these conclusions.
Concretely, the current Report underlines that a positive assessment of progress under benchmark three relies on an independent National Anticorruption Directorate to be in a position to perform its activities with all the tools at its disposal and maintain its track record. In previous reports, the fact that the National Anticorruption Directorate had maintained its track record in the face of intense pressure was noted as a sign of sustainability. For this reason, the Commission limited its recommendation under benchmark three to a single one.
The recommendation concerns the accountability of the Parliament in its decisions on requests from the prosecution to authorise preventative measures such as searches or arrest and on requests to authorise the investigation of Members of Parliament when they are or have been a Minister (referred to as "lifting of immunity"). Thus, the Report recommends the Parliament to adopt objective criteria for deciding on and motivating lifting of immunity of Members of Parliament to help ensure that immunity is not used to avoid investigation and prosecution of corruption crimes.
It should be mentioned that during 2017, DNA has submitted to the Parliament three requests for approval of the criminal investigation against ministers and former ministers who are also Members of the Parliament for having allegedly committed corruption offences and all these requests have been rejected.
The Report emphasises that, were that pressure to start to harm the fight against corruption, the Commission may have to reassess this conclusion.

In its previous Report from January 2017, the Commission made clear that weakening or shrinking the scope of corruption as an offence, or major challenges to the independence and effectiveness of the anti-corruption prosecution office, would constitute backtracking.

In the part entitled General Situation, the Report of the European Commission states that:
1. The positive progress and the continued good results of the judicial institutions in the fight against corruption were largely questioned by events, such as:
- the Government Emergency Ordinance to decriminalise certain corruption offences, among them the abuse of office (January 2017), which in spite of the fact that it was abrogated, it still left a legacy of public doubts.
- the proposed revisions to the Justice laws initiated at the end of August generated controversies and strong negative reactions from the judiciary and from some segments of the civil society, reactions which focused on the issue of judicial independence. Moreover, the Report considers crucial the capacity of the Government and the Parliament to ensure an open, transparent and constructive legislative process on the amendment of the justice laws, a process in which the opinion of the judiciary as well as the opinion of the Venice Commission should be valued in order to guarantee the independence of the justice system. It is also worth mentioning that the transparency and predictability of the legislative process for the legislation on judicial reform and anticorruption still remain a concern of the European Commission.

2. Criticism against the judiciary and the judicial decisions remains a problematic feature in the public debate. Accepting and respecting final court judgements and allowing the magistrates to fulfil their duty unhindered is essential, including to meet the condition set in the previous report from January 2017. For example, the Report refers to public statements from the authorities that the whole judicial system is dysfunctional or that the status quo needs to be brought "back to normality".
Insisting on this topic, the Report states that "since the last CVM report, criticism of the judicial system and magistrates in the media has been particularly strong". Consequently, a previous recommendation is reiterated, i.e. the necessity of obtaining "an institutional recognition of the problem, and a decision to take steps to address it". For instance, the Commission expects that whenever the Superior Council of Magistracy condemns statements of a Member of Parliament criticising a magistrate or the judicial system, there would be a clear follow-up in Parliament to assess whether the Code of Conduct, adopted by the Parliament of October 11th 2017, had been breached.