The events we witnessed these last few days, that worried the entire country and the world, are the result of a fundamental matter and two major factors, namely the lack of a public debate and the means used to adopt certain law changing measures, as well as the misuse of the anticorruption message and sincere indignation of some citizens groups for political purposes.
The way in which the Government Ordinance modifying the Penal Code and the Penal Procedure Code was passed - late at night, after a quick consultation, during the Goverment meeting dedicated to the State budget – and published in the Official Gazette – at 1:30 a.m. – violated the customary standards of good governance, transparency, and predictability of the decision-making process. This should be a reminder that any hasty decision-making mechanism can generate unwanted effects.
The public authorities and institutions involved in the decision-making process should offer comprehensive explanation regarding the effects of the pieces of legislation on the pardons (the one adopted, that harmonizes the Codes with the decisions of the Constitutional Court, and that submitted to parliamentary debates), thus allowing the society to understand them and avoiding any misinterpretation. They should also abstain from divulging distorted information, that are not consistent with their previous institutional practice. The foremost responsibility of the judiciary and administrative institutions is to preserve and strengthen their credibility in front of the public opinion; their institutional positioning should be a secondary concern.
Reasons should be given for not taking into account the observations and amendments put forward during the consultations, in order to legitimize the consultation process and to demonstrate it was not just a formal exercise. We therefore ask the Ministry of Justice, on the basis of article 7 (10), (11) and (12), from Law 78/2000 to publish the list of all comments and suggestions received, as well as the reasons why the recommendations made in written form by the participants in the debates were not taken into account.
The fight against corruption should continue with the existing instruments, and the competent authorities should not use these regulations as an excuse for reducing their involvement and actions in this field.
The abuse in office, as act of corruption regulated by article 13 ² in Law 78/2000, following the ruling of the Constitutional Court stays unchanged and applies to any abuse in office that generates private benefice for the official or another person. Consequently, any abuse associated with corruption will continue to be investigated and sanctioned, irrespective of the amount of the prejudice.
So, the abuse in office considered corruption are still sanctioned, irrespective of the amount, but the changes stipulated in the Ordinance reduce the time served in prison and provide for sanctions as fines, which was not provided for in the original laws. TI-Romania is strongly against the reduction of the time in prison and to sanctions as fines.
Democratic involvement and participation:
The parliamentary debate, as the most important step that definitively decides upon the regulations, should bring about the following changes and decisions:
The debates in Romania’s Parliament on the Ordinance regarding the abuse in office and the Penal Procedural Code, in Transparency International Romania’s opinion, should lead to:
- A return to the sanctions of 1 to 6 years in prison, effectively
- Elimination of the provision regarding sanctions as fines of the abuse in office assimilated to corruption
- Elimination of the provision regarding no criminal responsibility for denouncers, as result of transactions with the prosecutors, and a limitation of the benefits for denouncers, so that their punishment be reduced by only one third.
The debates in Romania’s Parliament on the draft law regarding pardons, in Transparency International Romania’s opinion, should lead to:
- Mentaining the Government decision to exempt from pardon all acts of corruption, as requested by Transparency International România, suggestion taken into consideration.
The efforts to influence and correct the final form of the two pieces of legislation should focus on the parliamentary debates.
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