Venice Commission continues work on amendments of Romania’s Criminal Procedure Code

Venice Commission continues work on amendments of Romania’s Criminal Procedure Code

Romanian media were told by local Constitutional Court’s sources last Friday that the country’s Constitutional Court has found 64 provisions of the draft law on the amendment of Romania’s  Criminal Procedure Code unconstitutional.

The sources have told the press, “The appeals of the High Court of Cassation and Justice, PNL-USR and of the Presidency have been joined. By unanimous consent, we admitted the unconstitutionality referral for some articles and also by unanimous consent we rejected other complaints on other articles.”

Later on Friday, a Constitutional Court’s official media announced explained “it had tracked down 64 unconstitutional provisions in the law that is amending the Criminal Procedure Code, while other 31 ones are constitutional”, romaniajournal.ro had reported.

Also according to the press release, only 32 of the amendments passed the Constitutional Court’s examination, whereas the 64 of them (as mentioned above) out of a total of 96 were rejected.

Practically, the next step is the codes return to the Parliament and MPs need to review it and make it  (be) in accord with the CCR ruling.

Meanwhile, the matter is still open on European level, too, with the Venice Commission expected to discuss of adopting “an opinion on the amendments operated on the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code in Romania, and also of the preliminary opinion released on July regarding the amendments on the justice laws”, romaniajounral.ro reads, in its plenary session at the end of this week, on October 19.

“The European Commission for Democracy through Law (“Venice Commission”) is expected to adopt an opinion on amendments to the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code in Romania. It is also expected to endorse a preliminary opinion issued in July on draft amendments to Romanian laws on the statute of judges and prosecutors, judicial organization and the Superior Council for Magistracy. The legal experts will hold an exchange of views with Florin Iordache, Chair of the Joint Special Parliamentary Commission for amending the Judicial Laws”, the Council of Europe has said.

Romania Insider says that rejected amendments include: “the annulment of evidence obtained illegally, the disposition that a judge should rule a conviction only when the court believes that the charge has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt, the disposition that a defendant should be convicted exclusively for the charges on which he was sent to court, preventing searches if the investigators don’t mention what or who they are looking for, the obligation to erase the electronic data that are not connected to the investigated crime and the possibility of canceling a final sentence if one of the judges who issued it didn’t sign it”

Council of Europe – Venice Commission

“The Commission is invited to endorse, the preliminary opinion (…) on draft amendments to Law No. 303/2004 on the statute of judges and prosecutors, Law No. 304/2004 on judicial organization, and Law No. 317/2004 on the Superior Council for Magistracy (…) drawn up on the basis of comments by Ms Bazy Malaurie, Mr Cameron, Mr Esanu, Mr Scholsem, Mr Tuori and Ms Suchocka”, the Venice Commission’s press release says.

“In accordance with the decision taken by the Bureau, this preliminary opinion has already been issued. A Government Emergency Ordinance implementing some recommendations of the opinion may be adopted before the session. In this case the Commission may be invited to adopt the opinion with some amendments reflecting the Government Emergency Ordinance (GEO).”

Sources who have spoken to Romanian media have explained that the GEO article related with regulating magistrates’ responsibility will be deleted. What will be re-applied instead is “the previous form that the Parliament sent to Presidency for promulgation”, Romania Journal reads, citing Digi24,

“The Commission is invited to hold an exchange of views with Mr Florin Iordache, Chair of the Joint Special Parliamentary Commission for amending the Judicial Laws, and to examine, with a view to adoption, the draft opinion on amendments to the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code; (…) The Sub-Commissions on the Judiciary and on Fundamental Rights will examine this draft opinion at the joint meeting on 18 October 2018.”…. / IBNA