The Council of Europe called on Romania today to do more to fight corruption in the judiciary. The Council of Europe’s group of experts on corruption, known as GRECO, published today its latest report on Romania, looking at measures to help prevent corruption among MPs, judges and prosecutors.
GRECO´s report points out that Romania is still at an early stage of implementation of corruption preventive policies for parliamentarians. The legislative process needs to become more transparent, to limit the use of expedited procedures, and to avoid the risks of manipulation.
GRECO also urges Romania to review its system of immunities and to make parliamentarians aware of their obligations. GRECO noted frequent confusions made by Romanian MPs between the subject of incompatibilities and that of conflicts of interest. Many have breached the criminal and administrative rules on conflicts of interest after they had employed relatives at their parliamentary offices.
Judges and prosecutors are subject to career-related mechanisms and general rights and obligations to protect their integrity. However, GRECO underlines that practice has shown that there is a need to strengthen the overall supervision by the Superior Council of Magistracy and the heads of courts and prosecutorial offices to avoid that inappropriate conducts are tolerated. The code of conduct of 2005 needs to be better tailored to address concrete situations.
On the positive side, Romania’s system for the declaration of income, assets and interests –which applies to many categories of officials including parliamentarians, judges and prosecutors, and is supervised by the National Integrity Agency – is exemplary in several aspects, although its working methods may need to be revised.
Romania is famous for having a very contested law that allows inmates their sentences reduced, with 30 days knocked off a sentence for each book published while in prison.
A former prime minister, a TV mogul and a football club owner are among those who have had their sentences reduced. The reduction is subject to a judge’s decision on whether the book merits a reward. Self-publishing is not allowed.
Critics claim wealthy prisoners hire ghost writers. Senator Valeriu Tudoriscu told the Mediafax news agency the law helped senior figures convicted of corruption “return quicker to their wealth obtained through theft.”
Even former prime minister Victor Ponta was indicted last September in a forgery and money laundering probe while still in office.