Judges’ Association on the draft law that would allow the Minister of Justice to convene the General Assembly: “The fundamental principle of the rule of law is blatantly and arbitrarily violated”
Representatives of the Association of Judges of the Republic of Moldova say they are “concerned” about the amendments proposed by the draft law, voted in the first reading at the March 3 sitting of the Parliament, which regulates some aspects related to the election of members to the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM) and the Superior Council of Prosecutors (CSP).
More specifically, the Minister of Justice could convene and open the General Assembly of Judges. According to a statement issued by the Association, such changes “generate retrograde and dangerous provisions”, “despite the commitments made by the authorities to reform and modernise justice”.
“In this context, the Association of Judges welcomes the visit of the European Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Didier Reynders to Moldova and his strongly expressed position of our authorities towards the principles of the rule of law (…).
He reiterated the obligation of the authorities to implement and respect all recommendations of the Venice Commission. And here we recall that one of the recommendations of the Venice Commission, which has already been transposed into law, refers to the exclusion of the Minister of Justice from the Superior Council of Magistracy. It is hard to understand how this recommendation fits in with the current intention to give the Minister of Justice, the representative of the executive power, the right to convene the General Assembly of Judges, the body which ensures the practical implementation of the principle of judicial self-administration.
The Constitution of the Republic of Moldova apriori excludes any interference of the executive power in the work of the judiciary, but this fundamental principle of the rule of law is clearly and arbitrarily violated by the draft law (…).
Delivering quick results and solutions, which will work in the short term, will not ensure the intended purpose of all the efforts, i.e. achieving a “real” reform”, the Association’s press release states.
The draft law proposes to amend para. (2) of art. 232 of Law no. 514/1995 by adding the text “In the event of impossibility of convening the General Assembly of Judges by the Superior Council of Magistracy due to expiry of the mandate of its members, lack of quorum or in the event of declaration of a state of emergency, under the terms of Law no. 212 of 24.06.2004 on the regime of state of emergency, siege and war, the General Assembly of Judges shall be convened and opened by the president or interim president of the Superior Council of Magistracy. In the event of their vacancy, the General Assembly of Judges shall be convened and opened by the Minister of Justice”.
It is also proposed to add to Article 232 a new paragraph. (41) of Law no. 514/1995 with the following content “If the General Assembly of Judges has not been held due to lack of quorum, the repeated general assembly may be convened within two weeks from the date of convening the first one and it is deliberative if more than 1/3 of the judges in office attend the meeting”.
The document will be proposed for a second reading in the plenary of the Parliament.
The General Assembly of Judges is to be convened on 17 March 2023, at which permanent members of the CSM will be elected from among judges.
At its meeting on 14 February, the plenary of the CSM approved the draft agenda of the meeting of the General Assembly of Judges.
According to the legislation, the General Assembly of Judges is one of the organs of judicial self-administration and ensures the practical implementation of the principle of judicial self-administration. The General Assembly of Judges consists of the judges of all courts.
Voting of permanent and substitute members of the CSJ, of the College for the selection and career of judges, of the College for the evaluation of the performance of judges is secret and takes place in a specially equipped voting booth under the supervision of members of the Special Commission.
The decisions of the Assembly shall be adopted by a simple majority vote of the judges present and shall be signed by the President and the Secretary of the meeting and numbered consecutively for the current year.