• Vetting Commission: “Political statements critical of judges or judicial decisions in no way influence the Commission’s assessments”

    Vetting Commission: “Political statements critical of judges or judicial decisions in no way influence the Commission’s assessments”
    Source: Vetting Commission - Vetting Commission
    by
    26 January 2024 | 15:08

    The Vetting Commission issued a statement on Thursday, 25 January, to clarify “some confusion about its role and how it operates”. “We consider this clarification important for the general public, the subjects of the assessment, but also all observers of the assessment process,” the statement said.

    “The Vetting Commission’s mandate is to fairly and independently assess the integrity of judges and judicial candidates. The Commission’s independence is reflected in its very structure, as the Commission has three national members, two appointed by the majority party and one appointed by the opposition, as well as three international members. The Commission is an ad hoc entity and is not part of Parliament or any other state institution.

    Several concerns have been expressed about the evaluation process, particularly in the light of statements made by some politicians criticising certain court rulings in recent times. Those expressing concerns have interpreted the politicians’ statements as saying that the evaluation process will be used as a tool to “remove” some judges from the system, as a sign of disagreement with their decisions.

    Political statements critical of judges or judicial decisions in no way influence the Vetting Commission’s evaluations. The evaluation criteria are objectively specified in the law and relate to the financial and ethical integrity of judges. The Vetting Commission applies these criteria specifically and is not influenced by external factors.

    The Vetting Commission is committed to conducting the extraordinary evaluation, as the integrity of judges is crucial for the rule of law and society’s confidence in the justice system. The principle of the rule of law also includes the existence of independent courts, in line with both the Constitution of Moldova and the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights. The independence of the judiciary is compromised when judges face threats to influence their decisions. Such actions undermine society’s confidence in the justice system. This statement expresses the strong position of all members of the Vetting Commission”, the Vetting Commission statement reads.

    Contacted by ZdG, Commission representatives said that the statements “of those who expressed their concerns” were not public, but at meetings, and that the statement issued now is “not necessarily in the context of yesterday’s statements”.

    The Association of Judges of the Republic of Moldova (AJM), whose president is magistrate Victor Sandu, one of the candidates who did not pass the evaluation of financial and ethical integrity, and the Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ) decided to be re-evaluated by the Pre-Vetting Commission, issued a statement on Wednesday, 24 January, calling on the Superior Council of Magistracy (SCM) “to carefully analyse the attacks on judicial independence”.

    The Association’s reaction came a few hours after Prime Minister Dorin Recean nominated two female magistrates at a government meeting who recently took controversial decisions regarding persons under investigation in the “Bank Fraud” case.

    Thus, representatives of the Association argue that “verbal attacks on judges by members of the Executive or other authorities, regardless of their motivation, can have a damaging effect on public confidence in justice and undermine the impartiality and effectiveness of the judiciary”. At the same time, they express their solidarity with their colleagues and all judges in Moldova.

    On Wednesday, 24 January, Prime Minister Dorin Recean criticised two decisions taken by judges Angela Catană and Ludmila Beșliu in a Cabinet meeting. ZdG previously wrote that in 2011 and 2012 magistrate Angela Catană was given two harsh reprimands for granting amnesty to a rapist and cancelling an order to initiate criminal proceedings.

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